What Price a White life over a Black life? What price a man’s life?
#Men’s Lives Matter #Black Lives Matter
Aside from trying to figure out what kind of madness would make a man commit such heinous crimes and take away so many innocent lives, including putting their own at risk of certain death, the media, Government and Police response to recent events in Manchester and London, has made me question the value we put on men, boys and Black lives.
The answer’s quite apparent to me. Greater value is placed on a white and female life than those of men and boys, even less if they’re Black boys and men.
As we know 22 people were tragically killed at the Manchester Arena Ariana Grande concert on 22nd May 2017. 59 people were seriously injured. Many still remain in hospital being treated for their injuries. Last Saturday night history repeated itself with 7 people killed by three terrorists wreaking inhumane havoc, reportedly (and utterly misleadingly if they believe it) “in the name of Allah” on London Bridge and Borough Market in the heart of London. This had echoes of the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017.
It’s sickening and my thoughts go out to the dead, the injured and their bereaved families and friends. Just as awful are the deaths of 31+ innocent young men in London and across England in the first 6 months of this year. 19+ of these were a result of knife crime. Hundreds more have suffered non-fatal knife injuries. In previous years they would have died but the development of trauma centres of expertise in the capital, over familiarity with knife wounds has resulted in improved skills of NHS surgeons and doctors and therefore the capability to save people from what previously would have been fatal wounds.
Whilst many knife attacks, especially the fatal ones, garner a fair amount of media coverage, none of it compares to the mass, sustained coverage that Manchester and London Bridge has received and will continue to over the coming days and fortnight. It will be relentless, unlike the coverage of knife attacks.
One thing that is apparent is the racial and gender profile of those attacked. The 22 killed in Manchester were all white and predominantly female. 17 women and girls. 5 men.
Manchester Arena victims 22 May 2017
In London the majority of the knife crime victims were male and Black. Approximately 31 people have been killed so far in 2017. 30 of them men and boys. Last year 61 people were stabbed to death in London alone.
It’s ironic then that Manchester’s had so much focus especially when you look at the response to Borough Market when so many brave men stood up at risk of personal injury, which most suffered and survived, to selflessly protect others. Men get a bad rap a lot of the time and of course it is sadly men committing most of these knife crimes and terrorism, but on this occasion let’s hear salute the many brave ordinary men who stood up and fought the terrorists last Saturday night.
The almost immediate Government response to Manchester was firstly to convene a Cobra meeting of the Cabinet, then raise the threat level to the highest ‘Critical’, then lower it back to ‘severe’. We quickly saw the army on the streets of London, patrolling side by side with armed police in a show of military strength. Less than two weeks later the futility of that ‘after the horse has bolted’ approach was brutally and violently exposed with the attack on London Bridge by a van ploughing through pedestrians and three armed knife men running amok through Borough market in Central London.
I’ve said it before [Armed Police Can’t Stop Attacks, Evening Standard 22.08.16] and I’ll say it again, you could double Police number’s, arm them all if you like, put soldiers on the streets of the capital and right across England but it’s not going to prevent another attack ever happening again. This Islamic rooted extremist terrorism is not based upon a traditional foe, an army that we can locate and bomb to smithereens. The lone wolf or wolves are clearly unpredictable and virtually impossible to stop in their tracks without legitimate reason. That means other solutions are required. Namely understanding and tackling the root cause of extremism. It’s all well and good the Government having a go at social media sites, but they are not to blame. They are just the tool by which some extremism is voiced. If it wasn’t through that, it would be via email, text or verbal conversations. It means talking to people, educating young people; infiltrating Mosques and elsewhere where extremists and those with potential to become radicalised hang out. For sure there’s a role for Social media giants here but so too for the users. No one company can be expected to monitor and act upon the millions of posts made across social media each day. Users of these sites also have a role to report posts and individuals of concern.
Armed Metropolitan Police
Some commentators say the cuts in the Police force numbers have partly facilitated the opportunity for recent attacks. However you could treble Police numbers and quadruple the Police budget but it wouldn’t necessarily of itself prevent further attacks. In fact the new Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has said they Police have enough funding, so that closes that argument down.
In the light of the need to find savings society as a whole has to be the eyes and ears of the authorities. Vigilant as they go about their everyday business to what’s going on around them and reporting anything suspicious. There are around 70 million people living in the UK. The Police can’t possibly monitor everyone of us, or every possible suspect, but if everyone stays vigilant and alert we increase the chances of uncovering, reporting and rooting out extremists.
The country needs to stop running away from its core Christian values return to them. Fast. We’re currently lead by a daughter of a vicar, Theresa May. We have a Green party leader Tim Farron, a known Christian who seems to be all too keen to keep his beliefs and core spiritual values hidden. I would say that the Christian values he and the Prime Minister Theresa May share (as well as the DUP) are the values that need to be emphasised and promoted in order to help keep our nation safe and secure. They should not be hidden. They are nothing to be embarrassed about. It is the first responsibility of a Prime Minister to keep their citizens safe and to be fair on the whole our Government, Police and security forces do keep us safe, but there can be a perception at times like this, that more could be done to prevent the atrocities we’ve seen, be it terrorist attacks or random knife attacks on individuals.
Allied to this, there is a vital role for the church, for people of faith generally, whatever faith that might be to reach out and preach a message of love and Christian, faith values to an audience beyond their congregation. Literally and figuratively there is no point solely preaching to the converted! The church and its followers need to spread the word outside of their Christian circles.
