I don't suppose there's anything new to say about the suicide bomb attack in Manchester, England. Nevertheless, it bears repeating a few truths that we've shared in these pages on such occasions in the past.
- There are certain places where it's simply less safe to be than it was in years past. That includes any mass gathering. Even if the gathering itself has good security (as appears to have been the case in Manchester, according to initial reports), there are other places that can be targeted, such as mass transit facilities used by those attending it, or 'choke points' such as entrances and exits. The terrorist(s) don't have to get into the actual venue to cause mass casualties. There is no possible defense that can encompass and make safe every single point of potential danger.
- You have to make a cold, hard, rational assessment of your and your family's priorities. If you know that certain gatherings, such as concerts, are preferred targets for terrorists, and if you live in a large city where there is more likely to be a concentration of potential terrorists, you need to take that knowledge into account when planning whether or not to attend mass entertainment events like the concert in Manchester. It's no good saying that not to attend means that the terrorists have won. Not to attend is one possible response to a clear and present danger. To attend regardless is your right and your privilege. So is living with (or dying from) the potential consequences.
- It's no good relying on the security services to safeguard such venues - or blaming them when something evil happens. They're doubtless doing the best that they can; but their hands are tied by the very political, social, economic, religious and cultural structures that we, the people, have insisted our politicians erect and maintain. We're the ones who demand that certain values be implemented and safeguarded in our society. When those same values open the way for extremists to operate, we have to make a choice. Do we want to maintain those values no matter what? Or are we prepared to give up some of them, or modify them, in order to have greater security? My response will always be to maintain values in the face of threats against them. Others, more reliant (or willing to be more reliant) on government, will argue the alternative. This is a debate that will be ongoing. If we're not careful, it may reshape our society in ways that make Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and 'Animal Farm' seem like light comedy.
Meanwhile, let me point you to some of my earlier articles pertaining to our society's response to, and our personal security in, this sort of environment. I provided a list back in March, when writing about the then-latest terror attack. I recommend it to your attention.
May those killed in the Manchester terror attack rest in peace. May those who mourn them receive what comfort they may. May all of us who reflect on that attack, make wise decisions going forward about how to avoid becoming victims ourselves, and how to prevent such violence from devouring our rights and freedoms in the name of national security.