Our empathy in the wake of Grenfell and the Finsbury Park attack is admirable. But we cannot allow it to obscure who the real victims areby Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin / June 19, 2017 / Leave a comment
Inevitably, London has responded to the Finsbury Park mosque attack with an uplifting Tube sign: “Tough times don’t last, tough people do. Stick together all of us.”
Now, I’m sure the staff of Finsbury Park Underground station had the best of intentions when they chose this as their quote of the day.They, and those who shared it online, were invoking a comforting image of a resilient, united London that stands tall despite being buffeted by tragedy. Because, as the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner put it, this was in a sense “an attack on London and on all Londoners.”
But that notion of unity must be tempered by an awareness that ‘London’ has not experienced this horror—a specific group of people from a specific community have. The same is true of the Grenfell Tower fire. For all of us, proximity and non-stop media coverage take their toll and the last few weeks have been frightening and draining. But I have seen too many well off, white Londoners suggest that we’re all victims. We’re not.
The real victims are dead, or in hospitals around the capital, or in temporary accommodation, grieving the loss of loved ones and wondering if their remains will ever be recovered. In the main, they are poor people of colour whose fears have been ignored by local authorities and by government, and whose anger is now being condemned.
What can the sign in Finsbury Park tube station mean to those people? For many of them, these tough times will last. They may be provided with new homes, and their grief and trauma may subside over many years, but their loved ones are never coming back. The agony of the last…