Rolling “mainstream” media coverage has been doing its part to strike fear into the people of London since a crazed man ran over pedestrians in Westminster before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament this afternoon. The Met Police confirmed four people dead—including the assailant—and 20 injured.
Despite only this very little information, almost all of the news outlets have successfully labelled this a “terror attack”. Sky News’ voiceover ominously took it to the extent of a “terror attack at the heart of British political life.” All that is known about the assailant is that he appears to be a brown person with a beard.
Even if it turns out that this was an attack carried out by ISIS or similar organisation, it does not legitimise the jumping to conclusions and the state media’s propensity for spinning any tragic incident by a minority as “terrorism” with the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy that brings. As a result, any new piece of information is bent and twisted to try to fit through this paradigm to keep it a “terror attack until proven otherwise”, rather than what it actually was as a matter of fact: a tragic case of criminality perpetrated by ostensibly a member of a minority, which is otherwise statistically so common as to be ‘background noise’, tragically. After all, the Office for National Statistics’ most recent annual homicide statistics for England and Wales are 695, with knife crimes a tragic 30,838. 
The point of terrorism is to terrorise and cause chaos for a clear political motive. The main reason people in Britain are being terrorised at the moment, is by the sad current state of those media outlets which are wanting to portray this as a terror attack at all costs, with their reasons ranging from a rare, juicy story that brings website traffic or boosts ratings, to a more malicious agenda pandering to securocrats and populists. Those who actually want to fight terror should not fuel it and give it the oxygen of publicity. That is, if it does in fact turn out to be carried out by a political or reactionary group.
“Don’t let a good crisis go to waste”
This appears to be the motto of those securocrats and right wing populists that have already shamefully hijacked this tragedy to score points against their chosen bogeyman, rally for more funding and power for the Counter Terror Industry, or to persuade the public to exchange their civil liberties for “security”. We have seen, predictably, the same talking heads wheeled out on the mainstream news faithfully speaking for their respective lobbies. Again, while the motives of the attack are still purely speculated.
This opportunism is arguably even more harmful and dangerous than the incident itself, because it fuels a cycle of violent rhetoric and securitisation. Populists use it as political currency to spread their hate further, even after it has been shown to precipitate in the murder of a British MP last year.
We are seeing people from media outlets to governments, bending over backwards to appease and pander to populist tendencies, at a time where far right and fascist political parties stand a genuine chance of gaining power in Europe. This is not being “soft on terror.” On the contrary, opposition to this makes perfect genuine counter-terrorism sense. This leads to more racism, and more demonisation, disenfranchisement and alienation of minorities—which happen to be the actual, empirically-determined causes of terrorism and political violence in the first place. The cycle is complete.
The real attack on democracy
The condemnable negligence of our political establishment and our “most right-wing media in Europe,” in choosing juicy, fear-provoking headlines and populism over our long term stability needs to be challenged, and people should push news outlets to deal with events as they are, instead of fuelling fear, paranoia and terror to the nth degree.
This may have been one “lone wolf”’s attempted attack against “democracy”, but the real attack against democracy which very few people care to cover or think about is the fact that MPs have faced a record number of death threats since one of them was murdered by a white right-wing nationalist shouting “Britain first” months ago. One in eight MPs face “serious threats” according to the police, to such an extent that 85 MPs need extra protection, since Jo Cox’s tragic death. No prizes for guessing why that does not make the front pages.
Tragic events like these and their reprehensible, sensationalist coverage remind us of Herman and Chomsky’s ‘propaganda model’ in Manufacturing Consent, particularly the importance of manufacturing a “common enemy” to keep the public distracted and subdued. If this event does turn out to be claimed by a “terrorist group”, Muslim or otherwise, the public has to take responsibility into their own hands to oppose those who seek to push their malicious agendas using it.
Not only do we have to remind people of facts, simple logic, statistical significance, and so on, but while powerful media magnates with an agenda seek to put a magnifying glass on crimes commit by demonised minorities (inevitably seeking to call it “terrorism”), the public must raise awareness of those actually suffering terrorism from superpowers elsewhere. Only days ago, for example, Trump’s New America carried out targeted multiple strikes on a mosque in Jena in Syria—bombing it, then again to seal the main exit, and then a third time to hit the crowd of 56 worshippers as they fled from the remaining exit to a nearby field.
Whilst we are told by media corporations obedient to such terrorism to instead focus our attention on ‘lone wolves’—tragic as any loss of innocent life is—we must resist the temptation to fall for the trap of being drawn into a cycle of fear and bloodshed that only benefits those with a malicious agenda to disempower people here and abroad.
The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.