Is It Time to Get Angry?

Spiked Online argues that the Manchester attack marks the right moment to "get angry."
After the terror, the platitudes. And the hashtags. And the candlelit vigils. And they always have the same message: ‘Be unified. Feel love. Don’t give in to hate.’ The banalities roll off the national tongue. Vapidity abounds. A shallow fetishisation of ‘togetherness’ takes the place of any articulation of what we should be together for – and against. And so it has been after the barbarism in Manchester. In response to the deaths of more than 20 people at an Ariana Grande gig, in response to the massacre of children enjoying pop music, people effectively say: ‘All you need is love.’ The disparity between these horrors and our response to them, between what happened and what we say, is vast. This has to change.
Compare and contrast the response to the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal. Those also targeted young British girls; they were permitted to go on for a very long time, even though the authorities were repeatedly informed about them. Here, too, the perpetrator of this suicide bombing was well known to police authorities, as seems to be usually the case. Nothing was done.

Will this get a bigger response because, this time, the young girls were killed instead of repeatedly raped? Will it get a bigger response because, this time, the girls were the daughters of richer families who could afford expensive concert tickets, and not the daughters of the working class?

Or is it the case, instead, that nothing will change? The institutional inertia in Western governments is very great. We can't build a bridge anymore because of all the regulations that exist to govern the building of bridges. We know -- it seems we always know -- who is likely to conduct a mass murder like this, but we can't do anything to stop it. We aren't allowed. We won't allow ourselves.

I don't know that getting angry will fix that. What needs to change, whether to repair our infrastructure or to secure our nations, is to peel off whole layers of institutional regulation and control. These are simple problems in need of simple solutions.


jaed said...

Anger is energy. Energy is required to overcome the institutional and cultural friction that we see in bureaucratic and therapeutic phrases like "was known to the authorities" and "homegrown terrorism" and "Islamaphobic backlash is feared" and "not linked to terrorism" and "that's not who we are" and "we may never know the motive". Anger isn't the only possible source of that energy, but it is a source.

David Foster said...

Two related posts...

About the tolerance for Islamic terrorism and intimidation: The Perfect Enemy

About the increasing impossibility of getting things done: Like Swimming in Glue

Grim said...

Re: your first piece: In 1999, as I recall, attitudes about Islam were roughly as you'd have predicted in 1999. Muslims, if they appeared in films or movies, were reliably terrorists. It's only been since 9/11 that they've become a protected class. Likely that speaks to your point; but how different it might have been if Al Gore had been president on 9/11.

Your point about Hoover Dam is exactly what I'm thinking of here. Sometime between 1935 and now we went from being able to throw up a giant dam in less than a decade, and not being able to do it for any price in any period of time. An earlier, poorer, less technologically capable America built all these roads and bridges, ports and dams. Somehow we can't do it anymore. From here, it looks like the state is the issue.

Grim said...

I'm thinking of movies like True Lies (1994), which were occasionally criticized for portraying Muslims as crazed terrorists -- but it was a commonplace, and notwithstanding such criticism, that movie went on to be nominated for an Oscar.

Not that we'd be well-served by a return to stereotypical treatments of Muslims. Rather, it's interesting to see that 9/11 really did harden our views of Islam -- but, in terms of our government's approach, in exactly the opposite way from what you'd have expected in 1999. We went from ordinarily (and unfairly) thinking of Islam in that light, to flatly refusing to countenance anyone expressing a thought about Islam in that light. And the reason was the clearest possible demonstration of that aspect of Islam as practiced today.

Elise said...

It's interesting to contrast the “coexist” response to the Manchester attack with the response to the killing of the American soldier, Richard Collins III, at the University of Maryland.

The Nation article Grim links to about Mr. Collins claims that "one would have to be willingly obtuse to not see a direct line from having open white supremacists in the Oval Office to the emboldening of the perpetrators." It goes on to quote one student's claim that the college administration's "failure to address racism, white supremacists, hate speech and violence" emboldened the murderer. The article further warns against "[p]retending that the murder of Richard Collins III is somehow an isolated incident" because such pretense "will only make the situation worse." It closes by urging "a mobilization against all forms of white supremacist hate."

In other words, The Nation is urging in the case of Mr. Collins’ murder precisely what Spiked Online would presumably like to see urged in response to the Manchester attack. It would be quite easy to re-write The Nation's article as a response to the Manchester attack - and equally easy to re-write the ‘Be unified. Feel love. Don’t give in to hate’ (and “not all Muslims” and avoid backlash) articles about Manchester as responses to the killing of Mr. Collins.

douglas said...

Excellent point, Elise.

Simplicity, Grim? The government specializes in killing all notion of simplicity dead.

"From here, it looks like the state is the issue."
Indeed it is. I do my professional work in the City of Los Angeles mostly, and as such, work under the City's building code. One time while waiting there for my number to be called, I noticed a sign that casually noted that in the last ten years, the building code had doubled in size. DOUBLED. When I started doing architecture and pulling permits, you could get a simple house addition and remodel permitted with maybe ten sheets of drawings tops (architectural, structural, the whole shebang). Now you have ten sheets just of required notes, required verifications of products used, required 'green' notes and calculations... Just last week I was looking at the plans for a six unit apartment building built in 1960. Ten sheets, total.

Of course, as a byproduct of this, no one knows the code anymore, not even the plan checkers that work with it day in and day out. They can't- it's not possible. It's grown too complex to understand all the possible variables and permutations, and it's just more than a normal person can wrap their head around. The best you can do is know where to (most likely) look things up in the code, or who to ask about a particular issue. It's completely ridiculous.