Coldplay came on and I turned off. I’d had enough.
It’s only two weeks since the suicide bombing in the Manchester Arena left 22 dead (ten people under 20; one an eight-year-old girl) many not yet buried, 116 people injured, over half still in hospital, and 23 of them, including five children, still in critical care.
I cannot be the only person to have found the idea of an Ariana ‘solidarity concert’ unseemly and tasteless.
It may have raised millions of pounds for the victims, but it fostered mass delusion.
Last night’s shindig realised my worst fears. Marking this massacre with a concert wasn’t just a confusion of categories but an inversion of the truth. A matter for solemn public mourning was being turned into a happy clappy celebration – an excuse for a faux ‘we are one’ emoting revel. Celebrations are for victories – like VE day – and for real heroes, not for defeats or victims of brutality, which is what the Manchester jihadi killings were. If it was a victory for anyone, it was for them, the Islamists; a triumph of their evil.
The only ‘heroes’ deserving of celebration were the emergency services and medical staff who limited the loss of life and mitigated injury by their swift action, courage and expertise. But the concert was not for them. No. The BBC succinctly and uncritically told us it was designed ‘to give hope and happiness’. I wondered how that made the parents of the dead children feel?
Don’t they deserve we face reality, rather than encourage a pipe dream? Isn’t that what got people through the Second World War? Silent non emotional stoicism and defiance. Not a competition of required platitudes, as plastered over the BBC news yesterday and today.
The 50,000 Arena audience really seemed to believe the exhortations of their latter day pop star ‘all saints’, selling their virtue and preaching faux morality, will defeat terror. If lulling people into a false sense of ‘feel good’ is our counter-terrorist strategy, it’s working.
‘Nice’ was all that mattered, according to that political and philosophical oracle Katie Perry: “It’s not easy to always choose love, is it? Especially in moments like these. It can be the most difficult thing to do. But love conquers fear and love conquers hate. And that love that you choose will give you strength.”
“So just touch the next person”, she or another star shrilled excitedly to the hysterical crowd, “tell them I love you!” Hug each other! What a cop out. How inane can you get? But that’s what the enthusiastic, compliant concert-goers did, in one mass emote. It was one special event – but not in the way the BBC thinks.
Even the police on duty joined in, in a demonstration that they are not institutionally nasty, to the BBC reporter’s obvious approval. So much better to love and be loved than to maintain vigilance! A hug, you’d think the police would know, does not get you a long way when someone is slitting your throat.
But then there was Justin Bieber and the power of his platitudinous illogic to contend with too. How could they possibly defy his injunction that, “A better way than fight evil with evil (and how pray, would his saintliness define that I wonder? Killing the murdering terrorist?) is fight evil with good, don’t you agree?” Of course, they did.
Wasn’t the last time I heard mention of Bieber his arrest in Miami for reckless driving, under the influence with an over six-month expired licence? Hadn’t he been consuming alcohol, smoking marijuana, and taking prescription drugs too? Here was this epitome of virtue instructing us how to deal with terror.
Sure, Justin’s brand of ‘defiance’ (everyone ‘stay normal’) will make those cruel terrorists see the error of their ways. And Ariana’s mother’s maxim, not to be afraid, will no doubt keep us safe in our beds too – in cloud cuckoo land.
For what the terrorists want, the theory goes, is to disrupt our ‘democracy’ and values (by which Mark Easton of the BBC means ‘diversity n’ tolerance’). So provided we pretend life is as safe as ever and blindly carry on in face of random throat-slitting on our streets, we will prove them wrong. Words and ‘one love’ will conquer all.
Twelve years ago it would not have crossed our minds that today we’d have jihadists murdering at random on our streets and three UK terrorist attacks in not much more than a month. Even less that we’d be expected to live with terrorism comforted with the soma of pop star platitudes, ‘we must not give in’ mantras, and coordinated candle-lit grief management. It would have been inconceivable. Yet here we are.
Our liberality and inanity is taken full advantage of by terrorists. They despise us and have one aim only – to kill and maim as many as possible, egged on by their ruthless controllers. Yet sentimentality and soppiness still reigns. Have we learnt nothing since the British soldiers rode to their death at Balaclava in 1854?
Ariana would have done better to read her concert crowd the poem of their demise.
I wonder if she has even heard of Tennyson’s masterpiece, The Charge of the Light Brigade?
I doubt it.