It’s hard to know what to say anymore about things like the Manchester bombing. What more could the security services be doing than they surely are already doing? Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber, was born in Britain, the son of Libyan refugees. We will find out very soon what kind of life he had, and who his associates may have been, but as has been pointed out many times, young Muslims self-radicalize through the Internet. It is entirely possible that he acted on his own.
How do we guard against things like this happening without becoming a police state? Is it even possible?
We must all come together. Hope, not hate. Nothing to do with Islam. Nothing to do with Muslims. Just a rogue individual, possibly in the employ of some mysterious foreign agency. Just terrorism, bad people. Unaligned wickedness. Nothing to do with religion. We must all come together. And show love. And solidarity. Hope not hate.
Je Suis Ariana Grande. Already viciousness is being expressed on social media sites. People jumping to all sorts of conclusions. Horrible, horrible, people – no better than the murderer. Who might just as easily have been a Methodist. Remember Jo Cox? That wasn’t them, was it? There, you see.
I share his scorn for the usual bromides. But Alex Massie, also writing in The Spectator, gets it right too. Excerpt:
In the aftermath of this, nuance is easily lost but no less important than ever. To observe that an act of terrorism was religiously-motivated does not mean responsibility for it is shared by all the perpetrator’s co-religionists. And yet it remains reasonable to ask what motivated the bomber, who inspired him, whose writings or teachings or words gave him the serenity and security of ‘righteousness’ and ask what can be done to counter this. We ask because we need to know and because knowing can aid the process of doing something, however imperfectly, about it.
That might amount to little more than more of the same and it is easy, in the heartbroken pain of the moment, to understand why that must seem a wholly inadequate, even insulting, response to murder on this scale. And yet the alternatives are no better and often worse. An over-reaction, while satisfying a sense of justified outrage, does little to make such events less likely in the future. And any reaction which fails to meet that test – the test of whether it makes these attacks more or less likely – is likely to prove unwise.
The bromides about a community pulling together, about insisting that we have more in common than whatever divides us, that we – that Manchester – will meet horror with a certain dogged fortitude, have become the stuff of cliche. But cliches rest on truths and a hackneyed truth is no less true for being so familiar it risks seeming glib. The official responses to last night’s events, from the Prime Minister down, have said all the right things in all the right, grimly familiar, ways.
If you have nothing helpful to say, it’s probably better to say nothing at all. I’m talking to you, Slate”s Christina Cauterucci:
Like her pop-superstar predecessor Britney Spears, Grande has advanced a renegade, self-reflexive sexuality that’s threatening to the established heteropatriarchal order. If the Manchester bombing was an act of terrorism, its venue indicates that the attack was designed to terrorize young girls who idolize Grande’s image. … These girls are survivors of an orchestrated attack on girls and girlhood, a massive act of gender-based violence.
The arrogant stupidity of wokeness. Those girls weren’t killed by the heteropatriarchy, you dimwit. They were slaughtered by a radical Muslim.
We all struggle for something to say in part because we want to bound the horror by rationality, to re-establish a sense of control. That is an illusion.
UPDATE: This is what ISIS is:
Terrified eyewitnesses who survived the Manchester Arena terror attack have described the horrifying scene last night – with one teenager saying: ‘People’s skin and blood were everywhere’.
Homeless people outside the venue were ‘pulling nails out of children’s faces’ and ‘cradled victims in their arms’ after an improvised explosive device was detonated.
There is nothing to do but to kill them all.
UPDATE.2: Kill ISIS members, of course, just as you would have to kill SS members of Khmer Rouge. My point is that they will never, ever stop. They are not people who use terrorism as a means to achieve a goal. They simply like killing infidels.