Saturday, 23 July 2016

Yet another terrible event

Like many other people, last night Sue and I watched the events in Munich unfold on TV as the evening progressed. Coming as it did so soon after the recent axe attack on the train in Wurzburg, the first conclusion was that it was probably another IS-inspired act of terrorism. Then the fact that it was the fifth anniversary of the attacks make by Anders Brevik in Norway raised the possibility that it had been perpetrated by a right-wing extremist or extremists, and this gained some currency from the video of a long-range exchange between an alleged gunman and someone on the balcony of an apartment near to the scene of the shootings.

When we awoke this morning the situation seemed to have become clearer, and it now appears that a young man with dual German/Iranian nationality acted alone. No reason for the attack has yet emerged, and at first he seemed to have chosen his victims at random. We now hear that many 'young people and adolescents are among the dead, and children are among those injured'. Does this mean that this shooter had more in common with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who perpetrated the Columbine High School massacre, than the radicalised people who have committed attacks in France and Belgium over the past few years? Only time – and a proper investigation – will tell.

In the meantime the families of the dead and injured have to come to terms with their grief and loss, and regardless of the motivation of the killer, their lives have been changed forever by his actions. Today our sympathies must go out to the people of Germany, but most particularly to the families of the innocent victims of this attack, and yet again I deeply and sincerely hope that this will be the last time I will have to comment on such a tragedy.

14 comments:

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    1. Sgt. Steiner,

      It seems that this was perpetrated by a very disturbed individual who would have been almost impossible to stop from doing what he did.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Dear Bob,

    We Americans have lived through at least two decades of horror, sparked by the anger of people who wish to blame others for their misfortunes. They will use guns to attack others, most often people that they do not even know as the outlet for their hostility sometimes fueled by psychosis and just as often the product of a deep seated sociopathy.
    Decent people, like the vast majority of us, can only offer support in any way we are able for the families and friends who have been so hurt and aggrieved. Right now all I can do is offer prayer and my best thoughts for those suffering this day in Munich and elsewhere.
    Jerry

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    1. Celtic Curmudgeon (Jerry),

      I wish that I could say that the UK had avoided this sort of thing ... but we haven't.

      * On 19th August 1987 Michael Robert Ryan shot and killed 16 people in Hungerford, Berkshire, before committing suicide.
      * On 13th March 1996 Thomas Hamilton killed sixteen children (aged 5 to 6) and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School near Stirling, Scotland before killing himself.
      * On 2nd June 2010 Derrick Bird killed 12 people and injured 11 others at various locations in Cumbria before killing himself.

      Luckily these sorts of things do not happen that often, which is why they have such an impact when they do. We can only imaging the effects that these attacks have on the friends and families of the dead and injured, and as you write, all that we can do is to offer our prayers and our support to them now and in the future.

      All the best,

      Bob

      PS. Andy Murray and his brother Jamie were both present at Dunblane Primary School on the day of the massacre but were not in the class that Hamilton attacked.

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  3. Europe seems to be coming under increasing attack from people with ... who knows what's with them? It is worth trying to find out, though. One thing is clear, for what it's worth. The attackers feel a sense of alienation from the society within which they live. Given the dystopia into which the West seems determined to descend (I include li'l ol' Kiwiland, here, though we aren't so far along), that alienation will only become more widespread.

    By and large, politicians have demonstrated for all to see their complete and utter uselessness whenever a real problem comes along. As often as not they are the cause in the first place.

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    1. Yep: I DO blame the government. It's their fault.

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    2. Archduke Piccolo,

      I cannot comment on what is going on in the rest of Europe (although I suspect that it is suffering from the same sort of social malaise) but I became very aware towards the end of my career in education of a growing trend amongst some of my students. A number of them seemed to expect to become rich and famous for doing very little or nothing at all. The boys seemed to expect to become highly paid professional footballers or members of a boy band whilst the girls were going to be models or singers or actresses. Any particular talent in these areas was not seen as necessary. This attitude was fostered by the media, with its constant diet of 'talent' shows, 'reality' TV shows, and C-list 'celebrity' magazines. When true reality hit them (i.e. that they were going to have to work to earn a living), they quickly became disillusioned with the society in which they lived.

