How Not To React To A Tragedy

You are a reporter at a major news company who has just got word of an alleged terror attack in London.

  • Do you attempt to verify the information before proceeding, knowing that too-hasty reporting could see misinformation spread and potentially hinder a police investigation?
  • Or do you immediately take to Twitter and rolling news stations, attempting to be the first with the developments, whether they are accurate or not?

You hold a high-up position at ITV.Your organisation has acquired disturbing video of one of the killers justifying his actions and warning of more bloodshed.

  • Do you decide not to air it, denying these killers the platform they crave for their message?
  • Do you believe the public has the right to see the video, but due to its disturbing nature make sure to air it only after the watershed and with proper warning?
  • Or do you show the clip in full on the six o’clock news, exposing children to angry rhetoric delivered by a man still holding the bloody knife?

You work for a prominent British broadsheet. You feel an obligation to inform the public as fully as possible regarding the events in Woolwich, but at the same time worry about giving terrorists a platform for their views, or stirring up fear among the nation.

  • Do you strike a balance, explaining what happened while appealing for calm and shifting the focus from killer to victim; mindful of the fact that the alternative could set a worrying precedent and show other potential extremists the audience their message could reach?
  • Or do you splash a direct quote on the front page, warning Britain they ‘will never be safe’?

You work for a prominent British tabloid. You are aware of the direction other papers are taking with their reporting of the tragedy. You are also aware that your readership is at least partially made up of EDL sympathisers and other ‘patriots’.

  • Do you publish a plea for sanity and peace, calling on people of all faiths to come together to condemn the acts of an extreme minority?
  • Do you focus on the brave members of the public who intervened to stop the killers hurting others?
  • Or do you selectively use the killers’ words to issue what appears to be a call for vengeance, allege al-Qaeda links and refer to the murderers as ‘Muslim fanatics’?


You are a member of the EDLYou were angered but not surprised by the Woolwich attack. It fits into your worldview. You watched the news and saw the killers talk of wanting to start a war on London streets.

  • Do you refuse to give them what they want, unite with those who condemn the killing and mourn the dead respectfully?
  • Or do you put on a balaclava and fight police on the streets of Woolwich, both wasting the time of officers trying to conduct an antiterrorism investigation and bringing London closer to that ‘war’ the killers dreamed of?


You are a young British Muslim.

You have watched Britain send troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, killing thousands. You are appalled by the Woolwich killing, but at the same time wonder why the murder of a 75-year-old Pakistani man in Birmingham with a machete just three weeks before didn’t get reported more widely.

In the days and weeks after the attack you see the front pages screaming about Muslims.  You hear about attacks on British mosques and read bigoted statements on Facebook and Twitter from people you thought were your friends. Kids from your neighbourhood begin to join the EDL. The rise of UKIP forces Cameron to the right, and his speeches become riddled with dog-whistle rhetoric, speaking of ‘British values‘ and the ‘failings of multiculturalism‘. Politicians, the media, and even your community begin to treat you as the enemy. You, a British citizen, are told to go home.

Shunned by your community, you turn to online messageboards and find people who understand. People who know what it’s like to be the ‘alien’ in your own country. People who don’t ignore the suffering in the Muslim world. People who accept you. Suddenly the radicals begin to make sense to you. You never agreed with their methods, but their message begins to resonate.

What do you do?


You are a reporter at a major news company who has just got word of an alleged terror attack in London. 

About ourfriendsinthewest

A British take on American politics.

3 responses to “How Not To React To A Tragedy”

  1. Jueseppi B. says :

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Very good post. Thank you Our Friends In The West.

  2. petchary says :

    Absolutely spot on. Point well taken. I was thinking the very same thing…

  3. europasicewolf says :

    The points you have made here are very valid and many are echoing similar sentiments. It is however a little unfortunate, perhaps, that those in power still do not see naything at all wrong with invading other countries such as Iraq in the name of oil…erm…liberation (???!!!), killing countless numbers of the enemy, destroying in the process the lives and happiness of their families and wives…all in the name of oil…oops…liberation…uninvited, unwelcome and against the wishes of the British people and many of the citizens of other countries too. The brutal murder of this British soldier was horrendous…and no doubt it was much less so for the wives and children of those regarded as the enemy by invading forces in Iraq? And less so for those innocent men and women and children who were terrorised in their homeland and suffered the atrocites of war and all that goes with it, at the hands of invading troops, ? In the name of oil? But that was different….wasn’t it???? There is no justification for what happened to that soldier…but there is no justification for the wholly illegal Iraq war or others like it either.

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