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Aug. 31st, 2005 10:56 am
poliphilo: (Default)
We've been sold a lie.

There is no Al Quaida.

I mean, if there was a big, scary, SPECTRE-like, terrorist organisation lurking in the shadows waiting to get us, it would have managed another hit against the US mainland in the years since 9/11.

There are terrorists, sure- but they're not centrally organised or well-armed or particularly smart. They're capable of one-off attacks on soft targets- as in Madrid and London.

Consider that last- aborted- attack on the London underground. One of the guys- the one the Italians are holding- has said the bombs were never meant to go off. I don't know whether he's lying or telling the truth, but either way his gang were a Mickey Mouse outfit.

I don't want to down-play the danger. There have been bombs and there will be more bombs, but this isn't World War III. We're not up against a Big Enemy, we're up against a scattered bunch of stupid, idealistic young men, all fired up by the same stupid, fascistic ideology.

It's one for the police, not the military.

But the lie about Al Quaida, complicated by further lies about WMDs and the politics of the Middle East, has landed us in an illegal and unwinnable war that is simply stengthening the stupid, fascistic ideology that inspires the stupid, idealistic young men.
poliphilo: (Default)
Omar Bakri Mohammed- Islamic firebrand and loudmouth- has buggered off to Lebanon rather than risk being arrested here in Britain on a charge of treason. Fine. But just because he's no longer under our noses doesn't mean that he'll no longer be a risk and a nuisance. In the age of the internet and EasyJet travel a person's geographical location matters very little. Bakri Mohammed can still access us and his British followers can still access him. The change is purely cosmetic.

Peter Preston was saying yesterday that we're not laughing enough at the preachers of Jihad. We should be using humour as a weapon to deflate them. I guess the fear of being thought racist is what holds us back. But Omar Bakri- a very fat man who waddles- is surely good for a laugh. And then there's that other guy with the glass eye and the hook. And what about the robes and turbans? They're there to suggest spiritual authority- just like the Archbishop of Canterbury's mitre or the Pope's white frock. I think it's time we put aside our scruples and pointed out how silly they look.
poliphilo: (Default)
Now we're being told that the Brazilian man the police shot in Stockwell wasn't wearing a puffa jacket and didn't vault over the ticket barrier to escape.

This is the problem with our rolling 24 hour news services: reporters are so hungry for product they'll accept and process anything that comes their way- conjecture, rumour, misinformation, lies- and the obligation to speak to camera every fifteen minutes means that they don't have time to go check their "facts". More news means worse news.
poliphilo: (Default)
My friend Judy suggests that what we need in this climate of urban suspicion is hand luggage made of clear plastic.

I think she could be on to something.

Anyway, I float the idea. Maybe there's someone out there in a position to develop it.....


Jul. 22nd, 2005 09:13 am
poliphilo: (Default)
You punch above your weight in international affairs- as Britain is proud of doing- and you get punched back. There may not be a direct causal link between Mr Blair's Iraq adventure and the London bombs, but there's clearly a connection. Britain has been dropping bombs all over the Islamic world recently and sooner or later someone was bound to want to retaliate.

This latest failed attack is puzzling. I can think of scenarios that might explain it- the bomb-maker was incompetent- he deliberately sabotaged the mission- but they're all a bit wild. Four dud bombs in a batch of four is verging on the surreal.

The good thing is the police now have four half-exploded bombs to submit to forensic examination. They also- pretty soon- are likely to have four live bombers to interrogate.


Jul. 13th, 2005 10:04 am
poliphilo: (Default)
It seems like we now know who the bombers were.

No names have been released yet, but it seems like we're talking about four young men from West Yorkshire (just across the hills from here.

Friends and neighbours are saying the usual things. How they were quiet, religious, sports-loving, normal.....

A Member of the House of Lords was saying last night that no normal person could understand such depravity.

