Manchester – we must maintain the ‘greyzone’, because the alternative is unthinkable1
May 24, 2017 by Paul Goldsmith
I won’t be talking about the election campaign this morning. But I will be talking about politics. At times like this, when alleged terrorist atrocities take place, politics becomes an almost ‘pejorative’ term. People are told not to ‘play politics’ with these events. It’s as if politics is always a ‘bad’ thing. Yet it is through our political system, through our democracy, in which we can all participate (and, I pray, are planning to on June 8th) that we can come to an agreement on how we deal with the fact that there are people who want to kill us, to change our lives, to make us scared.
The suicide bomber in Manchester targeted children. That is a fact. My son and daughter like Ariana Grande and we considered going to her concert in London. So it could have been me, or them, who died, easily. This fills me with fear that terror is coming closer to my door. Yet I also know that is exactly what ‘they’ want me to feel. ‘They’ want me to react. ‘They’ want me to change the way I live or fight back somehow. I will do neither.
As I write this on the morning after the blast, we don’t know the identity of the bomber (now named as Salman Abedi, a British former Libyan refugee) the usual suspects are out in force on the internet making assumptions about the culprit’s religion – calling for a ‘final solution’ (Katie Hopkins – later changed to ‘true solution’), making the point that the IRA bombed Manchester many times but nobody died (Paul Watson) and that Manchester is a hotbed of ISIS (Geraldo Rivera).
I must remind you what terrorists want. They want to establish a black and white zone. Where there are only two sides. Believer and non-believer. Terrorist and non-terrorist. Where both sides have no choice but to turn on each other and fight each other to the death. Where one side are scared to leave their homes, go on the train, go to concerts, and eventually decide, like Katie Hopkins, that there has to be a ‘final’ solution.
The last thing that terrorists want is for those they terrorise to insist on maintaining a ‘greyzone’. The last thing that Islamist extremists (if that is who did it) want is for Britain to take in refugees or for British politicians to insist that we be able to live alongside each other. I am reminded of what Iyad El-Baghadadi, an Arab Spring activist, said after the 2015 Paris bombs:
“The Islamist extremist worldview says that we’re separate, different, hate each other and are eternal enemies. Wanna shatter the Islamist extremist worldview? Show them we aren’t separate or different and don’t hate each and can be eternal friends”
I am of the view that if terrorists are being sent to murder children, we are getting to the stage where they know they are losing. When they are resorting to something so desperate and depraved as that, they know that the greyzone is strong, and they can’t pull us apart. The alternative to us maintaining that greyzone is a war in which millions will die.
So, once again, we need to continue with our day, live with each other, go to what we want to go to, vote when we have the chance to, and I hope that our politicians continue to be convinced that they should encourage us to do so.
Or else, they win.
I went to Birmingham today and was both shocked and reassured buy the number of armed police on the streets. I’ve just returned from an enjoyable evening out in that vibrant multi-cultural city. To be terrorised is to let the terrorists win.
I consider Manchester to be my second home. I went to University there and lived close by for 20 years. The city is too resilient to be defeated by one attack, however calculated and cowardly. I hope our politicians will avoid exploiting the situation in the way that the ‘gutter’ press do so. Now is the time for enlightened strong leadership.