An excerpt from my latest column for the International New York Times, on the Manchester bomb attack:
We need to think more deeply, too, about our immediate responses to acts of terror. Terrorism is a form of theater. Particularly for contemporary Islamist terror, what matters is the spectacle, nothing else. The more depraved that spectacle, the more it achieves its aim.
Murder someone on a Manchester street and it makes the local press. Slaughter two dozen people at a concert for teenagers in the name of Allah and it becomes worldwide news. Bomb a military base, and the shock wears off quickly. Attack a school or playground and it seems to shred the very idea of safety and innocence.
Terrorism is about capturing public attention and manipulating our emotions. When TV stations run an endless loops of videos of panicked people, anguished parents and distraught children, they create the very spectacle that terrorists crave. There comes to be complicity between terrorism and its audience. This is one thing President Trump understands. ‘I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term’, he said this week. He would call them instead ‘evil losers’.
Read the full article on the International New York Times.
The painting is ‘Manchester Skyline’ by Elizabeth A Fox.
The media seem determined to be the terrorists’ greatest allies.
But that is all part of the 24-hours news culture.
Dear Mr Malik, Thank you for this typically thoughtful and sensible piece. I’m slightly surprised that no one has made a connection with Ian Brady, whose death was so recently in the news and whose equally horrible crimes against children were also committed in the Greater Manchester area. I agree that in this week’s case the pictures and recollections of the victims are particularly heart-rending, but also that they too are becoming part of the theatre which such criminals evidently aim for. Yet one can’t simply ignore them or brush them aside. It’s a real dilemma, to which I see no obvious answer.
But I am grateful for your words of wisdom.