Best columns: Europe
Impossible to prevent every attack
The Daily Telegraph
After an atrocity like the Manchester bombing, it’s tempting to blame security agencies for failing to protect us, said Fraser Nelson. Acquaintances of suicide bomber Salman Abedi say they repeatedly warned MI5 about his dangerous beliefs before he blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert last week, killing 22 people. So why wasn’t he stopped? Simple: There are literally “thousands of potential Islamic terrorists on the books of MI5.” Only a police state could monitor them all. Before 9/11, our agencies had about 250 people on their list of possible terrorists; a few years ago, that list had grown to 3,000. There are only so many cases MI5’s 4,000 staffers can investigate, which is why they focus on the 500 or so most pressing threats. “The idea that we either can or would want to operate intensive scrutiny of thousands [of people] is fanciful,” says MI5 head Andrew Parker. “This is not East Germany, or North Korea—and thank goodness it’s not.” Our security services know that even though they can foil many plotters, they can’t catch them all. That’s why a terrorist attack is not synonymous with a security failure and why passing new laws to curb civil liberties would be a mistake. The depressing truth is that “we are as safe as we are likely to get.”
When a private rant goes public
Corriere della Sera
Italy’s most beloved TV star has just revealed his nasty side, said Chiara Maffioletti. Flavio Insinna, actor and host of Italy’s version of Deal or No Deal, that “gentle and kind man” who recently spoke out so eloquently for tolerance and equality, was exposed by the muckraking Italian show Strip the News as a profane jerk who hates his audience and his guests. The show aired a behind-the-scenes tape of Insinna from 2015, in which he railed against the stupidity of one petite guest—that “idiot dwarf,” in his words—and shouted that he ought to be able to choose contestants rather than have them randomly selected from the audience.
“I could easily tell you,” he said, “this one will be s--- and that one is s--- and that one.” It was a prolonged rant, not one unfortunate comment taken out of context. Insinna, 51, has been justifiably pilloried, not only for his demeaning comments about the people who have made him a star but also for losing his temper at work and behaving like a prima donna. I won’t defend him. But we should all ask ourselves: Isn’t it possible that any of us might have had some private conversation or altercation that, “if recorded and aired, would bring us tremendous shame?” Just be glad you’re not famous.