i hope you get cancer™

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The stupid approach to terror

As I write, three tube stations are being evacuated - Shepherd's Bush, Warren Street and Oval. There may also be a bus bomb in Hackney. Let's hope it's a false alarm. However, I started this post because I am daily getting more angry at the stupidity of the right-wing response to the terrorist threat, which promises to put us all at risk. The first error these people make is to imagine that traditional military, political, security responses will be effective against this kind of thing. They use the word 'war' as some kind of virility test, but it masks their sloppy thinking. We must develop new ways of fighting an enemy which has no formal organisation, is not based in one state or even one region, and is - to all intents and purposes - invisible until it strikes. In that respect it is shocking that only now is the British government talking about new policing and intelligence measures. Profiling, another favourite of the right, has clearly proved useless and may have given the London bombers the opportunity they needed. New ideas are needed, not old, lazy, blinkered dogma. The second mistake is the conflation of a legitimate resistance to racism, islamophobia, division and bigotry with appeasement, apology and moral inversion. Those making this accusation tend to be blind to the deeply racist nature of British society, the casual bigotry that millions of Britons experience every day. It is not an act of moral inversion to insist that all British citizens have a right to go about their business free of suspicion, resentment, abuse or worse, especially at a time when that right is being dismissed and questioned by politicians and the media. Just as infuriating is the security impact of strident pigeonholing of muslims. Everyone agrees that a handful of people represent any potential threat. So hearts and minds are there to be won. It is not political correctness or craven handwringing that argues against a 'backlash', but common self-interest. I am offended by the right's instantaneous grasp of racism, apocalyptic fearmongering and divisive rhetoric over the past fortnight. I am if anything more outraged by the thought that such tactics fail to deal with the problem we all face, and indeed may well exacerbate it. Either come up with some intelligent ideas or shut up. Technorati tag: