Friday, July 08, 2005

I Really Don't Want To Write About Terrorism

Last night, having walked from work up to Highgate (in an hour, which I think isn't bad going and at least got me there before it rained), I spent most of the evening with curry and a few beers, watching the blanket wall-to-wall TV terror until I decided that I didn't want to see the same photos again. It didn't seem like a good idea at all to keep rehearsing this stuff, so I decided to shut it off and do the washing up. But, of course, this morning there were the newspapers. On the 390 bus, I sat reading the Grauniad, crammed with terror stories and half-page photos (and that was by no means the least restrained coverage - the Daily Express took it on itself to somehow discover 38 more deaths, and all the small-formats/tabloids ran full front page photos) as it went extremely slowly through King's Cross, past the sealed-off entrances to Russell Square and took the whole of its schedule to get to Gower Street, where I bailed out to walk the rest of the way. (Traffic is just as plentiful today as on any normal day, but the continuing cordons around some of the bomb sites have fucked up the flow, and the fact that only half the Tube is running does the rest.)

In the office, my email inbox(es) are stuffed with terrormail - condolences (for what - I'm not the one who suffered), a request from a radio station in Arizona for an interview, yards of fuckwit troll abuse. The blogosphere is talking of nothing else. I have to scan about thirty news sites for business reasons, but of course they are all flooded with terrorism. Even the specialists are talking about how well the telecoms system held up. The masterpiece was the report that, whilst everyone else suffered, Skype users could speak as they pleased. This is surely not the time for advertorial. Someone in our HR department recently quit, and there was a lunch do in a nearby bar, where - of course - everyone talked about terrorism. I'm terror'd out. It doesn't even worry me.

But needs must when the devil drives. First up, that "power surge". Thanks for the comments regarding how the attack would have first become apparent at underground control. I take your point, but both the Grauniad and the Handelsblatt, the German FT, this morning report that according to a "London Underground source", the "surge" was a "communications ploy". The stations affected are, it turns out, on different electrical circuits. I remain angry about it because I think the public has shown that we are quite grown-up enough to deal with the truth. At no time yesterday did I see any sign of trouble or panic of any kind, even tramping through Kentish Town the mood remained entirely civil.

On the way north, I was phoned up by a colleague at The Sprout who argued that "it didn't seem like Al-Qa'ida; thirty wouldn't be enough". I replied that the Cats' Protection League could be ruled out, and that even al-Qa'ida made mistakes. It strikes me that it could have been much worse, and the why deserves thought. It was certainly a propitious day for terrorism: the G8 in session in Britain, with much military and police effort directed there. The risible caricature fanatic Abu Hamza going on trial. An Israeli minister in town, and the Olympic win (which took the Mayor and various senior civil servants off to Singapore). But at least two of those were unpredicted - was it a rushed job? (And if so, was the bus bomb an unintended consequence?) It's called overdetermination - they are all reasons, but you can't tell which combination is the right one. There's something of a blogodebate as whether this means that the "Power of Nightmares thesis" is finished. Unfortunately, no-one seems to have fully grasped that Adam Curtis never suggested that Islamist terrorists didn't exist; just that al-Qa'ida as anything other than a set of ideas doesn't.

A set of ideas - an ideology - is the most threatening thing there is, anyway. And that is why Ken Livingstone came up with the best speech of the lot, ten times better than either Blair's first, crappy, effort or his second (platitudinous) go.
I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don’t want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.
Fuckin' brilliant. Whilst we're on that topic, another possible reason: Nosemonkey points out that two out of four - in fact, three out of four if you include the wilds of King's Cross - attacks took place in areas of sizeable Muslim population. Were they aiming for a backlash strategy? Dunno, but it's worth thinking about.

By the way: Apparently I've been put on a List of "Lefties making political points". Thanks. That's why I have a blog. (Billy Bragg: If you've got a blacklist, I want to be on it..) Presumably, had I called for a Christian Holy War for Monotheism that would have not been a political point? Or more accurately, I wouldn't be on your ridiculous list although I'd been making political points all over the shop. What with you, and Richard Chichakli calling me a Nazi on his new website, if I'm not making the right friends, at least I'm making the right enemies.

Oh, and Martin Geddes of Telepocalypse is worth quoting:
"anyone who thinks the British will be their ideological slaves under threat of violence hasn’t read their history books very thoroughly. Too many of our ancestors have crawled out of lice-filled trenches to emerge into freedom for you to stand any hope of victory."

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