I’m getting really angry now. Half the people I know didn’t go to one of London’s festive highlights this year: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Why? ISIS… No joke. I have friends who’ve lost a lot of money from cancelled clients due to… the terror threat.
Sorry, but what the f*ck!? Is everyone a coward? Has everyone lost their minds? There’s very little chance of getting bombed or attacked. Yes, it is a possibility, and that is why the security services and police work hard to keep the public safe. But we can’t lose our heads and become fearful. We’re more likely to get glassed by a random twat down the local. That is a fact.
So why is terrorism so scary now? We’ve always been a target for terrorism in London going back hundreds of years. Guy Fawkes, anyone? The IRA?
Disturbingly, there is a racist undertone to this current panic, a racism which is helping fuel the fear. Hundreds of years being bombed, but now ‘cos these guys are brown, got beards, and speak a guttural language (y’know, like the Black Speech of Mordor Orcs in LOTR!), all of a sudden we need to lose our heads.
And the media don’t help. The portrayed otherness of Muslims, combined with a pod people-esque enemy next door slant to the story, is helping to fan the flames in a bid to have juicier sexed up news. It is disgraceful. But as the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius said, ‘We are in control of our reactions, and our reactions makes something good or bad’. If we let the terrorists, and the media, make us fearful and consequently change our routines — for example, by not going to Winter Wonderland type events –, then we are not being prudent and sensible. Rather, we are letting fear and cowardliness win. We are letting the terrorists win.
Democracy and our free way of life are based on a fearless, quiet, going about of our own business in confidence. We have nothing to fear but fear itself — for fear has always been the enemy of democracy and freedom. Nero and the fire in Rome, to the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, to 9/11 and the Patriot Act, fear has always led to an erosion of our freedoms and our free way of life. Back in 1859, John Stewart Mill warned us in On Liberty that totalitarianism doesn’t just come from the state and state agencies — society can itself be the tyrannical agent.
Don’t let the terrorists win. Don’t fear the beard. Go about your normal business; our democracy is at stake. Save democracy; go the Winter Wonderland. And use my ironic hashtag: #FearTheBeard.
© 2015 – 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry
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