To me the aftermath of Lee Rigby’s death has been as damaging as his murder was. This soldier was doing his best for everyone in his life, for his fellow soldiers and for the country but we can never leave it at that. Every time something like this happens we seem to have a need to know every detail of the person’s life both good and bad and then come to a voyeuristic opinion on someone based on the way the media choose to portray them.
The “estranged wife”, the step-father, his sainted mother and new fiancée have set chatrooms, newspaper comments boards and social media alight with theories and opinions. I am going to be honest enough to say I don’t care about his life beyond the fact that a soldier was killed on our streets where he should have been safe by two people intent on doing the damage they did. What his political views were, his personal life, the last thing he tweeted etc is of no consequence to any of us apart from his family and they should be left to try to pull themselves together again after a shocking and needless attack on a young man devoted to his country.
Then on the other side is the blame game about who knew about these “terrorists” and who should have done something to stop them getting to the point where they randomly select a member of the armed services to kill to make a political point. How many people do you think are on watched lists across this country? How many do you think regularly visit from other countries? The truth is if we, the public, knew those figures and the facts that those at the top of security for the country knew some of us would never leave the house. It is an impossibility to know the exact movements of every potential threat walking our streets.
These two were on lists and were known to authorities and maybe there is some scope for an investigation to see if anything could have been done in these cases – but that is not a conversation for a public forum. We need newspapers, the mass media and the chattering classes to step back from this and leave it to the experts. By raking up stories on the could, would and should of this case will not bring Lee back, make the family feel any better or stop those two from doing what they did. We need to realise that the problem is much bigger and won’t be solved by opinion columns, Facebook hate groups and bad journalism.
The family welcomed the public support but have asked to be left to grieve in private – that should include pieces about Lee’s personal life. We can show our respect as a nation by being supportive to our soldiers, working more closely with Muslim groups and allowing those with the training and intelligence to do their jobs without the nation looking over their shoulders checking on everything they are doing.
Thoughts are with the Family and Friends of Lee Rigby.