It is difficult to know where to begin in responding to the news of that barbaric act in Woolwich yesterday. Here are some random thoughts.
If the perpetrators thought their actions would cowe or frighten this nation, they don’t know the British people very well. This small country stood alone against the Nazi threat, its inhumanity and its mighty war machine; while its soldiers, sailors and airmen fought on many fronts, civilians at home endured the horrors of the blitz. It will take more than we witnessed yesterday to frighten this brave nation.
There is some irony here, if we can set aside our anger and revulsion. There were some very brave acts in Woolwich yesterday. Some people placed themselves between the body of the victim and the villains who killed him; others sought to speak to the murderers and to distract them. These were extraordinarily brave acts and they were carried out by women. Radical moslems would do well to reflect on these acts of courage and of selfless mercy.
Whether the murderers sought martyrdom after their deeds is not clear but they seem to have waited for the inevitable armed police response and to have run towards it when it arrived. If news reports are correct, it was a woman police officer who shot and downed one or both of the murderers but the shots were not fatal. If this had been the USA, I suspect these villains would have been cut down unceremoniously in a hail of automatic weapon fire. In Woolwich, they were incapacitated but are in hospitals under armed guard. Again, radical moslems might reflect on the mercy and courage of a police woman to shoot to disable and not to kill when being run at by bloodstained men armed with a machette and a gun.
This nation will be moved to anger and frustration by such senseless, cruel barbarity but it will not be deterred from support for our armed services. That anger and frustration must not be vented in attacks on the Moslem community or their mosques; the vast majority reject this extremism as much as anyone. Neither must it be assuaged by support for the parties of the extreme right; that is the path of despair. We need to seek out hope not despair from this. When the anger and frustration has subsided a little or, perhaps to ease that process, why not click onto the Help for Heroes web site and make a donation? It is the most powerful statement we can make about the rejection of violent extremism and a philosophy of hope and tolerance.