When ever a terrorist attack, man made disaster or natural disaster occurs, a large variety of opinion floods social media. It is a very keen insight into the feelings of millions throughout the world. Even those who conspicuously post provocative comments are able to tap into the real feelings of others, even if ‘trolling’ remarks may not reflect the views of the typically anonymous authors.
While most remarks on social media in the event of a disaster or attack are those of sympathy, sorrow or frustration, a very large portion are also those celebrating the death of people who are perceived as representing the west.
Many people in Britain woke up to images of a tower bloc which housed over a hundred families in London, consumed by flames. At least six have died, though the real figure is probably much higher.
The building is still burning, yet celebratory remarks are already flowing in on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.
The innocent people who perished and lost their homes did not deserve to do so. But the fact that many in the wider world think that they did, shows just how hated the west has become and Britain is as western as it gets in terms of policy, attitude and arrogance.
Between the fall of the British Empire and the rise of Tony Blair, many people encouraged the myth of Britain being a graceful declining power. 1960s and 70s Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s decision to keep Britain out of the US led war on Vietnam is usually cited by those who subscribe to such a myth.
The truth is that Britain’s role in the partition of India in 1947, Britain’s mass slaughter of Kenyan Mau Mau rebels in the 1950s, the tripartite aggression of Britain, France and Israel against Egypt in 1956, Britain’s brutal role in the North Yemen Civil War in the 1960s, and the sinking of the retreating Argentine war ship Belgrano in 1982, left many people thinking that while Britain lost its empire it retained its imperialism.
Any hope that a Harold Wilson style aversion to wars like that in Vietnam would guide Britain into a more peaceful future was dashed upon the election of Tony Blair in 1997. Blair’s foreign policy was one of constant illegal war beginning with the 1999 NATO aggression against Yugoslavia and ending with the 2003 illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Since Blair’s resignation those who followed him have destroyed Libya and have attempted to destroy Syria. Britain is also a major seller of arms to Saudi Arabia, a country which uses those arms to slaughter civilians in Yemen.
Similar anti-American posts can be found on videos commemorating the deaths of the innocents during 9/11. Likewise, terrorist attacks in Paris and Germany are also met with some praise online.
It is manifestly wrong to blame innocent civilians for the actions of their governments, not least because many of these civilians face economic oppression, police brutality, social discrimination, class discrimination and race discrimination from the very governments who make war in the world.
But someone in a war zone cannot be reasonably expected to necessarily know the difference between an impoverished bloc of flats in London and the multi-million pound townhouses in the rich parts of town. For them, London is burning and it is London like Washington and Paris where the elites have authored the deaths of their families and comrades.
The west’s own selective grief is another contributing factor. When an atrocity happens in nearby countries with familiar social values, one sees tears, flowers and Facebook profile pictures changed.
When Iran was attacked by terrorists just last week, there was an eerie silence, one broken only by the White House who in a roundabout way said that Iran deserved it.
The fact is that NO ONE deserves it, but that no one can be blamed for feeling vengeful during such times.
Had Tony Blair come to power in the 1990s and repudiated militarism and aggression, had he stood up to Bill Clinton and George Bush and said that Britain is too small to offer anything other than political support to US aggression and in any case Britain is not interested, Blair would likely be remembered as something of a hero, in spite of the damage he did to the country domestically. After all, the Blair years were rich years for many in Britain, far more so than the years immediately before Blair and those immediately after.
But Blair took the road to war and Britain has not recovered. If one wants to know why Britain is hated even by those far too young to remember the British Empire first hand, one only needs to realise that the British Empire never really ended, it is just under new management. The boss is in Washington but the middle management of Empire is comprised of people who are still sitting in London just as their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers did.