Within minutes of the news breaking about the absolutely horrifying terrorist attacks in London, across social media people were coming up with and spreading conspiracy theories about the attack. They encouraged whoever came across their posts to ‘keep an open mind’.
Here’s a theory of mine about those who carried out the attacks:
They were young men who spent all their time stoned online watching all sorts of utterly irresponsible and scurrilous videos on YouTube. They rejected the ‘mainstream media’ as inherently corrupt and believed that the Internet gave them access to deeper and more dangerous truths hidden from ordinary people, who they regarded as catastrophically naive.
And here’s a message from me to those spreading inane and obnoxious conspiracy theories about the London attack:
The appropriate response to the indiscriminate mass murders is not to ‘keep an open mind’. It’s to read the facts as reported by responsible and professional journalists who were on the scene. Those who abuse social media to spread puerile conspiracy theories are little better than the hate preachers who exploit the horror to push their violent and racist agendas.
Have respect for the victims by reading the established facts about what was done to them. Don’t hide from the reality of what happened by ignoring news reports. After all, you’re supposed to be an adult. Claiming that the ‘MSM’ is all the same, that the Guardian or the BBC are no more to be trusted than the Daily Star or Fox News, is puerile. It also happens to be what Donald Trump wants you to believe.
When dealing with the mass media, be critical, but don’t be gullible or cynical. These events are real, just like Climate Change is real. Don’t get misled by manipulative but comforting internet fairy tales. That’s one way that young men (and it is always, always, always young men) get to the point where they can carry out things like this.
And don’t take the apparent fact that the three dead terrorists were known to police as evidence of collusion. If the police arrested all young men suspected of jihadi sympathies, thousands upon thousands of presumably innocent people would have to be interned. We haven’t yet got to that point, thank God. Similarly, if anyone can think of ways to stop people driving vans into pedestrians or running into crowded open spaces with knives, feel free to suggest them. These are complex, difficult issues – it’s far easier to just shout ‘ban Islam!’ or ‘false flag!’. Such responses are not, in the end, all that dissimilar: thoughtless, kneejerk reactions to a seemingly intractable problem (of young men disaffected to the point of psychopathic nihilism and exploited by political interests), which can only be meaningfully addressed by means of the application of intelligence and patience, with respect for the rule of law and human rights absolutely paramount. Let’s do everything we can to ensure we will soon have a government which understands that.
If you want to link these attacks to the election, don’t be a dick and go around telling people that they were secretly carried out by The Man. Point out that the heroes of the hour – the police, the paramedics, the surgeons and nurses – are all having their jobs, wages and conditions cut and the services they provided exploited for profit, and the survivors of such tragedies, those left physically crippled and/or psychologically damaged by the experience, are bullied and made destitute by a Government that has complete contempt for the notion of the public good. All of that happens to be true – you don’t need to believe in some sub-Infowars bullshit conspiracy theory to see that our rulers urgently need to be replaced. The basic facts about injustice and corruption are not hidden, however consoling it may be to pretend that they are. The idea that the world is run in secret is useful to the powerful – if it were true, it would leave us powerless to do anything about it. Thankfully, it isn’t, and we’re not. If you want to exercise your power, get offline and go canvassing instead. We have very little time left.