Yesterday morning, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a short but significant speech outside 10 Downing Street.
We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change and they need to change in four important ways.
First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.
It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.
Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time, but it cannot be defeated by military intervention alone. It will not be defeated by the maintenance of a permanent defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners.
It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values – pluralistic British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.
Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.
We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy Isis in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home.
While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations.
But the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism, and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.
Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy, that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up.
So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.
And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorist-related offences – even apparently less serious offences – that is what we will do.
Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say `Enough is enough’.
If May were an alcoholic, now is the moment when she’d admit her alcoholism is a problem, that it has taken over her life, and would take concrete steps to do something about it.
CNN is painting her speech as electoral opportunism:
Her tough message was delivered against the backdrop of a general election, which will go ahead this Thursday, despite the campaign now being marred by two terror attacks — unprecedented in modern British politics. Some of her political opponents will claim that she has ramped up the authoritarian rhetoric to win back votes after her lead in the opinion polls has slipped against Labour and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
But she is presiding over a society in crisis. The UK has largely abetted the growth of domestic jihadism by effectively allowing the large Muslim minority to develop a parallel society where Sharia is the law and where police are terrified of investigating things like rape gangs because of fear of being labeled as racist. The last three attacks have been carried out by jihadists known to British security forces, one of the ones in Saturday’s attack was featured in a documentary on homegrown jihadis.
Years of diversity-training-as-state-religion has resulted in this kind of Alice in Wonderland situation related this morning by Ben Domenech in The Transom:
Turn to this video captured during the attack, and you’ll see, or rather hear, what I’m talking about. You’ll see police barge into a pub near London Bridge, shouting at customers to get on the ground. http://vlt.tc/2vhp At the 37 second mark, you’ll hear a man, in the midst of an attack and likely believing his life was in danger, shout “F–king Muslim c–ts!” The man making the video replies, “Shut up mate, you f–king idiot. It’s not Muslims.” He later took to Twitter to follow up. http://vlt.tc/2vj8 “It’s me saying it isn’t the Muslims in that video because it bloody well isn’t. Stop grouping people based on a cult. They aren’t Islamic. It’s f–king lazy and downright racist to label all Islam alongside these scumbags.” So again, keep in mind that as this video is being filmed, people are being stabbed and attacked. The police are running to try and stop them. And in the middle of this attack, this young Brit’s priority is to say “not all Muslims” to those huddled on the floor. A nation of juveniles yelling “that’s racist” on their phones in the midst of a terror attack does not exactly indicate the persistence of the toughened spines that beat the Boche.
And even in this state of crisis, May can’t completely escape from the politically correct groupthink required in order to have free speech in Britain: “It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam.”
This is manifestly not true and even if it were, a kafir woman is not the woman to make a convincing case to Muslim men, particularly with the “perversion” she rails against is taught in a large number of British mosques.
Recognizing the problem is a necessary but not sufficient condition for remedying the situation. But no solution is possible without this critical first step.