The aftermath of the events in Paris has shown many of the worst things about the current media and social media. I’ve been watching, reading and following with a feeling, primarily, of sadness.
What depresses me the most – and surprises me the least – is the way that the hideousness has been used to support pretty much every agenda. I’ve seen the events used to ‘prove’ that we should leave the EU (‘control our borders’ etc) and that we should stay in the EU (‘solidarity’ with France), that we need less surveillance (it didn’t work this time, why not direct the effort and resources elsewhere) and that we need more surveillance (the threat is real, we must do everything needed). I’ve seen it said that we need to clamp down on Islam, that we need to support moderate Islam, that terrorists are all Muslims, that the vast majority of the victims of terrorism (and of ISIS in particular) are Muslims, that terrorism has no religion and so on. I’ve seen attacks on Corbyn, on Cameron, on a wide selection of journalists and ‘commentators’ for their responses to the events. I’ve seen the blame placed on Syria, France, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and of course Israel. We’re at war, I keep reading, though whether with ISIS, ‘terror’ or Islam as a whole seems a little unclear in the words of some.
I see some saying this shows how pointless the drone-killing of ‘Jihadi John’ was, and how this was in part revenge for it, and others saying how it shows the need for more such attacks. I read that this means we need to bomb Syria now – and then how it shows that bombing just makes it worse, and makes us a target. I hear that we’re too soft on refugees, and let the terrorists in under cover – and then that this just shows what the refugees have to suffer at home every day. It’s our fault for being too soft, it’s our fault for being too brutal, it’s not our fault at all.
All I can do is sigh. And feel more sadness. I see the points that everyone has. And yet all I feel is sadness. There isn’t an easy solution to any of this. There aren’t easy answers. There really aren’t, no matter how tempting some of the ideas might be. I wish there were.