Most of us are not leaders, free thinkers or trendsetters. Most of us just follow the prevailing tide.
There may be a groundswell of revulsion today at the alleged crimes of Cyril Smith, Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris, condemnation of the Police for infiltrating the Green Movement and behaving like agent provocateurs, and intense soul searching regarding the failure to prevent the exploitation of young women and girls by gangs of predatory men.
But in truth, at the time and for years and years, the victims of these crimes were not just ignored, but often vilified by the very same people taking the high moral ground today.
Today we are allowed to be outraged by those crimes; but at the time all of that outrage had to be directed at the victim. And nothing changes.
Today’s victims of events yet to be classified as crimes are also vilified in newspapers, on television, during radio phone in shows and by politicians storing up pre-election capital.
Speak of agent provocateurs causing havoc and nobody will recall Mark Kennedy or Craig Monteilh: you are just a fantasist with too much time on your hands.
Speak of underhand political conspiracies and nobody will recall Operation Boot: you are an unpatriotic turncoat.
Speak of the grooming of young girls by militant extremists: the girls are not victims, they say, for they know exactly what they are doing.
Just sit back, be patient. In ten, twenty or thirty years time, lessons will be learned. Investigations will be launched. Papers will be declassified. Court cases will be heard. There will be moral indignation, revulsion and outrage. It will be front page news, the topic of conversation, a wellspring for every columnist and commentator in the land.
But by then, those affected will be long forgotten, their allegations never really, truly taken seriously, even after all this time. The shadow of doubt will remain. And even then, after all that has come to light, people shall say, “Those were the mistakes of the past. We would never behave that way today.”
And we, the people, will ebb and flow like the prevailing tide, following orders, doing whatever we are told, nodding our heads in righteous indignation. For we are a superior people, so much more enlightened than those who passed before us. What superior people we are.