Backpacks (Stock image)
Backpacks (Stock image)iStock
It is a sad script that we have become used to. How many terrorists shouldn't have landed on Lampedusa, like the one who killed in the basilica of Nice? How many shouldn't have been naturalized, like the one who beheaded Samuel Paty? How many shouldn't have fooled the "de-radicalization" programs, such as the one of the London Bridge?

But the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017, in which 22 people were killed by an Islamic extremist, is chilling reading for another reason. It turns out that there were numerous "missed opportunities" to stop Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber, and potentially stop him from carrying out that killing. But the most chilling thing is the reason given by one of the main security guards that evening as to why he didn't stop Abedi.

Kyle Lawler was concerned that night, he said, that asking a dark-skinned man why he wandered around the arena with a large backpack could be interpreted as racist. In the words of the report, this was a significant "missed opportunity". "I didn't want people to think I was stereotyping him because of his race," Lawler said.

England is not new to this form of paralysis. For a long time police, politicians and social services have remained silent in the face of what was happening in Rotherham, where gangs of Pakistani rapists abused girls, for fear of being called "racists".

Brendan O’Neill, in the Wall Street Journal, called it "the danger of politically correct".

Abedi remained in the Arena for over an hour and a half before detonating the bomb. He arrived at 8:51 pm and blew himself up at 10:31 pm, as the concert attendees started to leave. He was described by some as "nervous" and "restless". Christopher Wild and his partner, who were on their way to pick up their daughter, discussed the possibility that Abedi had a bomb in his backpack. The report then documents the guard's concerns. He "he was afraid of being labeled a racist."

The daily use, without context or foundation, only to intimidate and prevent any discussion, of words like "racist" and "Islamophobic" is having a dramatic impact on Western society and on its ability to defend itself. We live in an age where almost everything can be called "racism", to the point of asking an agitated Muslim with a backpack what the hell he is up to.

We will never know if Abedi could have been stopped. But our fear of acting, for fear of being labeled, well we should talk about that.

Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author, in English, of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books, in addition to books in Italian. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary