Teachers must stop terror attacks fueling extremism
by Adi Bloom (2017)
Image Copyright: Tes Global Ltd
Pupils need to learn that the one ‘evil, twisted, sick’ individual responsible for the Manchester attack is not representative of a whole community, Brendan Cox says
Teachers must prevent the terrorist attack in Manchester from fuelling further hatred and extremism, according to Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox.
Mr Cox, whose wife Jo, MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist last June, said that the events in Manchester this week brought back memories for him.
“The overwhelming thing is just that sense of, you know, I know what those families will be going through,” he told Tes. “And I feel it very viscerally. I woke up yesterday morning and just felt crushed by the scale of it and how horrific it was. So I found yesterday very hard.
“And I think what also worries me is those people who then use it to try to drive their own hatred. This act was entirely driven by hatred, and there’s this sort of weird symbiosis between the far right and Islamist terrorists, in that they basically exploit each other’s hatred to build their own narratives.
“They’re basically driven by the same thing: they have this essential hatred for otherness, whether that is non-believers, in the case of the Islamists, or anybody that’s not white and British, in the case of the far right. It’s just horrific.”
A tiny minority
He said that teachers should emphasise to pupils that society is not full of people actively looking to cause harm.
“The person who did this is representative of himself and nothing else,” he said. “And so I always think it’s important to bring those things into balance. The number of people – whether like the guy that did this, or the person who killed Jo – it’s such a tiny minority.
“I think the big thing that teachers can do is not to suggest that the individual who did this wasn’t evil, twisted, sick, whatever else. But to identify consistently that this is an individual, who is representative of nobody but themselves.”
Monday’s attack on an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena left 22 people dead and many more injured.
Narrative of togetherness
Mr Cox is planning a nationwide social cohesion event – the Great Get-Together – to mark the anniversary of his wife’s death on 16 June. Large numbers of schools have already signed up to take part.
He believes that such coming together to overcome prejudice is possible even in relatively homogenous communities.
“In every community there is difference,” he said. “That might be gender difference, it might be age difference, it might be socio-economic. It might be whether you’re a migrant, whether your family have been here for lots of generations. It might be faith: Christian, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant.
“What’s happening is a narrative of otherness. And every time you break down that narrative of otherness, the narrative of togetherness grows.”