Let’s say you’re a young girl and you just got out of a great concert put on by one of your favorite pop stars who sings about men and sex, and who dresses incredibly provocatively, but, having grown up in a culture inundated with oversexualized idols and under-utilized moral restraint, the ludicrousness of the pop star’s stage performance flew, as usual, right over your head. You’re too young for that sort of thing. For now, at least, the catchy lyrics and simple melodies are enough to light up your smile, and you and a couple of your friends are having a great time talking about the concert when an explosion goes off about twenty feet away—seven metres or so?—and, as you come back to consciousness, you find yourself covered in nails and pieces of human beings and part of your friend’s scalp somehow ended up in your mouth. She’s still alive, and even though you don’t know this, both of you lack serious life-threatening injuries, and you’ll both make full recoveries. But just a few metres away, you can see a few that weren’t so lucky. And you don’t know where your other friend is. And you can’t feel part of your leg.
Switch gears. You just heard about this on the news. Unconfirmed reports. Live feeds from cell phone cameras. Terrible shame! Terrible! #StandWithManchester. Thoughts and prayers to the families of the viciously and senselessly murdered children. Don’t assume it’s Islam, like all those terrible right-wingers are doing right this very second. Better change your digital avatars. This is so awful. How could someone just murder children like that?
Switch gears. One of your friends is missing. You found out because the news networks at the hospital are playing the same string of programming nonstop. Your legs hurt a lot more before the morphine kicked in, now you just feel drowsy. Doctor says you’ll be alright, but you’ll have trouble walking for a while. You’ll need a cane, he isn’t sure for how long. Definitely going to miss the track team tryouts that were next week. Your mom is still weeping, and you see a look burned into your father’s face that has never been there before. You tell him everything will be fine and that this just gives you a chance to study harder and that athletics were really just a hobby anyway. He fixes you with a thousand-yard stare and says nothing.
Switch gears. They just announced who the prime suspect is. Salman Abedi. #NotAllMuslims! Was he Muslim? “I bet those fascist UKIP scum are so happy about this,” you seethe as you edit your profile pictures. You’re about to save your changes when it occurs to you that the Union Jack probably once flew over the countries that these poor immigrants are coming from, and that old English imperialism is probably the reason why they’re so mad. That really makes you think, so you edit into the watermarked background a crescent moon and star. #PrayForManchester. Pretty clever, you think. How could someone just murder children like that? UKIP has to be stopped. Don’t those idiots see that it’s our fault they’re bombing our kids—or, well, their kids, you correct yourself, since you aren’t going to have any.
It turns out that the suspect died in the bombing. It turns out that he had immediate family who knew about the attack beforehand. It turns out that he was known to authorities. It turns out that he had direct ties to radical Islamic terrorist organizations. It turns out his brother did, too. It turns out his brother was planning an attack of his own prior to his arrest after the Manchester bombing.
It turns out that the media won’t even call this a suicide bombing. “The suspect died in the bombing.” Died of what? A heart attack? Did he have a stroke? We know there was a bomb or something, but surely he wouldn’t have blown himself up on English soil! That’s something for Israel and Iraq and those other war-ravaged sand countries to deal with, not England. Such unsightly behavior is unbefitting of an Englishman. No one would do such a thing! How could someone just murder children like that?
We deserve it, the liberal agenda decrees. We’re bombing them every day. Surely, we deserve a few bombs, ourselves. If we just stop bombing them, they’ll stop bombing us. That’s fair. Because we’re dealing with the type of reasonable people who walk themselves into crowds of teenage girls and blow themselves up. We should let more of these reasonable people into our communities and theaters and nightclubs. Oh, so you’re a moderate Muslim who just wants to have his faith left alone while you make an honest living to support yourself and your family? Come on right in! Oh, so you’re a radical extremist who wants to rape our children and blow up scantily-clad teenagers? What’s the difference?
#NotAllMuslims are terrorists! Does that mean we shouldn’t let all Muslims in? Should we maybe intensify screening and policing efforts in neighborhoods where we know Muslim extremism metastasizes? Of course not! That would mean that some Muslims are terrorists! As England insists, we must keep on as if nothing happened. Just pretend like it’s normal to see bloodied photographs of dismembered kids in the news feed once a month. For now. Keep this up, and it won’t be once a month. It’ll become once a week. And then once a day. And then so frequently that it ceases to be news anymore, like America’s inner city crime problem. I know your kid just got blown up, but the suspect killed himself, too. Now try to pretend like that counts as justice. What are we going to do differently in order to avoid this from happening in the future? Nothing. Carry on as usual, and wait for the next bang.
France has rolled over and taken it all. So has Germany, and Sweden, and basically the rest of the European Union. Europe died somewhere between the trenches of Ypres, the fires of Dresden, and the beaches of Normandy. England, however, may still have a chance, at least inasmuch as America does. There’s still some fight left in them. You wouldn’t know it from the news reports, though.