As if on cue, in the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London political leaders are trotting out the usual treacly lines that have become so rote. But the words they pretend will provide comfort to anyone but the most naïve are borderline worthless. Worse, they’re an insult to the families who have had to experience the shocking pain of the sudden loss of a family member or friend at the hands of a terrorist.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called Saturday’s attack “deliberate and cowardly,” and asked “all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant today and in the days ahead.” Most notably, he said: “You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world.”
What a thing to say at a time like this. Shouldn’t Britons be alarmed? Isn’t Saturday’s attack in London, coming as it did on the heels of the Manchester bombing, deeply disturbing? Why isn’t Khan more concerned about the threats that are so obviously at the doorstep, or better put, in Britain’s streets? Does anyone really take comfort from being told about swift police response times after yet another terrorist attack?
Our Politicians Can’t Handle the Truth
The sad truth, and getting sadder with every attack, is that the political class has little interest in doing what would really be necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, let alone talk about it. They don’t want to talk about how Britain’s lax immigration policies over decades led to hundreds of thousands of immigrants entering the country with varying degrees of willingness to assimilate and adopt Western values. They don’t want to openly criticize the blatant problems with the multiculturalism the UK has pursued for years and the obvious impact it has had on the immigrant population.
Oh no. This would cost them too much. It would shatter the façade of political correctness that’s been constructed over our “civilized” western world, and destroy the illusion, so vital to the political class, that Western values are universal.
The politicians are only willing to give speeches about how united we are and how terrorists cannot tear us apart. But the truth—so clear and obvious—is that with every attack the West becomes more and more divided. We are not united, not by a long shot. Before the bodies of the poor souls who were killed Saturday by radical Islamists were even identified, the Left and Right were at one another’s throats. On that score, the terrorists emerge victorious every time.
Yes, there are beautiful and touching scenes of strangers helping one another, opening their homes, offering free rides. This is a reminder of the goodness that still exists as part of our shared humanity. But such gestures don’t, ultimately, unite us. Neither do candlelight vigils and marches through the streets of Paris—or tearful pop concerts in Manchester.
The Intellectually Weak Attack Anyone More Courageous
There’s little to no tolerance in polite society for the kind of honesty for which many in the West are hungry. The Washington Post ran a headline Sunday that read, “World Leaders Call For Unity After London Attack. Trump tweets the complete opposite.” The article chastises President Trump for not joining in the fake condolences and platitudes of the political elite, and praises those elites for their messages of hope. But what, exactly, are they saying we should be hopeful for?
Trump, who is often wrong, was correct in tweeting Sunday that, “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people.” A growing number of those people are scared, and sick of turning on the news to hear of yet another heartbreaking attack then hearing the same meaningless bromides from their leaders.
They want a leader who doesn’t just try to inure them to this kind of random violence but stands up and says that we’re not going to take it, that this isn’t an acceptable status quo. Whether Trump is that leader is highly debatable, but at least he’s making a nod toward it.
But whenever political leaders do dare to talk candidly about some of these problems, there’s intense pushback and outrage. Take Trump’s travel ban. Like it or hate it, the ban was aimed at curbing immigration from countries that are de facto failed states. These are places where a terrorist could easily go unnoticed by whatever remnant of a security service remains and fly to the United States undetected. When Trump unveiled his travel ban earlier this year, America practically devoured itself with protests at airports, counter-protests, and a wave of lawsuits. The reaction robbed us of any real chance of having a conversation about the ways in which we might need to reconsider our immigration policies for the sake of national security.
The Real Message: Get Used to It
British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday that “enough is enough” and that Britain can’t “pretend that things can remain the same.” Is she just campaigning? Parliamentary elections are, after all, next week. Or is she finally saying what needs to be said? If things cannot remain the same, will May come out and say what exactly needs to change?
Even if she does mean it, and even if she does spell out what must change, she won’t be able to do anything significant in Parliament because most of the political class will remain opposed to any drastic policy changes.
Our political leaders are basically telling us that this kind of terrorism, random and deadly, is the price we have to pay for their policies of multiculturalism and political correctness. They know that their weak platitudes can’t stop terrorism, and so do the people. They might as well come out and say what they mean: get used to the new normal.