One positive aspect of the terrible carnage in Manchester on Monday is the sympathy it has brought Britain from (nearly) all corners of the earth, as do atrocities everywhere (how we loved America after 9/11!); and the admiration expressed in the foreign press for the Mancunians’ reaction to it. This seems to have exemplified the best side of ‘multiculturalism’, so often derided on the Right; with everyone of all cultures and conditions rushing to help – Moslem taxi drivers offering free rides away from the scene of the incident, for example – and the universal theme being ‘togetherness’. This, at least, is welcome, after the stick the British have been getting in the European press over Brexit and the popular racism and hatred that that unleashed.
I’m told that this is the overwhelming theme of the extensive and sympathetic reports of the Manchester bombing carried in the Swedish press, with my source (Kajsa) giving it as her impression that it has transformed the image of Britain there. It’s a dreadful price to pay, and the admiration might not last long: it may depend on whether and how the Tories ‘use’ this event for electoral purposes. (Dagens Nyheter is discussing that, too.) After all, the outpouring of love for the USA after the Twin Towers didn’t long outlive George W Bush’s response to it. But it’s something to cling on to for now.
There is of course an alternative pattern of response to these horrors. Let’s hope our government models itself on the Norwegians’ after Utøya, rather than the Americans’ after 9/11. I’m not too confident of that, under our current – and probably future – authoritarian prime minister.