Please don’t burn reason

So this week something terrible happened in the Kensington district London. On Wednesday, a fire broke out in the Grenfell Tower flat complex, resulting in the deaths of about 30 people and counting, with the final death toll as yet uncertain at the time of this writing, and the destruction of Grenfell Tower, with 76 people missing and feared dead. It is a national tragedy.

And it didn’t take long for the event to politicized. Many people took to protesting the government for its perceived inaction regarding the event, with Prime Minister Theresa May criticized for not visiting the victims. It is worth noting that May did visit the fireman in order to talk with them, presumably in order to try and assess the situation. Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile spent half an hour at a church hugging people, and then used the issue to advocate for the wholesale confiscation of private property in order to house those displaced by the fire.

Worse still, people are seriously trying to proclaim that the Grenfell fire was a crime – either the result of criminal negligence or an act of deliberate corporate malfeasance – without any evidence to suggest this and without an inquiry to produce any evidence of the kind. Labour MP David Lammy was a vociferous cheerleader of such a rush to judgement, advocating that arrests should be made and powerful people should be put in the dock for “corporate manslaughter”, without offering satisfactory evidence of course. Sadiq Khan, a man usually known for his inaction in the face of tragedy, is actually calling for “action and justice” in response to this whole thing. There is actually a movement now titled “”Justice for Grenfell” operating in the vein that this was indeed an act of criminal negligence and corporate malfeasance, and I’m just baffled because I’m not confident that we have any evidence yet that this is the case. Yet here I find people storming the Kensington town hall in what looked like an angry mob, demanding satisfaction, and some people claiming that the government is actively hiding the truth from the people, all without direct evidence. Are we going to start seeing Grenfell truthers soon?

More crucially, are we truly going to be allowed to give into mob mentality like this, rushing to judgement based only on reactionary whims? I know this must be horrible for the people in Kensington, and you can hardly blame them for having an intense emotional reaction to what is, by all accounts, a tragedy. But there is a danger that too little patience is being exercised for the government. It will take time to find all the answers, and a full inquiry will likely be a pretty slow process. In the meantime, there should be focus not just on gathering the facts in a calm and rational manner but also on recovery as people will need to find new homes, preferably in a manner that doesn’t entail full blown socialist confiscation of private property. I sincerely hope we don’t throw our sense of reason into the fire as well.

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A photograph taken of Grenfell Tower at the time of the fire

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