Beyond evil

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

The pho­to­graph of a drowned three­year-old Alan Kurdi, his body found washed up on a Turk­ish beach, mo­ti­vated thou­sands of peo­ple to take ac­tion over the plight of Syr­ian refugees.

The news flow­ing from Manch­ester, Eng­land, will likely mo­ti­vate just as many, if not more.

Not in the same way, but for the ex­act same rea­son.

The out­come may be equally dra­matic; it could be a turn­ing point that no one ex­pected.

Mon­day night, in what ap­pears to be a ter­ror­ist at­tack, a sin­gle sui­cide bomber blew him­self up out­side an Ari­ana Grande con­cert, just as scores of young fans were leav­ing the venue. Re­ports from the scene in­di­cate the ex­plo­sive weapon may have been a nail bomb, de­signed to in­jure and maim as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

At this point, at least 22 in­no­cent vic­tims have died, and more than 100 were in­jured.

Many of the dead are chil­dren, and both the main­stream media and so­cial media are rapidly fill­ing with pho­tos of the dead and the miss­ing.

In some ways, this at­tack is fol­low­ing the im­me­di­ate re­sponse to other at­tacks: a great swell of in­for­ma­tion about the vic­tims, of­ten fol­lowed by anal­y­sis — in­formed or oth­er­wise — about the at­tacker or at­tack­ers.

That’s usu­ally fol­lowed by a grad­u­ally sub­si­dence; the faces of the vic­tims fade from pub­lic view, and life re­turns to nor­mal for those who have not been di­rectly af­fected. Life goes on.

That very likely won’t be the case this time. Cer­tain things tend to get seared into mem­ory, and any­one with chil­dren or who spends time with chil­dren and young adults, will have a hard time look­ing at their smil­ing charges and not imag­in­ing the type of evil it would take to de­lib­er­ately sin­gle out and at­tack a sin­gle child, let alone an event filled with chil­dren.

At this point, ISIS has taken credit for the at­tack. That is not un­usual — ISIS has a record now of tak­ing credit for any at­tack that ap­pears to have a hint of rad­i­cal in­volve­ment.

But whether the at­tacker turns out to be part of an ISIS-led ter­ror­ist cell that de­lib­er­ately chose this at­tack, a lone-wolf loose ad­her­ent to the ISIS cause, or even a de­ranged solo at­tacker, the re­sult could be to harden the re­solve of those who feel vi­o­lence is the an­swer. It could also cause a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of those who would rather find a non­vi­o­lent so­lu­tion to re­li­gious conflict to ei­ther sit on their hands or back away from the de­bate.

When chil­dren are tar­gets, es­pe­cially de­lib­er­ate tar­gets, the re­ac­tion is both vis­ceral and per­sonal. And it doesn’t in­volve pleas for un­der­stand­ing.

If the goal was to broaden the di­vide, it may well be suc­cess­ful. We may hear much about sow­ing the wind, and reap­ing the whirl­wind.

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