22nd March 2017: Westminster Attack Ruminations

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I don’t remember how I found out, I think my Grandad told me. But after it happened, I was in a taxi coming back to my uni house, and I was talking to the taxi driver about it. The 22nd of March 2017. My friends were involved in the Westminster attack.

Westminster

It has been 2 years since the Westminster attack claimed six lives, and injured forty-nine people. I am writing about this today, and I’ve never really talked about it, because of the recent terror attacks that have happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. You think of the action that took place in the aftermath of that attack, and that of the London ones, and it really does annoy me.

For context, I was an undergraduate at the time studying History with Politics. First-year and second-year students were taken to London for a trip to Westminster. For my own reasons, I declined to go. I don’t like London, and I had already visited Westminster Palace and saw PMQs. A few of my friends chose to go, as did many of the first years. And then the attack happened.

My friends Travis, Graham, Emma, Craig, and many others were there. Travis was hit by the car and had his leg broken, amongst other injuries. Westminster went into lockdown, and my lecturer was stuck in there with the MP’s. luckily, my peers all survived the attack, though some of them were injured.

This really upset me. Insulting me the most was that I had the press message me. They wanted pictures of Travis for their own gain. I wrote about that at the time. Considering the emotions at the time, and the demands, it wound me up.

Anyway, time went on, and people went back to regular lives. And I distinctly remember when I first saw people from the attack. It was really good to see them again.

Christchurch

The Christchurch attacks have prompted decisive action from Jacinda Ardern. Firstly, she said she would never use the attacker’s name. Secondly, she banned all forms of automatic weapons from New Zealand. We haven’t seen that from Westminster.

Although the Christchurch attacks are different from Westminster, the response was much more urgent. In my mind, both attacks are equally important. Consequently, the government should have responded in an equal manner. Because the terrorist was killed, he was not charged. In terms of commemoration, there has been very little from the government. Travis himself has talked about it. As a friend, I feel let down by this.

The Government’s inaction in creating proper commemoration reeks of contumacy. Likewise, the commemoration of Christchurch makes this even worse. In the past, I have stated that we should celebrate life in times of violence and terror. Terrorists want us to remember death and destruction. They want to disrupt life. The only way we, as a nation, can show terrorism that we will not let them get us down is through life.

Celebrate life, make a day of it. Furthermore, use the day to clean gravestones, set off chinese lanterns, dispose of ashes, and remember life. The act of living. In my opinion, that will kill terrorism. Besides, what world do you want to live in? One of fear, or one which treats life as it it should be? At last, we can finally conquer terror.

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Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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