AN INNOCENT MARTYR, DRUMMER LEE RIGBY: Jonathan Gabay
It seems in every generation a familiar question is heard: “Where were you when …”
JFK, The Twin Towers, Princess Diana and now Drummer Lee Rigby. Listening to London talk radio stations discuss the killing, this horrific slaughter seems to have split the London’s greater populace in two. There are those who phone into the stations to defend Islam as a peaceful religion. Then there are those –the otherwise silent majority – calling in literally crying in anguish over the barbaric murder of the Fusilier.
Of course everyone with any decency is devastated about a cruel murder – committed in clear daylight in the heart of the capital. But as a Brit I can testify that it takes a tremendous event to cause mass crying.
In psychotherapy there is a term called, transference in which patient (or client) displaces on to his analyst feelings which stem from previous figures in their lives. There are also some other relevant to the issue terms: Displacement: the process by which energy (primary thinking / the mental representation of objects) is transferred from one mental image to another. Finally, of significance to this article, there is sublimation, a defence mechanism that enables people to act out unacceptable impulses by transferring these behaviours into a more acceptable expression. For example, an angry person might take up boxing as a means of venting frustration. Sigmund Freud explained that sublimation was a sign of maturity allowing people to function normally in socially acceptable ways.
The national mourning over the death of Diana could be partly interpreted as a symbol of protest over change – or to be more precise – non-change with ruling classes.
Equally, the national outpouring of sorrow could be interpreted as a tipping point in social fury over political issues including mass unemployment, lack of governmental direction, but mostly, loss, or at best confusion, of the meaning, perception values, aims, cohesion and general communal experience of brand UK.
Add to this, the horridness that the young man who was killed had, only years earlier been willing to literally fight for his country – only to be murdered on home turf, as well as mounting social feeling of expurgation over political correctness, and you have all the ingredients for a volcano on the verge of eruption.
From a propaganda point of view, the deranged fanatics who slew Mr Rigby openly invited people to film the event. This was to promote a distorted view of a venerated religion. This makes wonder what would have happened if the wars in Iraq and subsequent wars in Afghanistan had taken place with civilians having greater access to instant filming of real-time consequences on the ordinary civilian during a war.
Clearly, the perpetrators of the Woolwich slaying were looking to propagate, via social media, their political cause. From a strategic public relations response point of view, rather than unite the country, the Prime Minister’s official response in Parliament, may have inadvertently triggered more suppressed division in the community.
Rather than stating that the country welcomes all religions and equally will deal harshly with all fanatics irrespective of race and belief, the Prime Minister took another approach. Immediately following a brief – and totally appropriate message of condolence to the bereaved family – the Prime Minister spent considerable time praising the religion of Islam. He spoke of the Koran and its general goodness. I for one would not argue against him. But his rhetoric came across as being somehow apologetic.
It reminded one of a parent having a child at school that is bullied, but being afraid of the child’s parent – another bully – so saying nothing. It suggested a leader looking to appease as many potential voters as possible, rather than have a specific direction and set of principles.
I am proud of being British and of the country’s long history of integrating beneficial communities into its greater society. However, given the current economic and political climate, I fear that at some point, in the name of people clinging on to a cohesive identity, the death of Drummer Lee Rigby may be a day remembered for very different reasons.