August 08, 2005

What the terrorists want

One of the most irriating post-7/7 media developments has been the way in which Terrorists have to come to function as a 'bad' big Other, whose demands we are duty-bound to flout. Ordinarily, we are compelled to obey the big Other or to maintain it in ignorance (witness the pre-7/7 situation, in which every breach of social conformity threatened to 'damage London's Olymic bid'). In the case of the bad big Other, we must do exactly the opposite of what it wants. More or less any activity - from the production of hardcore pornography to travelling on public transport - becomes compulsory if its cessation is deemed to be 'what the terrorists want'.

The clamour for MPs to cut short their holidays is as ill thought-out as the legislation they will produce if they continue to sit. What will they do to aid the situation? I think we know. In a spirit of kneejerk authoritarianism they will draft draconian bills that will do nothing to capture or deter any terrorists (on the contary) but which will remain on the statute books to be deployed for dubious and counter-productive purposes at some later date. The statistics from Gary Younge of The Guardian cited by Lenin in his letter from London at Direland make sobering reading: "According to Home Office statistics, 97% of those arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act - a series of draconian measures supposed to thwart the IRA - between 1974 and 1988 were released without charge. Only 1% were convicted and imprisoned More than 700 people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act since September 11, but half have been released without charge and only 17 convicted. Only three of the convictions relate to allegations of extremism related to militant Islamic groups." Think that's only the view of moonbat middle class lefties? Well, here's The Economist, from last week: '[S]tringent measures are already in place in Britain so it is unclear how much reassurance such new laws would give the public. Worse, there is a risk that, if such laws are hastily drawn up and indiscriminately applied, they would further alienate young British Muslims. If so, they could be every bit as counterproductive as some of the measures introduced by past British governments, supposedly to prevent Irish republican terrorism, which only served as a recruiting-sergeant for the IRA.' Also check this, which concludes: "Tony Blair this week vowed that his government would yield 'not one inch' to the terrorists. It just has."


Language watch: note the use of the increasing prevalence of the word 'radicalization' in media discourse. It now officially means, it seems, 'turned into an unreasoning maniac'.

Posted by mark at August 8, 2005 09:48 PM | TrackBack