2017 might prove to be the year we caved in to terrorism. The year we accepted that the occasional act of Islamist barbarism, the occasional mass stabbing of Saturday-night revellers or blowing apart of girls at an Ariana Grande concert, is just something that happens, like bad weather. It was the year in which our response to terror was not anger, far less ‘Blitz Spirit’, but a collective sad-face emoji. ‘Don’t look back in anger’, we said after the horror in Manchester, perfectly capturing the defeatist, self-silencing, emotion-policing nature of our attitude to terror today.
In 2017 we witnessed the rise of the terror amnesia industry – an informal but effective effort by the political class and opinion-forming set to shush serious discussion about terrorism; to tame strong emotions post-terror; to make people forget, in essence, the latest bloody destruction of their fellow citizens, or at least stop thinking about it. ‘Don’t look back…’