Forty symbolizes the overcoming of hardship. The Israelites wandered for forty years, while Jesus spent forty days in the desert. For hunger strikers, forty days marks the passage into system failure–the hearing goes, sight fails, the body collapses. Despite everything, let’s hear the call from Manchester: “don’t look back in anger.”
The failure of the strikers’ bodies symbolizes the catastrophic failure of seventy years of counterinsurgency waged by advanced capitalism in the Middle East. At least, a failure on any human terms. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has used the Manchester atrocity to not only acknowledge this but to call for
the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government.
These ideas have closed the gap in the opinion polls from close to 20% to just 5% in a few weeks. Meanwhile everyone here tells me it’s all about 2018 and 2020, while the Democrats continue to offer warmongering and neoliberalism lite.
At the vigil to mark the deaths of twenty-two people in the Manchester Arena, one Mancunian woman just began to sing Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis, a song that so evokes the Northwest of England. And everyone joined in.
My friend Paul, an activist-artist and a truly inspiring person, who has deep roots in Salford, Manchester’s working-class and immigrant twin city, puts this sentiment into words:
I worry that the very use of the word “Terrorism” suggests that there is a need to identify an enemy, rather than the impulse to reach out to a friend. What has happened is human tragedy; it reflects the pain and suffering of countless others in distant parts of the world. Our only answer is unity. We must resolve to stay true to this purpose.
I worry that we in the United States cannot find this humanity in ourselves any more as a collective. I worry that we exalt a leader who pushes his way to the front and boasts of abusing women. I worry that voters in Montana looked at a candidate assault a Jewish journalist and elected him anyway. I worry that my Jewish peers can’t get past their anger to see that the new right are old-school anti-semitic.
Do we doubt that what happened in Manchester is not in very direct ways connected to the intervention in Libya? Do we not realize that a renewed willingness to kill civilians, which has killed 1793 people in Mosul alone since January (according to Airwars) can only make this worse?
How long can you occupy a country in anger? How many people have to die before your anger is exhausted? How many days are enough?