By Benjamin Decatur
On March 22, a radical Islamic terrorist from South East England indiscriminately ran over innocent civilians on the Westminster Bridge and then ran towards Parliament wielding a knife, in 82 seconds of unspeakable terror. After the dust settled and bodies laid on the bridge and in the Thames, six had died including the attacker himself. London was in shock. Until that day, the U.K. had largely been immune from terrorist attacks since the 7/7 bombings in 2005.
Then exactly two months later, terror struck an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England leaving 22 people dead and scores injured. British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the U.K. threat level to the highest level and deployed troops across the country. Police raided homes throughout England, desperately hoping to find those responsible and thwart any potential future attacks. London seemed to be falling, instead of calling.
And then came last Saturday. In an attack that mirrored the events in March, terrorists again mowed down pedestrians, this time on the London Bridge. Then attackers took to the streets stabbing everyone in sight near the bustling Borough Market, where Londoners normally kick back and enjoy a pint or two. Seven people were killed and 48 injured before police shot dead three suspects.
Saturday’s attack led to a stern response from Tory Prime Minister May, speaking outside 10 Downing Street just days before Thursday’s reelection contest, that was largely applauded. May firmly stated that “enough is enough” and conceded that the U.K. has been far too tolerant of extremism. In addition to announcing four key changes in England’s plan to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, May also called out tech companies and urged them to do more to combat online extremism.
Though the Prime Minister’s response to last Saturday’s terrorist attack largely came without controversy, the same cannot be said about London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s remarks. The Twittersphere erupted after President Trump called out Mayor Khan for his statement following Saturday’s attack. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” President Trump tweeted following the London Bridge attack.
Until Monday, Mayor Khan largely ignored President Trump’s tweets, citing that he was busy dealing with the aftermath of the attacks. “Some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities,” Khan told the BBC on Monday. He also argued that the U.K. should rescind its invitation to host the President.
President Trump’s Twitter spat with the London Mayor following the attack can only be described as bizarre. Many have condemned Trump’s decision to lambast the mayor of an already reeling city. Many have pointed out that President Trump took Mayor Khan’s words out of context, as it seems Khan was arguing that Londoners should not be alarmed about the increased police presence on the streets. Many criticized the President for politicizing a tragedy and using it to bolster his case for a travel ban.
While it is fair to say that President Trump’s Twitter feud was unwise (as is often the case), he was not wrong in criticizing Mayor Khan. No politician should be immune from criticism, even in the wake of attacks. Yet, what was lost in the fray was the main takeaway from the Mayor’s news conference: Khan is in denial.
Standing in what appears to be a tranquil park in South London, Khan, in a news conference following the London Bridge attack stated, “I am reassured that we [London] are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city in the world.” Khan would go on to repeat this claim at the end of his statement.
With three terrorist attacks striking the U.K in a little over two months, this statement is terribly naive. Mayor Khan has difficulty admitting that the U.K. has a problem with Islamic extremism. The fact that Islamic terror cells exist in London and other parts of England is one of the U.K.’s worst kept secrets. Yet, few are willing to talk about it — including the London Mayor himself.
And of course, one cannot forget that this is the same mayor who revealed just last year that terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city.” Although terrorist attacks are, indeed, occurring with increased frequency, we cannot accept this as the new norm.
Mayor Khan is certainly not alone in his inability to come to terms with the existence of radical Islam. Time and time again, we see progressives try to call radical Islamic terrorism anything but that, all in the name of political correctness. According to the left, raising any doubt with regard to Islam is among the worst crimes one can commit. If one dares to question Islam or its adherents whatsoever, they will immediately be branded as islamophobic without a moment’s hesitation.
In reassuring the people of London and asking them to carry on with their lives, Khan is not unwise. However, this harrowing and chronic challenge would be more easily combatted if he, and other leaders, were willing to be honest about the threat we are facing both at home and abroad. Denying a problem will never solve it.