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Laura Perrins: Our clichéd, spineless response to Manchester is the terrorists’ biggest victory


I don’t think I can take any more of this. The media and establishment reaction to the barbaric attack on men, women and children in Manchester on Monday night has been as dire as it has been predictable.

The worst bit was the poem. I had to turn off Today when that came on: talk about the tyranny of clichés. The very worst cliché is beyond doubt that any suggested solution must be rejected because ‘that would be a victory for the terrorists.’

The coverage has generated a veritable cottage industry in criminology. So many columnists and bloggers have turned criminologist. They all seem to know what the monster Salman Abedi intended.

‘He sought to divide us; he sought to destroy our democracy, he wants us to hate each other.’

Listen, sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. What Abedi wanted when he prepared and detonated his suicide bomb with nails and shrapnel in a crowded arena as people left a concert was to kill as many adults and children as possible, maim as many adults and children as possible, and destroy as many lives as possible.

He wanted to destroy the lives of the injured and bereaved left behind. That is it. It’s that simple. And in that he succeeded. You may not like it, but it’s true.

So don’t tell me Theresa ‘I live in a 24/7 armed protection bubble’ May that the terrorists will never win, because on Monday night they did win. If the authorities are left with only using DNA to identify some of the victims of this atrocity, I’d say that was a victory? Wouldn’t you?

Alice Thomson in The Times tells us ‘despite the terrible scenes in Manchester the confidence of young people and children should make us feel optimistic about the future.’ Well bully for you Alice, I hope you are right, I really do. But I doubt young people being nice to each other on social media and ‘coping with massive social and cultural change’ is going to protect the next child from the terrorist bomb. But perhaps I am being too pessimistic. In feeling this emotion, as well despair, no doubt I am ‘letting the terrorists win.’

The truth is the cliché that the terrorist wants to destroy our democracy and divide us is being used to shut down any debate over actual solutions. Iain Dale replies to Allison Pearson’s suggestion of internment as – you play into the hands of the terrorists.

Now I’m not a big supporter of internment but the idea that detaining without charge known terrorist suspects to prevent them from killing us ‘would play into their hands’ is just laughable. No, while they are in detention and not killing us we win. When they are out killing us, they win.

We are also told ‘the terrorists and terrorist groups that plot and carry out such attacks are nasty, malignant little cells within the body of British society. But they are hardly threatening to the whole: indeed, they are barely even cancerous. Just unsightly little polyps which irritate and disfigure the skin.’ Got that?

You see you are more likely to die of appendicitis or other diseases than being blown to smithereens by a terrorist, so just chillax.

Yes but the enemy within is not going around and intentionally making us sick with appendicitis, is it? And perhaps, just perhaps, the terrorists fail so often because we devote millions if not billions of pounds in the effort to prevent them from blowing us all up? So it really is a stupid comparison – the whole death by disease versus death by nail bomb trick.

If you even suggest, suggest, that the Muslim community needs to speak up more about the minority of terrorists in their midst, then you are sowing divisions and ‘letting the terrorists win.’ What facile nonsense.

Listen up people and listen good. Perhaps it takes an Irish person to say it: “Remember we only have to be lucky once – you will have to be lucky always.” Remember that? Well that was the IRA explaining the theory of terrorism the day after they tried to blow Thatcher up. They were evil monsters too, but they were right about Republican terrorism then and I am right about Islamic terrorism now.

So in sum, debating why these terrorists are being radicalised in the Muslim community is not a victory for the terrorist; it is seeking to prevent terrorism.

Debating whether strengthening anti-terror legislation or even considering very limited internment is not an attack on our democracy; it is a debate as to how to save our democracy.

Thinking, just thinking, that this is all rather frightening and more frightening than dying of cancer is not a victory for terrorists. It is a reasonable reaction.

So don’t patronise me with your ‘they will never break us’ nonsense. Tell that to the families who have lost their daughters, mothers, wives, sons and brothers. Tell that to the pop fans, pop fans, who will have life-changing injuries because they had the temerity to attend a music concert in Manchester.

I sure as hell don’t have all the answers, but I can spot a terrorist victory when I see it. It is among the bodies of the dead and injured in the Manchester Arena.

P.S. I notice the Mancunian terrorist was born to Libyan parents who were granted refuge Britain. That travel ban is not looking so crazy right now, is it?

(Image: Maxwell Hamilton)

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