Love might overcome hate, but internment feeds it.

Will the mainstream media stop pretending that love, solidarity and business as usual are acceptable responses to terror.

Explosive Belt

There was a preternatural silence in the heart of Manchester when I visited it after the attack. Only those obliged to either to patrol the streets with rifles and riot gear or to man the empty shops had ventured in. ‘Manchester is business as usual’ proclaimed an unnamed suit and tie in a news report. Yet the emptiness I witnessed suggested otherwise for I got something of a taste of the police state when I stepped off the train.

Numerous armed officers with assault rifles and hip holsters stood in groups of twos and threes around the station and its exit points. Something told me the optimistic Brit-pop days were over for Manchester, and the next generation would experience a very different reality from my own time in the city. This, Mr Khan, isn’t how its supposed to be. This isn’t part and parcel of living in a big city. I’ve never seen real assault rifles up close before.

I sat down on a small ledge, catching the attention of a sniffer dog, who trotted over and began to plunge his nose unceremoniously about my rigid body. For an instant, I felt a wave of uncertainty, afraid the dog might make a mistake and bark, and all the rifles would be aimed in my direction. But he passed over me without incident, leaving me free to continue out into the city. Much of the centre remained on lock down with long lines of fluttering police tape and armed sentinels posted along the access points to the Arena itself where 22 people were slaughtered and thousands of others lives destroyed and altered forever.

It’s hard to say why I visited. Morbid curiosity I suppose, I wanted to make it real to myself, even though the feeling that Manchester was ripe for a terrorist attack had been murmured about in bars and staff rooms for years, it was still hard for it to sink in.

I saw more camera crews than shoppers on my way to the town hall, who all the way from Piccadilly to the main hub of activity at Albert Square were stood on street corners talking in various languages to their respective audiences, surrounded by a halo of white vans and hundreds of tripods with their cameras all pointing at the bouquets and balloons which Europe is becoming so familiar with.

Like the assault rifles and deserted streets, I’ve never seen these floral tributes in real life, and when I stepped through the circle of satellite vans, rivers of cables and reporters tables, I was struck by the silence and the smell of scented candles which moved me more than I expected.

Armed guards and smell of mourning, is this now business as usual?

Among the flowers, there was a handmade cardboard slogan which was attracting some attention: ‘Love overcomes Hate’.

Love and hate indeed! I’m as tired of those two words as I am of solidarity. The disparity between the brutality of mass murder and the abstract nouns with which we respond strike me as increasingly childish and censorious of reality. ‘Love overcomes hate’ is a demand not to think any deeper about terrorism. At this point in the well-worn aftermath of meaningless platitudes, we might as well just throw sweets to the gathered crowds and all do the Hokey Cokey if this is going to the be the seriousness of our response into why this happened and the true motives behind it.

As I was scowling at the pointless sentiment, a hand tapped me on the shoulder: “Excuse me lady, are you a local resident?” I turned round to see a chiselled young man with a microphone, accompanied by a cameraman.

“Could you do a quick interview with us?”

I agreed and hastily tried to straighten my hair as the cameraman hoisted up his camera and the presenter readied the microphone.

“Do you believe that love can really overcome hate?”

I was rather taken aback by the question, and suddenly faced with the horror of giving my true opinion and to be judged by it, the camera might as well have been a shotgun aimed at me.

“I er…I’d like to think so, but not really,” I said, instantly dismayed at my own cowardice.

I wondered then, if the question was asked because the audience peering at me from the camera lens was as tired at the sanitised response to terror as I was, and the presenter was honing in that.

I elaborated on my answer:

“When I was the age of some of these victims, a bomb went off here, planted by the IRA, and some of my friends were caught in the attack. I’ve seen a lot of media comparisons, but I the two events are not similar. There was a warning given before the last bomb, and the people were able to evacuate, meaning it was not human beings who were the target but the buildings themselves. But with Islamic terrorism, the bombs are not to destroy buildings but human life – it was young girls themselves who were targeted, not bricks and mortar. It affects people deeply. Everybody at that concert, or who had tickets to see the next one, or anybody in the world who was a fan of Ariana Grande or pop music or concert goers in general, are affected, and it’s this impact that isn’t spoken about. After the IRA bomb, even now, when I enter the Arndale , I will think about the explosion, it is always in the back of my mind, I will think to myself ‘It could have been me, I could have been in that attack’ well this new generation will be thinking along those lines, millions of them. And they will think that for the rest of their lives. What do we say to them?”

“Yes, what to say indeed,” said the reporter. He thanked me for my time and left me to read some of the other tributes, but the day was surreal enough, and I felt it time to head home.

Is this bombing a turning point? Will the mainstream media finally open the debate on Islamic inspired terrorism, and stop pretending that love, solidarity and business as usual are acceptable responses to terror.


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4 Comments on Love might overcome hate, but internment feeds it.

  1. Internment without trial would require the suspension of habeus corpus. It would be another sign of the police state that the assault rifles reminded you of. Not to mention troops on the streets of the capital. Internment was also a failure in Northern Ireland.

    A Jamaican acquaintance tells me that back home a national day of mourning would be called after loss of life such as this. To do that requires a serious people. All that happens here is that Manchester has her Bishop suggest, after saying that no one should be stigmatised or isolated, that trolls should be isolated (whether by being sent to Coventry or an internment camp isn’t clear). He hasn’t seemed to have realised that his office in the city is now irrelevant.

    A former friend of the doped-up idiot boy who committed this atrocity said in a televised interview that he, the mass murderer, said that pop music should not be listened to as it was the work of the devil.

    This statement by the former friend suggests the motive for targeting a group of young people at a pop concert.

    Such a motive is blind to the innocence expressed in the earlier Facebook post by a soon-to-be-murdered mother showing a photo of her daughter and a friend dressed to attend the concert, captioned ‘two excited girlies looking forward to the concert’.

    The trite message that love overcomes hate is not the expression of a serious people. Such a people would have turned to other things in a time of grief. Love is as strong as death; its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. (Song of Songs 8:6).

  2. Not the Falklands but Libya. Every month, of those detained suspected of planning violence, take the most virulent, load them into a Hercules and with a fighter escort and a small number of troops fly them to one of many of the remote deserted air strips in the country, offload the detainees, notify the authorities – such as there are , of their whereabouts and leave them there. Nobody could complain we were sending them to other than their dream of a Islamic state.

  3. Ms. Dearnley,
    A nice article, thank you. From the title I expected you to mention internment without trial as a suitable response to these many outrages, but apparently you are not on board with that yet.
    It has to come. There have been far too many attacks, that have have met no response, for this not to continue. Clearly the British political elite have their collective panties in a huge twist, they know they have to respond effectively as it is blindingly obvious that the attacks are escalating.
    Is there any politician in Britain who has the guts to go after these bastards and stop them? They would be stopped if they were in permanent solitary in a prison institution in a remote area, West Falkland springs to mind as a suitable location.
    The problem is that such a roundup would immediately provoke riots and insurrection from the muslim community in every city in Britain, particularly in London. Those would have to be put down, and ruthlessly, muslims have to understand that they are obliged to live by British norms, or leave.
    As Enoch said “there will be blood in the streets”.
    How likely is this?
    And if it doesn’t happen what is the end result?