With the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London over the past week or so, it’s fair to say that the UK’s resilience has been tested. With the General Election taking place tomorrow, and Theresa May promising to ‘rip up the Human Rights act’ to introduce sweeping restrictions on the Internet, and strengthen anti-terrorist legislation, it remains to be seem how things will pan out.
You can never completely overshadow the horrific consequences of fatal attacks where innocent people lose their lives, but through the dark fog of the events themselves, stories have emerged that show true humanity, rather than the bleak nihilism of the terrorists. Stories of people rushing to the defence and aid of others; fearlessly tackling armed attackers, and embracing strangers.
A couple of examples of this that have really stood out for me in particular demonstrate the best, and most ‘British’ response imaginable. In the first, a man seen ambling casually away from a pub where the attackers had struck was hailed as a spirit of defiance for taking his pint with him:
Beer is so expensive in London mind you, that leaving a full pint behind would be the real madness.
And then, there was this guy… who when confronted with three knife wielding attackers screaming ‘This is for Allah!’, replied by rushing to fight them bare handed, shouting: ‘Fuck you, I’m Millwall!’, allowing others the chance to escape the scene. For those not familiar with Millwall football club, this sort of behaviour is perfectly normal.
Speaking later after surviving multiple stab wounds all over his body, he said:
I thought, ‘I need to take the p*** out of these b******s’.
For me, this sums things up pretty beautifully. The point of these attacks is to make people afraid; to make nowhere feel safe… to withdraw in terror to an authoritarian regime that results in us turning on our neighbours and friends… but it’s tough to be afraid when you are laughing your ass off.
Those of us in Glasgow remember our own brush with ISIS well…
These attacks are always heartbreaking, and we’ll mourn the people we lose, but we also need to turn things on their head, find the humour in any situation, and laugh. Laugh right in the face of those who think they can make us scared to go outside, or scared of our Muslim friends, because their attempts to destroy who we are are laughable – and if there’s one thing the British are good at, it’s taking the piss out of those who take themselves too seriously.