Richard Lutz warns that the Westminster attack should not start a rush to judgement.
Amid the huge media surge, there has to be a centre of calm, I think, to assess what happened in Westminster yesterday. Though facts are changing by the hour, it is too early to say the murderous rampage that ended in four deaths and forty injures was in any way, yet, linked with ISIS or Al Quaida.
The TV jumped all over it, of course, thanks to live coverage, social media and the crime’s location at the epicentre of the capital, an area intensely populated by journalists anyway as it is smack dab where the House of Commons is located.
Yes, it may be that the dead man who perpetrated this onslaught is Moslem. No one knows yet. Clearly, he was a deranged man with a vicious plan to cause death and havoc. But nowhere yet has there been any indication, despite what the police say, of a linkage with the big radical Islamic forces that have caused so much blood to spill in the Middle East or fraught worries to bubble up in the west.
So, let’s be clear. Following the horror of Westminster, following the arrests in Birmingham and London, this still is a big crime from a single unhinged man who thought something could be solved by driving a car into a crowd and then somehow assaulting Westminster Palace. To say it is a terror incident because he is Moslem is to let our guards down and start pointing too many paranoid fingers: Jewish people at the centre of a worldwide conspiracy (remember that one?), Irish Catholics all belonging to the IRA, Mexicans, according to the US president, who are rapists and killers. The sad list goes on.
Simon Jenkins, writing in the liberal Guardian this morning, points out that the French paper Le Monde decided not to name those responsible for terror murders. Some called it censorship. Others say it helped stop the fanning of terror flames by not offering the oxygen of publicity. Jenkins writes: “It is not the act that spreads terror. It is the report…the decision to prominence.”
Of course, his own paper did spend seven pages on the murders. It is a big important story, yes, but if it was a multiple mad murder in Sheffield or Glasgow, would there have been the same coverage?