When the facts change we must change our minds

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I have already written about my shock at the Westminster attack last week. Nothing changes those feelings. It is clear that I am not alone in feeling them, nor in sensing something that I value has been violated.

But today we learn that the police have no idea why the perpetrator undertook his actions. All we know is that a man aged 52 who has a history of convictions for violence undertook a violent act for reasons of which no one is aware.

This demands that for now at least we change the perspective through which we view this event. The police, I think appropriately, initially assumed this was a terror attack. Of course, that might still be true. But we don't know. All we actually know is a man troubled enough to once attack a man with a Stanley knife in a country pub attacked people with a car and a policeman with a knife because (and I am guessing) he again assumed he had a grievance that could only be avenged with an act of violence.

Nothing assuages his guilt for what he did.

Nothing says we should not have reacted with horror.

Nothing changes my mind about the action of the policeman who shot him: regrettable as all violent loss of life is this was a defensive act.

But we are not now, at least whilst this is the information we have, entitled to assume that this was an act of Islamic motivated terror.

So what that he was a Muslim?

So what that he had converted?

So what that he did not follow the edicts of the faith he professed to follow?

All we know is that he was a man who committed a terrible act because he could not, for whatever reason, contain his anger.

Let's by all means consider how such people are helped.

Let's discuss access to support, counselling and other services for those who find coping hard to the limit of impossibility, because we know there are many of them.

But let's not, unless the evidence changes, talk of terrorism. Because there are very few terrorists. And right now the police are saying there is no evidence he was one. Their initial assumption was valid. Their inquiry was appropriate. But it has not yielded evidence to support their hypothesis. We are required to change our minds.

Let's do so.

Let's still mourn the dead and pray in whatever way you do for the injured and those that love them.

But let's, in the absence of a terrorist explanation, ask what drives a 52 year old man to such behaviour because if it wasn't terrorism it begs even bigger questions of our society in which, I stress, he's always reported to have lived.