Grenfell wasn’t just a tragedy: it was a scandal. And it still is
Lighting Downing Street green is an empty gesture if the government aren’t acting to make sure it can never happen again.
A natural disaster may seem like an entirely random sequence of destruction, but who lives and who dies becomes a matter of politics and economics: poorly-built houses from cheap materials collapse in an earthquake; low-income families are forced to live in the path of potential mudslides; lack of healthcare and emergency resources leads to survivors dying of disease.
The aftermath of the hurricane in Puerto Rico is a stark example of that. Not only did thousands die because of inadequate medical and sanitation facilities, but, after death, they suffered the added insult of not being included in the government’s official toll of the disaster.
Similarly, there are questions to ask after any terror attack, whether lone wolf or not: did police and security agencies have enough resources to deal with it? Were the balances of powers right so that they could have had the best chance to prevent it? Is the government doing enough – and acting in the right ways – to try to prevent people being radicalised in the first place?
Our need to find out why tragedies occurred, and what can be done to prevent them happening again is one that requires us to pursue an unsentimental campaign to get at the truth and hold power to account.
That needs to be balanced with another basic human need after tragedy: to unite against the horror, to show our solidarity with relatives and survivors, and – where relevant – our defiance against the perpetrators.
In the case of Grenfell Tower – a tragedy even more political than most – some gestures of solidarity and symbolism appear like efforts to de-politicise the incident, to make it another horror from which we …read more
Source:: New Statesman