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A bloody PR stunt

  • Published at 07:41 pm March 23rd, 2017
A bloody PR stunt

Another day, another atrocity.

Even though this basically amounts to educated conjecture at this point, nobody would be surprised if, in a few days, maybe even hours, we saw headlines in the vein of “IS takes responsibility for London attack” (perhaps it has already happened).

The fact that the attack in London two nights ago was perpetrated on the first anniversary of the Brussels bombings -- a set of coordinated suicide bombings which saw 32 people lose their lives on March 22, 2016 -- should give us a hint about who were behind this incident and what their motives were.

This was a reminder.

To that end, a symbolic attack on the very hood ornament of Western democracy, the Westminster Palace (it even has “West” in the name), was perhaps the grandest way that IS could nudge the world into remembering how much of a nuisance they can still prove to be -- much like that one mosquito that keeps buzzing around your ear in bed, regardless of how many times you end up swatting at it and temporarily deafening yourself in the process.

“No one cares about anything else right now,” I hear from my superiors at work, regarding this bit of news. I respectfully disagree.

This incident hardly affects anyone outside the purview of those who were harmed physically. For all the potential chest-beating and alarmist rhetoric about how this attack was an “attack on democracy” on the part of the British government, it was still just one loser with some kind of sharp object who managed to stab a cop and run over a couple of people in a 4x4.

I don’t want to sound disrespectful -- I genuinely sympathise with those who are affected by this tragedy -- but this was a pretty sorry attempt as far as one of the defining acts of terrorism of 2017 goes. If the attacker’s true motive was, indeed, to infiltrate the palace, we know that he failed. Overreacting to this is, perhaps, the worst thing that the British government, and more importantly the media, could do at this point.

Punks and thugs come in all shapes and sizes, and, no matter what acronym they go by, be it IS, IRA, or BCL, they all follow the same rule: The more attention we pay them, the more annoying they get -- much like an inverted muscle spasm, if you’d pardon the poor metaphor.

Look, terrorism is a thing, it has been for a while, and this new incident is hardly as earth-shattering as most people are making it out to be.

With fear-mongering rapidly becoming the de facto way to the throne for politicians the world over, we need to consider the potential fallout of any more alarmism

More than the threat of Islamic extremism, there are other, potentially even more troubling, fears that we need to consider, like invasive and utterly undemocratic policies such as Britain’s own Snooper’s Charter, or its more local flavour the ICT Act 2006, taking full shape under the thin veneer of “combatting terrorism.”

With fear-mongering rapidly becoming the de facto way to the throne for politicians the world over, we need to consider the potential fallout of any more alarmism -- last I checked, Geert Wilders’ campaign in the Netherlands received a healthy shot in the arm, despite his unpopularity.

Groups such as IS thrive on publicity, and this latest act of terror, as bloody as it was, was nothing more than that: A PR stunt. So let’s stop giving them any further ad space and keep combatting terrorism the old fashioned way, you know, by actually combatting it.

Rubaiyat Kabir is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be followed on Twitter @moreanik.

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