There is truly nothing that symbolises the British attitude more than the various Tweets stating that if anyone nearby has been affected by the attack, then they can pop round and have a cup of tea. Such a kind-hearted and level-headed response in the face of fear and uncertainty is not only welcome, it serves as a valuable counterweight to what can only be described as the perfect storm of misinformation and knee-jerk reactions.
Details are still coming in but the attack on an Underground train in London appears to be a failed attempt to set off a bomb. Instead, despite many people being injured due to burns, there are no reports of serious casualties or any reports of deaths. The unidentified suspect is still at large but police are working hard to track the culprit down. Although the incident is being treated as a terror attack, the authorities have urged calm until more information becomes available. In the meantime, security has been increased temporarily in case a further attack has been planned.
This is the fifth attack on UK soil this year and the first one that resulted in no deaths. While I am relieved that the attack failed to kill anyone, my heart goes out to those who were there. Tensions are already high and many will still remember the bombings of 7/7 in 2005. As of this attack, this means that the UK has experienced the most sustained period of terrorist activity since the IRA bombings in the early 1970s.
At the time of writing, 8 of the 22 people being treated have been released from the hospitals. The station and the area above ground have been cordoned off, but already people have started to pull together from offering cups of tea to providing food for the emergency services and the staff where the incident took place. Many people have sent their support and condolences to those affected and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has stated that ‘As London has proven, again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.’
I wish I had better things to say at this time, but as before, it is possible to see the knee-jerk reactions of those who will use this incident to validate their opinions including the President of the United States. Despite the fact that the identity of the attempted bomber is still unknown, Donald Trump decided to score some political points by 1) implying that the suspect had been in Scotland Yard’s sights based on no evidence as of yet and 2) using the attack as an example as to why he implemented a travel ban. It boils my blood to see this sort of callous and insensitive behaviour but given his past actions, I’m not surprised at all.
The worst thing is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people who are using this attack to score their own points, using it to attack Muslims including the Mayor of London. There are some who are shamelessly spreading misinformation and lies to validate their own beliefs, even though we know next to nothing. This sort of knee-jerk, echo chamber bullshit makes me so annoyed because this is exactly the sort of reaction that terrorists want from people. By fitting this attack into a pre-conceived narrative about Muslims, you are basically doing the bidding of the people who encourage these attacks. Their aim is to divide humanity and Tweets like Trump’s seem to suggest that their strategy works.
Let me make something abundantly clear: whoever did this was a coward and yes, maybe he was a ‘loser’ but right now, we need to establish the facts of the matter, offer support and prayers to those involved and take further precautions in a calm and clear-headed manner. Take a leaf out of the book of those who offered to put up people for the night in ManchesAs a UK resident and someone who has been around London several times, the response of the emergency services, the staff at the station and the ordinary citizens is heart-warming and pretty much in line with what I expect from the vast majority of my countrymen. Right now, we will pray for those who have been affected and offer whatever support we can give.
Above all, we will respond to such hatred with love and combat ignorance with understanding. London is a strong city with a rich and diverse history and as Sadiq Khan has said before, London will always prove the hate-mongers wrong. It is a city of strength in a country that prides itself on being level-headed and reasonable, even when faced with the worst of humanity. Even after a terror attack might have cost lives, the British respond by opening their doors and offering a cup of sweet, fragrant tea to anyone who needs it. It’s hard not smile at the thought which is the whole point: a nice cup of tea and a friendly chat has a way of making things better, even in times like this.
Britain will endure and it will always reject those who seek to destroy rather than build. Above all else, that will never change.