Don't give me that. Young people (young men in particular) are ignorant, suggestible and "ardent for some desperate glory". Here in Europe in the 20th century whole generations of young men marched off to perform unspeakable horrors and give their lives for a succession of gimcrack, intellectually contemptible ideologies- imperialism, fascism, national socialism, communism. They were fooled.

But willingly fooled.

I was a student radical. I was part of a gang that over-ran a building on campus and occupied it for a fortnight. I didn't understand the politics and had only the faintest idea what our aims were supposed to be; I was simply riding high on the glamour and excitement of it all. I don't suppose I'd have blown myself up for the cause, but then no-one was asking me to. If I'd have fallen into other hands, had another type of ideology pumped into me, who knows?

I wasn't particularly alienated. I just wanted to give myself to something bigger and (as I fantasised ) nobler than myself. I was crying out to be cannon fodder.

And for males in late adolescence, early adulthood, that's normal....
poliphilo: (Default)
My greatest fear is that yesterday's atrocity will change us. That we'll become cowed, suspicious, fearful, chauvinistic, nasty. That, as a direct result, we'll be more ready to allow government to herd us and spy on us and take away our liberties. If these things happen it'll be a victory for the bombers.

The chortling comminique that went up on the net yesterday, purportedly from the bombers, proclaimed (in that curious Arabian Nights lingo these people use) "Behold Britain now, ablaze with fear and terror, horrified from its north to its south, from its east to its west." This isn't my perception of how the people of Britain have reacted. What I feel in myself is rather the opposite, not a quickening, but a slowing down of the pulse, a sadness and a heaviness, a weary resignation. "Oh, not again."

Before this lot there was the IRA and before the IRA there was the Luftwaffe and before the Luftwaffe there were the Anarchist and Bolshevik and Fenian cells that put the wind up the Edwardians and late Victorians. We've been living with bombers for almost as long as there've been modern cities. Read Conrad's Secret Agent, published in 1907 (which fictionalises a real life incident where an half-arsed attempt was made to blow up the Royal Observatory at Greenwich) and it's all there- right down to the loony with explosives strapped to his chest and a switch in his pocket. The ideology changes but the methods and the mindset remain the same.

Two days ago London was on a high because of the Olympics. Last weekend London's Hyde Park was the central venue for the international festival of good will and hard rocking that was Live 8. It looked like it was going to be a good year. And now, suddenly, we've been knocked sideways. Well, a period of mourning is appropriate, but after that we need to recover our groove, our vibe, our mojo. It's not right that a tiny gang of godbothering psychos should dictate the mood of the nation.
poliphilo: (Default)
London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that's free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.
Woa, Liza,
See the coster barrows,
Vegetable marrows
And the fruit piled high.
Woa, Liza,
Little London sparrows,
Covent Garden Market where the costers cry.
Cockney feet
Mark the beat of history.
Every street
Pins a memory down.
Nothing ever can quite replace
The grace of London Town.

There's a little city flower every spring unfailing
Growing in the crevices by some London railing,
Though it has a Latin name, in town and country-side
We in England call it London Pride.

London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that's free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.
Hey, lady,
When the day is dawning
See the policeman yawning
On his lonely beat.
Gay lady,
Mayfair in the morning,
Hear your footsteps echo in the empty street.
Early rain
And the pavement's glistening.
All Park Lane
In a shimmering gown.
Nothing ever could break or harm
The charm of London Town.

In our city darkened now, street and square and crescent,
We can feel our living past in our shadowed present,
Ghosts beside our starlit Thames
Who lived and loved and died
Keep throughout the ages London Pride.

London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that's free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.
Grey city
Stubbornly implanted,
Taken so for granted
For a thousand years.
Stay, city,
Smokily enchanted,
Cradle of our memories and hopes and fears.
Every Blitz
Your resistance
From the Ritz
To the Anchor and Crown,
Nothing ever could override
The pride of London Town.

Noel Coward.


poliphilo: (Default)

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