Fishy Tales

12 July 2005

Situation Normal..

Generally speaking I've been making a point of completely ignoring the London Attacks. There are plenty of good reasons, but the main one is that I've not been personally affected in the slightest. That may sound selfish and/or unsympathetic, but in my opinion you can never really empathise with the victims of such atrocities; so unless you have actually been invited to watch or listen, any involvement is as an intrusive audience. And that kind of involvement all too easily turns into nothing better than "grief pornography"- the ghastly fascination of a car accident, the need to find out how, exactly, people died, the need to get under the skins of their nearest and dearest and feel their pain and grief, especially if they're at all like you, the need for detailed descriptions, and especially for photographs. It could be we actually need the (vicarious) proximity of death to feel emotionally alive, our lives being so shallow. Though that's putting it ungenerously - if, by submerging ourselves in horror, we emerge with a deep and lasting appreciation of how lucky and blessed we are, it's probably no bad thing.

However, to the extent that the media is obliged to cater for our hunger for more information and to grab our attention, there is certainly the danger that it can play right into the hands of terrorists at times like this. I find myself (and this is becoming a habit) in very strong agreement with Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times:
The terrorist’s objective is not to kill but, by doing so, to publicise a cause and incite a violent and repressive response... It is one thing to report, another to wallow in grief pornography as if the bomb itself were a celebrity. Such massive publicity feeds terror’s first objective and incites its second.

I also agree with his tying in Blair's adoption of (Bush's) catastrophically stupid term "war against terrorism"
Blair’s desire to associate the London bombs with the global war on terror leads him into dangerous territory...Such confusion leaves Britain vulnerable to a lethal moral calculus. It invites critics worldwide to set the number of dead Londoners against the number of Iraqi civilians killed each month by coalition forces. It asks how many Muslims have British forces killed. It asks why the West waxes hysterical over London’s dead “innocents” and not over equally innocent corpses piled in the morgues of Baghdad as a result of British policy.
And to quote Robin Cook:
I think the problem with George Bush's approach is that he does keep talking about it as a war on terror as if there is a military solution and there isn't.
I suppose the point is that we need to genuinely know our enemy and avoid simplistic conclusions like "They're all nutters who will attack us in any way they can regardless of anything we do", the former view shared by Brian Walden. For Blair to attempt to dissociate the London Attacks completely from British foreign policy of the last few years (decidedly similar to American foreign policy) is at least disingenous, but is dangerous to the extent it fosters ignorance.

And he'd better keep to his word and not bring in strict new security laws on the basis of these attacks.

Anyway, life goes on more or less as normal, and there's the beauty of it, and long may it reign in London and throughout this little bunch of islands in the North Atlantic just off the coast of Europe.



Damn. All I originally intended was to say that I like the idea of everyone setting up universally recognoised Emergency Contact (ICE) Numbers on their mobiles. Ah well.

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