What are the risks for a nation seeking to protect its citizens from violence? Is there a point at which a society can become so bunkered, walled off, and restrictive that it begins to forfeit its essence? Something like this, to various degrees and in different ways, is happening in Erdoğan’s Turkey, Netanyahu’s Israel, Modi’s India, and Trump’s America. For much of the past forty-five years, the United Kingdom, too, has intermittently had to answer questions of national security and civil liberties—and even human rights—in dealing with the threat of terrorism. Last week, it had to ask them all over again.The British are rightly proud of their tradition of remaining stoic in the face of horrific adversity. The so-called “7/7” attacks of 2005, in London, when four young jihadis set off bombs on trains and a bus, killing fifty-two people in addition to themselves, is a notable case in point. When children are the target of an attack, as they were in the gut-wrenching atrocity at the Manchester Arena, last Monday, stoicism is much more difficult to maintain. Even so, a decorous calm has mostly prevailed in Britain, notwithstanding an ongoing security alert triggered by fears that other terrorists might be preparing to strike.
After Manchester, the U.K. Weighs Security and Freedoms