      In parallel the concept that bullying was acceptable - and at the same time unacceptable - came to the fore. I was accused of bullying a student because I told them that I expected them to turn up to lessons and to do the work they were set; at the same time it was perfectly acceptable for them to make very personal comments about another student's clothes, choice of music etc., and when I tried to intervene I was told by my superiors that this was acceptable 'banter'. Those same superiors then expected me to get the same students through the increasingly regimented and unrealistic examination system and to achieve better results each year ... or else lose my job.

      In society as a whole, earning vast sums of money if you happen to be head of a large business that pays it workers poorly is acceptable, and government seems unable to stop this. House prices have risen to such an extent that some public sector workers cannot afford to live within a reasonable distance of where they work. This is seen as allowing market forces to 'work' for everyone's benefit!

      I could go one ... but I won't. Society in the UK is sick, and will not get better until some of the basic problems are tackled. Most politicians - regardless of where they are on the political spectrum - are only interested in short-term solutions and only a very few even think about the long-term.

      So why hasn't the UK dissolved into anarchy? Because most of the population are basically good people. The recent referendum was as much about the state of the UK as it was about membership of the EU. People are worried that their society is falling apart and that no one seems able or willing to do anything to stop it. Hence the oft heard cry heard during the referendum campaign about getting control of the country back. I suspect that this is also one of the reasons why Mr Trump is gaining such support in the USA. He is promising to 'fix' the problems most people see need fixing. Whether he can or not remains to be seen.

      Sorry about the very political nature of my reply, but I feel very strongly that something needs to be done, but that my voice is and has been a rather a lonely one shouting in the wilderness.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    3. Archduke Piccolo,

      I think that they need to take their share of the blame ... but not exclusively.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. As society's large self-anoited leaders, they should be at the head of the queue for any blame that gets handed about. The sick society you have described - and New zealand bids fair to descend by the same track - is largely the creation of politicians, who Tory (conservative) or Whig (Labour), espoused Milton Friedmanite economic lunacy that was, in effect, 'licence to loot.'

      The dystopia in the education system I also tend think of as due to over-interference by politicians who, in their ignorance, refused even to listen, let along take the advice, of people who knew what they were talking about.

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    5. Archduke Piccolo,

      I cannot disagree with much of what you have written, particularly with regard to the education system. Things began to go seriously wrong when the powers-that-be started to call the parents of children in our schools 'consumers' ... just as if they were buying something.

      Soon afterwards came league tables and 'success' being measured by exam results. Somewhere along the line the people running our education system 'forgot' that the true measure of an country's education system can only begin to be made twenty to thirty years after schooling has ended. If the pupils have been given the right tools to learn, they will adapt and prosper as society develops and changes, but if all they are taught is data that soon becomes obsolete, they will not be able to cope anywhere near as well.

      I could go on infinitum, but I won't!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Harris and Klebold's atrocity at Columbine high was students attacking fellow students and teachers. Not right wing extremists attacking children. Unfortunately, there are way too many sick people in the world with intent to harm.

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    1. Brent,

      As the investigation into the recent events in Munich are unfolding, it appears that the perpetrator was not an extreme right-winger but a sick individual who may well have tried to target young people in particular during his attack.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. One thing has become clear with most of these attacks; being emotionally disturbed and being a terrorist are not mutually exclusive. One report I read also said the man said alahu Akbar before the killing began. I don't know if that has been verified.

    The French truck terrorist was supposedly not motivated by religion merely because he drank beer etc and could not be a fundamentalist Muslim. the fact is the nominal, womanizing, alcohol drinking Muslims get sudden revelation and realize they can 'redeem' themselves by becoming jihadists. Since we have found he had a number of helpers. it remains to be seen if this German example will pan out the same way.

    recently some report I read mentioned Germany, despite its intake of refugees did not have terrorist attacks thus demolishing the case that large Muslim populations eads to more attacks - like in France. of course, that ignores the many sex crimes that have resulted from the refugee intake - 2000 Muslim suspects regarding the new Years Eve assaults alone. No it's not 'all Muslims'but certain things have happened as a result of the massive intake and these things are not pleasant.

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    1. James James,

      If you are going to recruit someone to make what amounts to a suicide attack, then it would seem that the best person to look for is the disillusioned young person who feels that they are not is step with the society that they live in, or who feels that there is no hope for them. By giving them something that provides an apparently stable framework to their lives (e.g. a shared religion or political belief), they can feel that they are part of something important that values them as individuals and gives them self-esteem ... and that that can do something about the perceived 'wrongs' that they see around them. This is as true now as it was when the Red Army Faction was operating in Europe in the 1970s.

      All the best,

      Bob

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