Opinion Column

The Duel

Manchester, united

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

The carpet of floral tributes to the victims and injured of the Manchester Arena bombing covers the ground in St Ann's Square on May 25, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The carpet of floral tributes to the victims and injured of the Manchester Arena bombing covers the ground in St Ann's Square on May 25, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Topics

This week's question: Following the Manchester bombing, is Katy Perry right, should we all just "unite" and "co-exist"?

With kids still missing after last week’s bombing in Manchester, one conservative Canadian commentator blamed the victims: “Wth (What the hell) were kids doing at an Ariana Grande concert?”

She called the pop star, “Pornographic. Obscene. Raunchy. Smutty. Salacious.”

Meanwhile, Katy Perry called for unity.

“No barriers, no borders, we all just need to co-exist,” the singer said.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

But conservatives love barriers and borders, so naturally they reacted to Perry with a Roar of indignation.

This violent attack targeted children. Why are conservatives so worked up about pop idols? Seems like misplaced outrage to me.

The right’s response to terrorism is always the same: Jack up state surveillance, weaponize our fear and try to aim it at immigration. Sadly, sometimes it works. Hate crimes have doubled since the attack. The Tories will try to use this fear to bolster their flagging popularity as the June 8 U.K. general election nears.

From Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May, years of government cuts have made Britain a meaner society, its social fabric frayed plenty of holes for disaffected young men to fall through. Over the past five years, authorities ignored repeated warnings from the Manchester Muslim community about a particularly alienated man: the perpetrator.

Manchester is no stranger to terrorism. Guy Fawkes supposedly hatched the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British parliament there. In 1996, the Provisional IRA bombed part of the city centre. Manchester rebuilt. I walked through the area a couple years back. You’d never know it was once rubble.

Manchester is the birthplace of Coronation Street and the suffragette movement; of 19th-century Chartist battles for better wages, housing and factory conditions. Karl Marx documented the condition of the working class there. Manchester’s fighting spirit can light the way in these bleak times.

While conservatives got stroppy about what pop stars were saying or wearing, regular Mancunians put their hearts up. Immediately after the blast, homeless men ran inside the venue to help. Businesses gave out tea and sandwiches. Sikh temples offered food and accommodation. Money was raised. Cabbies gave free rides.

Residents queued up to donate blood, including Ian, a tough-looking bartender, who said: “I don’t care what you believe in or where you’re from. This city is for everyone. They want us to turn on our neighbours and it will never happen.”

We don’t need to listen to pop stars. We can just listen to Ian. Nice one, lad.

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins.