In my last blog post I showed a video from the always astute musician Akala, speaking about his views on what happened and why at the recent tower block fire in London.
Living as we do in this multi-digital platform world we have seen many other videos being added to YouTube about Grenfell Tower, from victims, politicians, journalists, local residents, conspiracy theorists, and the rest. I would like to point your stretched attention to the following 4 videos. All these videos are rather short and, as usual, are worth watching in their entirety. Each one has something new to add to the many discussions taking place around this horrific tragedy.
First up we have journalist Owen Jones interviewing comedian Frankie Boyle, someone I have admired for his original thinking for several years now. In less than 14 minutes Frankie explains, among other things, how Tories are broken sociopaths who profit from crisis after crisis, how getting rid of Theresa May will not really fix anything, how what happened at Grenfell Tower takes things to an “absolute different level of immorality”, and how we all create a faux morality.
The second video features an interview with grime artist AJ Tracey and his brother Mickey. In just over 5 minutes both brothers, who live close to Grenfell Tower, explain how Kensington, where Grenfell Tower sits, is the richest borough in Europe with the average salary being around £100,000. So how come it was the poorest in that borough who burned to their deaths in that tower? Mickey also makes a very positive comment about the Muslim response to the fire:
The real thing that I’ve seen the in last couple of days, we’ve seen no central government response, I’ve seen no local government response. Like I have to big up the Muslims here, the Muslim response has been epic. It’s on an unimaginable scale. Muslims have been coming down from Birmingham, from Leicester, from Luton, to come and help us here and the government can’t even get off their arse and send anyone in. If this was a flood in a Tory constituency, somewhere in Hampshire, right, there would have been the army sent in. – Mickey, brother of grime artist AJ Tracey, speaking about the recent fire in Grenfell Tower
The third video features another comedian, Russell Brand, who reads out a heartfelt piece he wrote in the wake of this fire.
The last video echoes some of the points on the second video. Local residents openly praise Muslims for their efforts during and after the fire. For me, their comments say it all really.
Owen Jones Meets Frankie Boyle | ‘Grenfell Tower Residents Were Treated As Less Than Human’
Grime Artist AJ Tracey On Grenfell Tower Fire: ‘We’ve Seen No Government Response’
Grenfell: A Symbol Of All That Is Wrong? Russell Brand The Trews (E427)
Sometimes there is a news story that has a power that reaches beyond the material facts, even if those facts are themselves potent. Hillsborough was one. The drowned Syrian toddler another. The discernible reality alludes to a deeper truth and invites us to consider the real meaning.
Grenfell is such a story. The image of a burning tower is loaded with significance both modern and ancient. The facts, the deaths, the suffering are in themselves appalling yet the meaning of this story, due perhaps in part to its timing, is quickly becoming revealed.
We already know that residents had organised to protest about the dangerous conditions of their homes. We know that the building was masked by a deadly facade that likely hastened the conflagration. We know that the conglomerate that owned the building had been negligent. We know that we have a government that refused to responsibly regulate housing for the poor. We know that we live at a time where poor people are being continually maligned by austerity. Austerity is not frugality, it is brutality. It is violence.
Whilst the Conservatives are in government they are not in power. They are allied with an extremist, minority group with whom their increasingly unacceptable agenda is now shared. The election result and the success of Corbyn’s Labour, I believe is the beginning of an awakening. This fire, at this time, is a grim omen indeed.
We know that firefighters have long been saying they are not adequately funded to do their job. We know that public services are being deliberately eroded and we are beginning to understand that for many years power and wealth has been seditiously syphoned upward. It began in its contemporary form with Thatcher and has continued with successive governments, under a variety of banners ever since.
They lied about Hillsborough, they lied for decades but the truth was revealed. Ineptitude, prejudice and corruption killed the 96. We recognise that the contempt of refugees and gleeful printed cruelty lead to the death of little Alyan Kurdi.
Grenfell has portent beyond even the unthinkable suffering of its victims. It was a pyre of ordinary people whose voices and needs had been ignored. Whose cause had been maligned. The flames of the fire fanned by the constant damnation of this government and its media partners.
If it proves true that the edifice applied to conceal the decay of the building and improve the vista of newly erected luxury apartments exacerbated the fire then we can succinctly decode the meaning of this awful event. The Grenfell residents were sacrificed for greed and comfort. This burning tower and the screams of its residents are a call for urgent change.
When I first saw the image, like a well-trained citizen, I thought ‘terrorists’. And of course, in a way, it was. Surely for the occupants it felt like terror. Like a horrific assault that they could do nothing about in spite of trying to prevent it. I don’t imagine that as they were immolated they thought “Well at least this fire was caused by corrupt landlords and complicit governments”.
These terrorists can only be beaten by defiance, disobedience and solidarity. By direct involvement in politics and by supporting progressive leaders that want real change and are willing to confront the powerful. Perhaps then this tragedy may have a meaning beyond corruption and neglect, it could be a chance to tear down the facade and face up to the reality we are living in.
– Russell Brand, speaking about the recent fire in Grenfell Tower
Grenfell Locals ‘Thank God For Ramadan’ After Muslims Raised The Alarm About Fire