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Questionable facts

Why do you present something as certain fact, that you only believe to be true? Today, online, you began the day circulating the claim far and wide that St. Mary’s hospital has amassed over 100 dead bodies from Grenfell Tower fire and that Chelsea and Westminster hospital has even more. The actual death toll, you told us, is not being released to prevent public furore and outcry.

For reasons known only to yourself, you chose not to preface your claims that you had heard reports that this was the case. You chose not to tell us who you had heard the reports from, or explain how they knew, or whether you had heard it directly from the source, or via the friend of a friend of a friend. Instead you presented it as certain fact, allowing your claims to be shared hundreds of times and be viewed by thousands.

Nobody, nobody, nobody denies that the final death toll of this heartbreaking tragedy will likely be much, much higher than the figures released so far, as the emergency services go through the painstaking and horrific process of recovering bodies from the charred carcass of the tower block. Everybody is fearing the worst.

But in this, I am with the Commander of the Metropolitan Police when he says:

“What is important for me is I will only say something that I know to be true. I know at least 30 people who have died and sadly I do believe those numbers who have died will increase.”

Circulating claims of a massive cover up, of hundreds of bodies already recovered, but officially denied, which would demand the collusion of thousands of health and emergency staff, is of no benefit to anyone, least of all the survivors, families, relatives, loved ones, neighbours and friends, who at this time need comfort, compassion, support, hope and, above all, certainty. Won’t you have mercy on their souls?

Nobody is claiming that the death toll is unimportant. Nobody is downplaying the horror of this catastrophic tragedy. An in-depth criminal investigation must be carried out in full. People must be held to account for this disaster.

But I write all this to you, my esteemed old friend, because you are a man with great influence in your community. You are followed by hundreds on social media alone. Through your work in the media and in community activism you have a reach of thousands. When you say something it matters: people listen to you, believe in you, trust you and respect what you say. You’re not an insignificant nobody, like me, penning a blog that nobody reads.

When you have influence of that kind, the onus is on you to tell the truth all the more. To be clear about the nature of the report you are sharing with others. People believe everything the pious ones tell them (though, to be sure, I hardly believe anything any more).

So tell me: did you obtain this information first hand, from someone whose reliability you can vouch for, who is who they say they are, and has first hand knowledge of the information you have now shared far and wide without a moment’s pause, and which has now been shared repeatedly by others on the basis that you’re the trustworthy soul we’ve always known you to be? And do you think it matters?

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1 Comment

  1. Mohammad

    Assalamu alykum,
    I was there on Wednesday afternoon. One could still see the fire in the middle of the building.
    The people who live in the tower and around it are of multi-racial and multi-religious backgrounds. For once it was very clear that diversity helped in the saving of many lives.
    Wassalam

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