Inequality stretches even to acts of terrorism.
The arrest and trial of Pavlo Lapshyn, a 25 year-old student who has admitted ‘racially’ motivated murder and bombings, has been conducted as these things should. There has not been a media ‘storm’, or calls for the curtailing of civil liberties, or the provision of the oxygen of publicity to those who wish to disrupt a peaceful way of life. It would be nice to believe that this was because British media outlets and the state were taking a leaf from the book of Norway in their prosecution of Anders Breivik. In his case the case was heard calmly and his beliefs thoroughly discredited.
The bare facts in the case of Lapshyn are this: he murdered an 82 year-old man and perpetrated a string of bombings against mosques with the express intention of increasing tension between Muslims and non-Muslims. It might be obvious to point out, but clearly if the religious roles were reversed in those events it would be hard to imagine anything other than blanket media coverage.
There are differences between this and other recent acts of ‘terrorism’ (as defined by the government, police and media). Lapshyn was apparently ‘self-radicalised’ rather than being part of an organisation or network. Perhaps some would argue that made his actions less liable to publicity, as the crimes begun and ended with him. There aren’t – apparently – an army of radicalised Ukranians, or white-supremecists, ready to commit like actions in the UK. Countless other points could be made along similar lines, no doubt.
It cannot be the case, however, that any of these exceptions could make up for the lack of awareness of the crimes committed. West Midlands deputy chief constable David Thompson made the point himself – hardly an anti-authoritarian figure. The identification and near constant reinforcement of a threat from militant Islam stokes suspicion and fear of all Muslims. 9/11, and 7/7 in the UK, provided compelling evidence of an ‘enemy within’, which the state argues needed be countered by increased intrusion into the lives of the citizenry, suspension of civil liberties, due process and so on. It also provided a background narrative to foreign military adventures, despite the mounting evidence that those actions led to a direct increase in the threats to civilians in the UK and the US.
That one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fight, is a truism that simplifies the nature of the debate. In this case one man’s terrorist is just someone you’ve never heard of.