Syndrome Will Endanger Lives: a British Reaction to the
by Stella Jorgensen
The day the British people had been awaiting for four years finally arrived on the seventh of July. On the day there were few tears on display, few screams, no hysteria to speak of. For many, the immediate worry was logistical — how they would make it into work, or how they would get home that evening. The crumpled people who drifted around the series of mini Ground Zeroes like litter seemed more confused than afraid.
Much has been said about
However, even if we can explain
As soon as news of the bombing broke, I began to receive a steady
stream of fulsome e-mails from American friends: pictures of twined union flags
and stars and stripes, flickering virtual candles, poems, heartfelt expressions
of sympathy and friendship. I do not doubt for one second that their sentiment
was genuine, but still it felt…odd to me. I am ashamed to admit that I could
not escape a vague feeling of being somehow insulted, as if
Maybe the British public share some measure of this strange feeling, and want to find their own way to cope that doesn’t involve flag waving, public tears or wounded animal cries for vengeance.
Or is their silence explained by their feelings of guilt? The act of terrorism has been universally condemned, and rightly so. Civilians of all colours and creeds stand together and voice their repulsion. Multi-faith statements of solidarity are issued by leading clerics. Newspapers carried solemn black banners. Yet over the last few weeks there has been a growing sense that, as a nation, we are not entirely blameless, and we are certainly not the ones who suffer most.
As I watched the aftermath of the bombing on television, the thought
occurred that the fear, the anger and the disgust I felt as I watched my fellow
citizens wipe blood from their eyes was just the merest fraction of what the
A few days after the tragedy I watched Dr. John Reid, the Defence
Secretary, being interviewed. He insisted that this attack had nothing to do
with Tony Blair’s disastrous outing in
We might never be certain about the first group of bombers, but all
of the second group survived, and their professed motives must be accepted. One
of their number, Hussain Osman, when arrested in
The government line is as ludicrous as it is predictable. Terrorists
are evil. They hate our way of life. They do not act out of political
motivation. How could the
These fallacies do not require much effort to demolish. Firstly, how can terrorists be evil, since they use the same tactics as armies, only on a smaller scale. If Blairite logic is true, this must mean state sanctioned bombers are evil too. Secondly, in this case, “they” do not hate “our” way of life. They are us. They were British-born citizens who lived in vibrant multi-racial communities, as deeply involved in “our” way of life as anyone else. One was a teaching assistant much loved by his pupils, one was a prize winning cricket player, one had a dad who ran that most British of institutions — a chip shop. All were from moderately religious, law abiding families. It is hard to imagine a more assimilated group of people.
As for the claim
that terrorism could not be motivated by Iraq since the events of 9/11 occurred
before the invasion, one almost feels embarrassed for the government, that they
choose to participate in this demeaning game of historical Twister rather than
accept the barest responsibility for their actions.
Comparing 9/11 and 7/7 is like comparing apples and oranges — they might both
be fruit, but they grew on different trees. Prior to the “war on terror”
Islamic unease at the US hinged on (among other things) the first attack on
Iraq and the ensuing sanctions which killed half a million children under 5;
the immovable US support for the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and US
military presence in the Saudi holy land and their dealings with the repressive
Saudi government. Many other legitimate complaints exist, both historical and
contemporaneous, but space does not permit an examination of them here. The
important issue to understand is that people who committed terrorism pre 9/11
were motivated by different points of reference than the new wave of bombers.
Now, radicalised Islamic eyes are falling to the injustices of the war on
terror that has deliberately targeted impoverished, oppressed people with
little means of self defence in A
When the majority of British people, moderate Muslims around the
world and most importantly, actual bombers themselves, say that avenging the
If it is important to find the motive of a murderer in order to understand him, it must be crucial to understand what motivates those who commit mass, indiscriminate murder. Unless we understand them, we cannot hope to stop them in future. The government’s collective case of Ostrich Syndrome and denial of any culpability endangers lives in future. Their bizarre attitude is thrown into even sharper relief by the pragmatism of the general public.
Since the bombing, anyone I have asked for an opinion has said that
they believe it was motivated by vengeance for
British people are recognising culpability in such great numbers that there is surprisingly little criticism of their view. In fact, the desire to understand the motivation behind the bombings is so widespread it cannot really be called dissent at all. Those who refuse to ask “why” are firmly in the minority.
Seeing Tony Blair and George Bush pontificating solemnly about
protecting our values and our way of life and reiterating the evil nature of
the terrorists, ignores the simple fact that in terms of numbers of victims
It was with weary resignation that my family and I, watching the ludicrous, irony free pronouncements about the abhorrence of violence and killing, finally turned to each other and laughed out loud.