This shouldn't happen in OUR country."
"We are overrun with immigrants"
"We've had enough"
Just a flavour of some of the racist "charm" I witnessed on Facebook last night. Migrants are part of our country. It is their country too. We are not overrun, and I personally have had enough of racism,
Now that I have slept on that tragic news of Woolwich I am angry for two reasons. The first reason for my anger being that a good man doing an invaluable job was killed for no other apparent reason than wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt. The second reason for my upset was our reaction to it.
What was perhaps quite unusual about this attack was that the perpetrators were not seeking to hide what they had done for the general public. In footage obtained by ITV News one of the attackers can be seen clearly trying to justify their actions to camera. They were brazen calculated men who clearly wanted to attract publicity for their actions. They did not hide, nor run and waited 20 minutes for the police to arrive.
However I feel in some of the reactions I have seen the public may have been unwittingly helping them to achieve that goal of maximum publicity. The attacks have been roundly condemned by many Islamic groups who have been at pains to stress that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the British people in solidarity and feel their pain. The Muslim Council of Great Britain and others have been unequivocal in pointing out that such attacks have no basis in Islam.
To my mind such attacks are no relation to the actual religion they claim to honour. Muslims would find these attacks rightly abhorrent and a stain on our country. I was also horrified by some of the reactions of so-called friends on my personal Facebook page. So horrified was I that inspired by my friend Paris Lees I posted the following statement that can be read here. It amazed me how people so quickly decided on the basis of zero evidence that people decided all Muslims were to blame.
In one sense I was saddened that I had to, but in another I was glad I did the right thing. And to make sure these were not just warm words I acted upon them and made Facebook deletions.
It is perhaps my own naivety and general desire to see the good in everyone that meant I was surprised by the reactionary and rash outbursts I saw.
Psychologically one thing I have learnt from the last 24 hours is that events such as those in Woolwich bring out the worst in people on social media. Much like a volcano racist views lie dormant, and then tragic events such as those in Woolwich become a perfect rationale, and the volcano erupts voraciously.
I was told last night that we should all post on the EDL page because we have had enough of our country being taken over by immigrants. I wonder often who people refer to when they talk of "we".
Also if they had had enough why did they not act before last night? People acting as online vigilantes, judges, juries and courts is a disturbing trend. Off the back of the recent UKIP results however it is not surprising or new. These views are a prime example of the Jungian shadow side; that which is undesirable or hidden and that which we try to keep in our innermost unconsciousness.
Perhaps it is proof that you don't know your friends as well as you think you do. I was not alone in this. Other people spoke of having to delete friends because of racist views. People seem to be less guarded from behind a computer screen. Also friends spoke at their pride of not having to do so. Because I am in a minority I am friends with many others in minorities and I naïvely thought that they would agree with me. I thought I lived in a modern tolerant progressive Britain. It seems I was wrong.
The hunger for the EDL is also misguided. Yobbish violence is not the answer. They whip up hysteria and fear. The actions committed by these men have nothing to do with the majority of Muslims who are rightly ashamed and embarrassed by these actions, which they feel has brought the Muslim community into disrepute.
Throwing bottles and missiles and engaging in running battles with police does not solve the problem. It only adds to it and makes the EDL no better than the two perpetrators who killed this heroic soldier and gloried in the crime. Police keep the country which the EDL loves so much safe. Everybody loves a scapegoat and for now immigrants, particularly Muslims are that scapegoat. Fanning the flames of tension, and inciting civil disobedience and hatred is the height of crass irony.
For most of my adult life I have depended on the migrant workforce to provide with me personal care due to physical disability. As such, the reactions I have witnessed have upset me. Racism is rancid and not something you expect from usually sensible people. I have also wondered if they would ever use my minority status against me.
As I think I am drawn to the case of the Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro. He was an out and proud Christian.
Yet I never saw any burning down of churches or any of the white population targeted. This is a sign that racism is still prevalent in Britain, and that in itself is a worrying realisation.
I feel also that white privilege may be at play. In other words this sends the message that in Britain you can do anything you like free of persecution but if you are not white then you better watch your back.
There is nothing more damaging nor divisive than such an attitude. We are not perfect either.
Perhaps some national privilege too. What makes us feel more impregnable than other country?
I wonder too about a grieving family for whom in my opinion the EDL showed no respect. They brought chaos, terror and fear to a place already reeling and on a knife edge after the day's events.
It really annoys me when people claim to be doing something in someone's honour or for somebody.
No: this is an untruth. Organisations like the EDL do as they do for their own selfish reasons to garner publicity and they hijack for hatred where tensions abound. If they had really wanted to do something constructive they could have made a donation to Help for Heroes. Feral rule and lawlessness instead won the day. A mother has lost their son. A family has lost a member. To those romanticising and lauding what the EDL have done I would ask that you reflect upon that for a moment. They are grieving and mourning. How can throwing missiles and bottles reduce their grief? The answer is it cannot.
The religion of Islam is not to blame for the atrocities last night and yesterday afternoon. Extremism is to blame but that doesn't mean I sanction the damnation and condemnation of every Muslim.
The point is what the EDL did last night is no better. The EDL too practice the politics of fear rhetoric and spin. We are not flooded with immigrants. We are a diverse nation and I'm proud of that. It's a pity some former friends do not share my pride. Rivers of blood, as advocated by Enoch Powell are not the answer.
Make no mistake I am not saying we have no right to be angry. We absolutely do. But condemning an entire religion is not the answer. I am not saying we should censor ourselves from engaging in debate.
Let us though be sure we are aiming our anger in the right place.
Let us also be sure that we are expressing it in a measured and pragmatic manner. I plead that this would be the case; otherwise we are giving extremists the oxygen of publicity they crave so ardently already.