Crap, 'Communities', And Yet More Crap
Do the Government believe all the nonsense they've been spouting since the London bombings or is it all political spin and a desire to be seen to be doing something?
The argument that our participation in the Iraq war didn't increase our vulnerability to terrorism at home is really too silly to merit any discussion. A poll today showed that most people don't believe it.
And Ministers are using the tactic of refuting a claim that nobody is making. Nobody is saying that we would have been safe from terrorism if we hadn't invaded Iraq or that terrorism didn't pre-date the Iraq war. But it's as plain as the balls on an Airedale that invading Iraq increased the risk. Indeed, our own intelligence services warned of this before the war. So they do get some things right. And Bin Laden himself apparently said that if his quarrel was with Western values then he would bomb the Scandinavian countries. But it isn't and he hasn't.
Then there's a press report that the Government is considering citizenship ceremonies for everybody when they reach eighteen, so they can affirm their allegiance to the nation.
Oh yes, that will solve everything.
Is a fundamentalist teenager going to say 'Sorry, I can't go through with this ceremony. The whole thing would be a mockery since my ambition is to be a suicide bomber and kill as many of you bastards as I can'?
And what about the millions of us who went through a First Communion and a Confirmation ceremony in the Catholic Church and now hate everything it stands for?
The irony is that it's a British characteristic to regard having the national flag and pictures of the Head of State in schools and public buildings as rather cheesy in the case of America and rather sinister in the case of authoritarian regimes. So the Government's idea is itself a contradiction of an essential element of 'Britishness'.
There's also now the great chorus of politicians and commentators calling on the 'Muslim community' to root out the minority of extremists in their midst.
But what about the extremists within the indigenous, white, non-Muslim 'community'?
Let's not forget that the BNP are sitting in many Council chambers in this country.
Or that there was a wave of attacks on Mosques in the past two weeks.
Or that a Muslim man in Nottingham was murdered.
Or that the right-wing, extremist Brixton and Soho nail bomber would have loved to have killed as many people as the recent London bombers so long as most of them were blacks or queers.
I'm not suggesting that the extreme right represent as great a threat to life as fundamentalist suicide bombers. But look at the millions of votes stacked up by the BNP in local and European elections in this country. Isn't that almost more worrying than a small group of terrorists whose intentions are shared by very few?
I commend an article by Peter Preston in yesterday's Guardian which exposed the absurdity of the vogue term 'community'.
Ask yourself which 'communities' you could be considered a member of and then consider whether in any instance the term has any fucking meaning whatsoever.
I suppose it might be said that I'm a member of the 'blogging community'. Does this mean anything more than that I'm one of ten million (or is it now 20 million?) people who write a blog?
Not to me it doesn't. Blogging is one of the most individualistic activities you can undertake. What do we have in common other than posting our witterings on the internet every day? As it happens, I also floss my teeth every day. Does that make me a member of the 'flossing community'?
And don't start me on the absurdity of the 'gay community'. You don't hear much about the 'heterosexual community' although I'm sure that by now the term has been used. I believe that politicians already talk about the 'non-ethnic community' and the 'indigenous community'.
There are no 'religions' any more. Only bloody 'faith communities'.
You can only escape the tentacles of these myriad, multiplying 'communities' if you are on the remotest, darkest shores of society. So terrorists belong to a 'network' and paedophiles belong to a 'ring'. Traditionally, criminals belonged to a 'criminal fraternity' although by now they're probably part of a 'non-law-abiding community'.
Me, I'm an individual and refuse to be forcibly co-opted into any fictitious 'community'. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I'm not sure I'd want to belong to any community that would have me as a member.
The other worrying response to the London attacks is the proposed new anti-terrorist legislation. Governments always contradict themselves. They say that there's no way that you can stop determined terrorists but they then proceed to introduce a raft of idiotic measures that destroy the very freedoms we are supposed to be defending.
New legislation on supporting acts of terrorism will need to be extremely carefully drafted if it is not to restrict legitimate expressions of opinion. When I write here that there is no moral distinction between blowing up innocent civilians in London and our Government bombing innocent civilians in Iraq, people could choose to interpret that as support for terrorism.
It clearly is not because I condemn both. But people like myself may need to choose our words very carefully and avoid any possible ambiguity. If you have a reasonably good grasp of English that shouldn't be too great a problem. But if someone expresses themselves clumsily they could find themselves an ex-member of the 'blogging community' and a member of the 'Belmarsh community' before you could say 'detention without trial'.