The barbaric face of terrorism showed itself again Monday, this time in Manchester, England. And once again, it underscored the difficulty of stopping anyone intent on setting off a bomb, especially if they are willing to die in the explosion.
What happened in Manchester—a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing, at last report, 22 people and injuring more than 100 just as a concert was letting out at a packed arena—was nothing short of pure evil.
Aimed not only at a civilian population, the blast targeted a crowd made up of many young people, parents and children. Among the dead who have been identified was an eight year-old girl.
In a split-second, what should have been the conclusion to a joyous outing for those in attendance turned into a nightmare.
It’s a scenario that has happened too often in recent years, in way too many spots around the world. What makes it shocking to many in the West is that these types of attacks are now happening with frightening regularity across Europe. In some parts of the Middle East they continue at an even more frightening pace.
Many in North America and Western Europe look to the troubled Middle East and figure that’s where attacks like this happen, not here. But, as has been the case in recent years, no country is immune to the threat of bombing and violence. And no matter where it occurs, the wanton killing, maiming and injuring of anyone, be it soldiers or civilians, are terrible deeds worthy of all our condemnation.
But in areas where such acts of terror are commonplace, the repetition of bombing such as the one in Manchester does something else truly inhumane—it hardens the population to such acts. It leads us to accept them, despite our revulsion. Worse still, we shrug off such atrocities as “just the way it is.”
I grew up in the Republic of Ireland during the 1970s and watched as people—myself included—became indifferent to not only the continued terrorist acts in both Northern Ireland and the Republic at that time, but also to the mass suffering they caused. After 10 years there, it wasn’t until I returned to Canada at the age of 18 that I saw “The Troubles” for what they were—barbaric atrocities masquerading as tit-for-tat killings and attempts to terrorize “the other side” into submission.
At that time, Britain was not spared from bombings, as the Irish Republican Army waged a war on defenseless civilian targets, many in large UK cities.
The war in Northern Ireland, which some trace back in history hundreds of years, finally came to an end because there was a willingness on both sides to negotiate a lasting peace. That does not appear to be the case today with the terrorism we are seeing emanating from groups like ISIS and individuals influenced by it.
But one thing is clear, wedges should not be driven between those who oppose such terrorism, no matter their religion or political leaning. Religion, ethnicity or place of birth does not equate to terrorism. The fight against terrorism needs to be waged by all of us—together.
The lives of those so tragically taken in the Manchester Arena bombing Monday deserve at least that.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.