It would be easy to blame Saturday's London terror attack on Theresa May. Easy, but unfair, unhelpful and, ultimately, wrong. The fact is: nobody is to blame for the attacks but the attackers. More than that, pretending that we can prevent them altogether is childish and untrue. So, for all our sakes, don't do that. As the kids on the internet like to say: Don't be that guy.
Yes, the Prime Minister was Home Secretary for six years, so her sudden epiphany that we have not done enough to prevent terrorism does look a lot like either an admission of incompetence or a self-administered shot to the foot. And yes, her enthusiastic support for the UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia – the biggest source of support for ISIS and other wahabist extremist groups – is well known. Yes, she is an enthusiast for our bombing of countries like Iraq – a policy that has been the greatest recruitment and propaganda coup Islamist groups ever received (according to the former head of MI5, not just Jeremy Corbyn). And yes, she seems comfortable with entire civilian communities living in terror of our drones overhead, occasionally killing civilians.
But nothing Theresa May could have done – and nothing any future government can do – will make us completely safe from these sorts of attacks. You can tell me that this is lily-livered surrender. You can tell me this is letting the terrorists win. I tell you that it is being a grown-up and living in the real world. People die. Sometimes they die at the hands of murderers. This has always been true.
I grew up in Apartheid South Africa where bombings were carried out against the oppressive regime, and they sometimes killed civilians. My school had educational 3D models of different mines and bombs on the walls. We had drills not just for fire but for armed attacks and bomb scares. I remember going to a Wimpy on a Saturday morning with my parents and being afraid that one of the tables might have a bomb under it. I had seen the news. I knew it could happen.
The Apartheid government was not squeamish about 'fighting terrorism'. People were routinely tortured, assassinated, imprisoned without trial and subject to military law in their neighbourhoods, their very movement controlled and their lives open to infinite scrutiny, based on being parts of 'dangerous' communities. And bombings still happened.
This is why the tweets and speeches on the weekend about how 'political correctness' had allowed it and how the entire Muslim community were to blame for the atrocity were more than just annoying. Yes, the fact you still have to explain to some people that Islamist extremists no more represent all Muslims than The LRA or the KKK represent all Christians is still mind-blowing. But what was more appalling was the widespread and automatic scapegoating of perceived 'softness' on extremism and the profoundly stupid belief that there is some magic bullet politicians are just unwilling to use to 'stop all this nonsense' (extending even into the territory of congratulating and agreeing with Donald Trump, God help us).
Lest we forget, the largest such attack on British soil was committed by people who were born here, not people who snuck in pretending to be refugees from conflicts we helped create. The most recent one was committed using a van and knives. So, when I hear people muttering about how 'Enough is enough' and how somebody should do something, I just want to ask: Do what, exactly? Would you like to ban an entire religion? An entire set of ethnic groups? Perhaps you would like them to wear coloured triangles on their clothes and be put into camps for our safety? No reasonable person would allow it. No Christian who knows racism is a sin and an affront to the living God should countenance it. And practically, No matter how many extra powers you give the police (and even if we were to stop cutting their ranks), you're never going to ban cutlery and cars.
This is not a war you can win with nuclear weapons. Nor with spies who can't read minds. I'm not sure it's a war you can win at all, as long as the ideology and the anger behind the acts of terror exist. Theresa May can't win it with giving herself and her administration ever more insidious power. Jeremy Corbyn can't win it with diplomacy. No government will win it by controlling the internet or further limiting free speech. We've tried all that. This side of the Second Coming, there will always be angry, unreasonable, evil or desperate people who think civilians are legitimate lives to sacrifice in achieving their ends, and who think entire groups of people should be despised and suspected. Christians (and all people of good will) must make sure that those who claim to act in our name do not use terror as a justification for doing the same.
Pretending attacks like these are the result of anything other than the attackers' depraved view of humanity is both stupid and wrong. Blaming 'political correctness', 'weakness', cultural impurity, allowing the wrong religion to flourish or multiculturalism is more than wrong. It's ironic. These things are exactly what the terrorists hate, too. Don't side with them.
Don't be that guy.
Jonathan Langley is a freelance writer and works for a Christian mission and development agency.