I see we are moving through the five stages of post-tragedy empty gesture public mourning routine very swiftly. It goes something like this. First there is the the news of the tragedy. Second is the reaction, summed up with the narrative “it is all our fault.” Stage three is where we are told that we should worry about the potential victims of Islamaphobia as opposed to the actual victims of Islamic terrorism.
The Times duly obliged on Tuesday telling us in a two-page spread: “Muslims suffer pain and prejudice of a more hostile Britain.” Got that – it is all your fault!!
Stage four is full candle-lit vigil/light up building in appropriate colours (that should do it!) and Twitter hashtag campaigns. Stage five is the political love in, this time in the form of a football match between England and France.
I understand some of the victims’ families who were gunned down so brutally and mercilessly may appreciate this and take comfort in the event. But is it fair to dump all of this Dianafication of the public mourning process on to the shoulders of these players? None of us can even begin to understand the devastation these families are experiencing, the desolation and grief that lies ahead for them. A football match is just not going to cut it.
In addition, no parent should be bringing their young child to this match, not because of any danger, but to see no doubt hundreds of police officers armed to their teeth with semi-automatic weapons.
“Why does that policeman have a gun that can kill about 100 people in 1 minute mummy…..?” In my humble opinion, it is totally inappropriate to be exposing under 10s to this kind of weaponry even if their custodians are on our side.
And that brings me to the next phase – closing the door after the horse has bolted.
There were raids in Belgium on Tuesday in the ‘substantial Muslim’ area of Molenbeek by heavily-armed officers, looking I am afraid to say, faintly ridiculous.
Listen, this may be reassuring but terrorists do not target ‘special commandos in balaclavas’ that look they should be in a bad Hollywood SWAT movie. Terrorists target civilians in T-shirts. That is what makes them terrorists – they strike fear into the terrified and defenceless public!
It is all very well and good attempting to track down suspected terrorist mastermind Salah Abdeslam now, but the more important questions are why were these areas of segregation allowed to develop in the first place; why was he able to hide to plain sight; what were the intelligence failings that meant he could cross borders so easily; and, that perhaps this open border free-for-all is not such a good idea after all?
But it is politically convenient to sidestep these questions and just flood the streets with officers dressed for a war zone instead. This will not make us any safer.