Friday, August 11, 2006

Blowing up planes is wrong

"Put simply, this was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale." So said the police spokesman about the alleged plot to blow up a series of airplanes - causing hundreds, maybe even thousands of deaths.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nailI'm not with those who imply that the whole issue is a PR move (Another absurd publicity stunt? from Al Jazeera for example) although I thought Plot summaries from Richard Norton-Taylor was interesting. This is not just a distraction - although the news will always be presented in their terms rather than ours.

I'm also not with those who are going to pronounce the innocence of those who have been arrested, simply because the police are not to be be trusted, although I'm not for ditching the principle that they are innocent until proven guilty either, I certainly don't share with sections of the press that all these individuals must be guilty just because they've been arrested. (This puts the case for cynicism quite well)

It seems fairly obvious that terrorists exist. These terrorists are not tools of the US or UK governments, they are acting of their own free will, making their own choices.

I want to make myself clear here - I don't believe that passenger airliners are legitimate targets no matter how angry and alienated you are. Although it's too early to be clear where these bombers were coming from politically, I suspect their ideas will be similar to those of the 7/7 bombers and, if so, I share no common philosophy with them. In other words I don't simply think they are making a tactical error but they have a reactionary agenda which has can bring no benefit to the world.

None of this should be taken to mean that Western governments can wash their hands of responsibility for the rise in terrorism across the world. US and UK foreign policy has not brought the peace and security it was supposed to, but fanned the flames of hatred. To deny any link between foreign policy and the rise in domestic terror seems willfully blinkered (UK rejects foreign policy link to attack threat Washington Post).

But whilst a real shift in foreign policy is essential (Muslim plea over foreign policy BBC) it also seems to me that the kind of society that we live in needs some attention too. Alienation and racism I think is at the heart of the problem. Part of the anger I feel when I hear the accusation of "failure to integrate into British society" is both that racism is a barrier to integration and frankly the society they are being asked to integrate into is hardly appealing.

Also I suspect that people are essentially being asked not only to stop having weird foreign ways, like being Muslim, but also that part of the way they are expected to integrate is to change the colour of their skin. It ain't going to happen people - get over it!

When Hitler described how the Nazi movement must "burn into the little man's soul the conviction that though a little worm he is part of a great dragon" I think this expresses, very well, how the alienated and hopeless individual can become attracted to a nihilistic philosophy.

Whilst there are many, many things the UK government should be doing right now at home and abroad until we address the way our society makes people feel like worms we'll not even approach a solution to the fundamental problems that we face.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. You speak of lack of integration as the cause of radical Islamists wanting to blow up passenger planes, but why don't people of Indian descent do the same thing in the UK? Maybe it's because Hindus are tolerant and respectful of other cultures while the radical Islamist would just as soon kill you than live beside you peacefully - even if it's in "your" country.

Jim Jay said...

I don't believe the difference is a religious one. I'm also cautious about the argument about lack of 'integration' because I'm never quite sure what 'integration' is meant to mean.

I think because the focus of Western foreign policy has been the middle east and afghanistan which have a large number of muslims and not so many hindus it has led to a deep politicisation in the muslim community.

Added to that the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans had a big impact on Muslims - something which did not directly effect Hindus.

Whilst there has been ethnic cleansing against Hindus in India I don't think the West is seen as culpable for that.

I think these factors make much more sense than religion when looking to why a tiny minority of Muslims rather than Hindus have turned terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Nice point about the Balkans. If NATO hadn't come in and started bombing Yugoslavia, those Muslims would have been in much worse shape.

Thanks radical Islamists for paying us back for defending your religious brothers!

And you're right, ethnic cleansing of Hindus hasn't been done by the West. It's been done by their intolerant Muslim neighbors.

Is there a pattern here?