Some days in our lives we will always remember. Sometimes for happy or sad personal reasons, other days for stunned shock at a world event. We can all remember when and where we first heard the news about the Dunblane killings, Princess Diana’s untimely death, the events of 9/11, Andres Beiviks massacre and the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.
I can certainly remember that night, watching in shock as the news unfolded. Lots of conflicting reports and images from social media, so much that didn’t make sense, it seemed unreal. Could this really be happening?
Social media was alight with the news. A friend contacted me to say her son was there at the scene and he had the impression that it couldn’t be real, that it was some kind of drama playing out in front of him. Perhaps that was indicative of the level of shock and horror that we all felt, as a nation, at what was happening on our streets. Did any of us believe that there would ever be anyone beheaded on our streets, especially a young soldier, right outside his barracks.
That shock and disbelief that accompanies it seemed to go on for days, even as more information was gathered and we learned the true horrors of what happened. The entire population of the country was stunned.
None more so – of course – than Lee Rigby’s family. We all empathized so much with his young widow and her small son and with his mother. We all wondered how we would cope with the news of our own loved ones having such an horrific end, taking in all the details and shedding tears with each of them.
We all empathized with his comrades at the barracks, so close yet so far away, and the feelings of helplessness of the police and eyewitnesses who had to endure the scene. We thought about the courage of the woman who tried to help and the fear of those people who the murderers approached with their blood stained hands – images that will remain with us for life – and how very much worse for his loved ones.
All of us mourn his loss. All of us feel the impact of the manner of his death – so why is it
that Britain First think that they have the monopoly on this depth of feeling? Why is it that they will NOT let Lee Rigby rest in peace and allow his family to mourn him away from the spectre of extremism?
The answer is really quite simple. They are using him as currency. In spite of his mother’s plea’s for them to keep her son out of their ‘patriotism’, in spite of the Electoral Commission having to issue an apology for allowing his name to be used on Britain First’s voting slips; in spite of all the power that Lyn Rigby could muster, they continue to use him because he is valuable to them.
His value to them lies in gaining likes on their Facebook page. They ask people to click ‘like if you remember’ – which is as meaningful as saying ‘like if the sun rose this morning’, but people WILL click like, because they are nice people, because they DO remember and because we were ALL affected by his death.
Britain First create ‘likes’ for posts about bringing back the death penalty for Lee Rigby’s killers and they allow their supporters full rein on those posts to spout the kind of venom that Lyn Rigby says he would have disapproved of; to call for an eye for an eye; to shout ‘behead them’’ to invent the most excruciating tortures; all of which make them as bad, if not worse than his killers, at least in spirit and attitude.
The thing about those kind of comments, which Britain First admins allow, even encourage, to be posted is that they attempt to give the impression that the commenters are more angry, more outraged, more vengeful than anyone else on these islands of ours. They appear to think that the more grotesque the punishment they can devise means that their anger and sorrow has more gravitas than the rest of us, than those of us who feel empathy for him and his family, than those of us who wish to let him rest in peace, and allow his family to grieve and mourn as they feel.
At Exposing Britain First we have not reacted to all the posts about Lee Rigby. It is a very fine line that we walk. We respect him and his family and their right to their grief and we would never wish to intrude on that. At the same time, we feel the frustration of not being able to stop the inexorable spread of his name as a currency and a trophy for the far right to fight over. How much more must his family feel that.
As another anniversary looms, and the far right try to mobilize in an attempt to highjack a tragic and horrific murder, Exposing Britain First would like to say to Britain First that this is not a competition. We will not compete with you to be the most aggrieved, the most outraged, more angry and vengeful. The perpetrators have been met with British justice and the most aggrieved are Lee Rigby’s family and we extend our every sympathy to them.