The removal of Christian, faith based religious school assemblies hasn’t helped. If you want young people to grow up with good, decent values then perhaps schools could review their policies on assemblies.
Foreign policy needs reviewing too. The Government can’t revoke past military interventions, but it could revisit its current approach to foreign interventions and how it may well have exacerbated tensions and fired up Islamic extremists.
Can Local authorities do more to create more amenable environments for young people? Give the young something positive to do. Somewhere safe and fun to go to. The closure of youth centres hasn’t helped over recent years. Can local council’s look at the general environment to make areas more pleasant places to live, work, play, shop and socialise in? If you look around a big city like London, there are beautiful boroughs, wealthier boroughs with relatively low crime rates, as well as poorer borough’s that are less attractive places to live in, but despite such disparities that doesn’t mean more can’t be done to instill a sense of pride in an area, make it a nicer place to reside in and visit.
On an individual level, more people need to consider stepping up to see what they can do. Be that mentoring, volunteering, engaging with young people, so that they know they are loved, know right from wrong and have good values instilled in them.
Whether you’re killed in a terrorist attack or one of the random London knife crimes the effect is the same and I doubt the poor victims are distinguishing between the two, but what they want and deserve is a better response and better, more realistic solutions put forward to help prevent others suffering their fate.
Regardless of whether we agree with the potential solutions suggested here, you have to wonder why the response is so disproportionate between Manchester, London Bridge and the more regular knife attacks going on in London and all over the country? Was it because mainly white women and girls were killed in Manchester, but “only” Black men, predominantly, in London? Does society, the Government and Police care more about young white girls and women than young Black boys and men? When you look at the images of those killed the coverage and response from the authorities is quite stark.
Furthermore and astonishing £10+ million has been raised for the Manchester attack. Whilst that’s great I have to ask what on earth is it for? This includes £2m from the Arianne Grande ‘OneLoveManchester’ concert. I understand it’s for the families of the bereaved. The Manchester Emergency Fund site states, “The fund will make payments to help families who are in need – including those who are faced with funeral costs and individuals who may have suffered life limiting injuries. The fund has been established after countless people, from Manchester and from around the world, expressed their desire to help.”
Fine, but let’s look at who’s been killed. 10 were children. They weren’t working. They were not the breadwinners for the family. So other than support with funeral costs what financial loss have they or their families suffered? 12 were adults of working age. Great to help them, but this is Manchester, not the Philippines or Jamaica. People have pensions and life assurance here. It’s their job to pay out to the bereaved, not Joe Public’s. At this rate everyone bereaved or injured will be millionaires. Unless they were that rich, this is hardly a sum that just gets them back on their feet as per the stated intention. I think more transparency is needed over this. I understand that sums in excess of that required will go back to the Red Cross for further victims of terrorists attacks so in that sense it’s great to know that others may benefit in future from the UK’s and world’s generosity in supporting this fundraising campaign.
The media likes to report that tragedies like Manchester and London Bridge, along with major concerts like the ‘OneLoveManchester’ show on Sunday night, unite a nation. Really? Did you see the 50,000 crowd packed into the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground? It didn’t look very diverse to me. I spotted less than 10. A mere handful of Black and Asian faces in the crowd. There were more Black people performing on the stage at any one time (and not many at that) than in the audience! Some might say that the artists lacked appeal to Black and Asian’s but that’s missing the point. I thought the idea was for the people of Manchester to unite in celebration of life and music, as well as fundraise for the victims. Whether Arianna Grande, Justin Bieber or Coldplay are you cup of tea or not somewhat missed the point.
It actually highlighted what we all know that at the end of the day. Different cultures don’t mix socially. White people prefer to mix with white, Asian’s mix with Asians and Black people prefer to socialise with fellow Black people. You see that everywhere. That’s just the way it goes. That’s not going to change anytime soon, but perhaps it needs to if we’re to understand one another better, remove any prejudices and basically get along better. In that case maybe the line up needed to be more racially diverse and inclusive?
The Prime Minister Theresa May said after the London Bridge attack that “enough is enough” but we’ve heard that before so many times from others after terrorism or knive attacks. I even wrote an article with that very title 2 years ago. A more joined up, revitalised approach is urgently required to tackle Islamic extremism, try and prevent or at the very least seriously reduce the chances of further terrorist attacks as well as strive to reduce the localised, individualised knife crime, that is no less dangerous and murderous, in our country.
We (Government and individuals) need to come up with solutions that are not just military, scaremongering ones. Those one’s have not worked. As we enter men’s health week (12-18 June 2017) and approach Father’s Day next Sunday 18th June 2017, society needs to care more for and recognise that men’s lives and black lives matter just as much as white men and women’s and if we do so, perhaps we’ll come up with actual, workable solutions.
“All you need is love” sang the Beatles famously 50 years ago this month. The sentiments are poignant and ever relevant. Our country, our world in fact, could do with a little more love and a lot less hate.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
- Armed Police Can’t Stop Attacks – Tiemo Talk of the Town writing in Evening Standard – 08.08.16
- Standing up to Knife Crime – Fundraising Comedy Show – 19.10.15
- The Cross and the Switchblade – Book review – 17.02.15
- Enough is Enough – 03.02.15
- Remembrance Sunday – Is it a Load of Poppycock? – 09.11.14
- Are men in Crisis? – 25.09.15.
- Men’s Health Week 2017 – Men’s Health Forum