June 20, 2021

IS IT RACIST TO CONFRONT A SUICIDE BOMBER?

The independent inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing of May 2017, in which 22 pop fans were killed by an Islamist extremist, has published the first volume of its report. It makes for chilling reading. The inquiry has found there were numerous ‘missed opportunities’ to confront Salman Abedi, the bomber, and potentially stop him from detonating the device in his rucksack. Most chilling of all is the reason given by one of the key security guards on patrol that evening as to why he failed to question Abedi. He was worried, he said, that asking a brown-skinned man why he was hanging around the arena might be construed as racist.

Take that in. There was a very shifty-looking young man around the foyer and mezzanine of the Manchester Arena towards the end of an Ariana Grande concert, carrying a ‘bulging’ rucksack so large he ‘struggled’ under the weight of it, and a security guard was reluctant to confront him lest he be accused of racism. In the words of the report, this was a significant ‘missed opportunity’. The ‘inadequacy’ of the security guard’s response to the presence of a highly suspicious individual was one of the many misjudgements made on that black, fateful night, the report says. Is it possible that the fear of being thought of as racist is screwing up everyday life, and even hindering sensible action in threatening situations?

As Mark Steyn wrote in 2005, “With hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta’s jet and the World Trade Center on 9/11, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier:”

Ms Bryant is an official with the US department of agriculture in Florida, and the late Mr Atta had gone to see her about getting a $650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world’s largest crop-duster. A novel idea.

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Mr Atta refused to deal with Ms Bryant because she was “but a woman”. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly.

When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn’t get the 650 grand in cash that day, Mr Atta threatened to cut Ms Bryant’s throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington – the White House, the Pentagon, etc – and asked, “How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?”

Fortunately, Ms Bryant had been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. “I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from,” she recalled. “I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could.”

“Better dead than rude,” to coin a phrase.

UPDATE: More examples of “better dead than rude” from one of Glenn’s USA Today columns in 2016:

There were warning signs with the San Bernardino shooters, whose neighbors reportedly didn’t want to call the cops for fear of being thought racist. And there were warning signs with [Omar] Mateen [the Pulse nightclub shooter in Orlando], who apparently had been on security officials’ radar screen for some time but not enough to do anything about it. Classmates of Nidal Hassan said he regularly spouted Islamist propaganda months before he shot up Fort Hood, but the military was too politically correct to do anything and afterward tried for some time to pretend that his deliberate, jihadist attack was merely “workplace violence.”

(Updated and bumped.)

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