Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Us vs Them, And Them As Well

I wasn't sure whether the ten-year anniversary of the 7th July London bombings is the appropriate time to be posting this kind of thing but, since it was apparently a good enough excuse for Tony Blair to once more ride his personal hobby-horses back into battle, I think it's probably enough for me.

Back then, I remember there being a lot of chat about the bravery of ordinary Londoners in just going about their business under the threat of attack, and it's certainly true that horrific bomb blasts targeting commuters is extremely intimidating stuff. 

There were a lot of loud declarations of collective courage on social media yesterday and if that's really how people feel, it's pretty admirable.  I don't even live in London and yet, idiots blowing up buses and trains is certainly the kind of thing that frightens me.  I don't mind admitting it, even though I'm aware that I'm highly unlikely to be blown up myself.

Nonetheless, I'm reminded that the decision to just get on with it in the face of threats isn't exactly an agonising personal choice.  Your boss isn't going to pay you to take a month off to get over your understandable anxiety, because the only two available options are - work, or starve.

I don't recall hearing that point made once at the time, although it could be that I've just forgotten.

Who knows, maybe the sight of officials proclaiming variations upon "we all stand together" following these types of terrorist outrages gladdens the hearts of the public.  Perhaps it fosters unity and steels people's resolve that We will not be defeated by Them.

For me though, watching Tony yet again declaring that he knows better than the bombers why they did the terrible things that they did, and calling for us to gird our loins and blow more shit up, reminds me now of what I thought then - that none of us had any choice other than to get on with it in the face of the bombers' murderous cruelty, and the then-Prime Minister's worrying lunacy. 

Assuming that I'm right about that, then it didn't feel much like Us vs Them, so much as it was Us vs Them, And Them As Well.  Certainly, you get the feeling that both believed in their own crazy way that they were doing God's work, and both seem to have been entirely impervious to reason or humility*.

*Addendum - In writing this, I went back to the Quail-In-Terror-Mortals video made by one of the bombers, in which he announces that the attacks were some kind of dip-shitted revenge for the occupation of Iraq.  Ignoring for now the utter idiocy of this idea - murdering these innocent civilians, to make up for the killing of those = profit - what strikes me now is how utterly childish the standard Jihadi clamour for public notoriety is.  

Khan's finger-waggy lecture was meant to intimidate, and no doubt succeeded to a certain extent, but it's notable that it resembles nothing more than it does an audition video for Britain's Got Talent - like a teenager singing a Katy Perry song into a hairbrush, or something.  

Here, we have a man yapping into a camera in the firm belief that he is striking a blow against the enemies of God, entirely oblivious to his own chihuahuan ridiculousness.  He says he wants justice, when it looks to me like what he wants is to get his stupid face on the front page of the Sun.  And he certainly got that.

Truly, a viciously stupid, boring little twat of the first water.


the other john said...

You've not mentioned the "Blitz Spirit(TM)" which seems obligatory when referring to 7/7, as stoical Londoners stoically go about their normal lives, in a true display of stoicism.

I do half remember a vox pop with a commuter the day after the attack when the reporter asked if they were scared or worried and the answer did come back along the lines of well, if I don't go to work I don't get paid so I don't really have much choice in the matter.

There was also another commuter who remarked it was all very well for Tony Blair et al to encourage us all to carry on as normal and not worry because then the terrorists have won but they were safely behind several lines of police protection officers armed with sub-machine guns.

Both sentiments generally shared with the commuters I was with.

Anonymous said...

I was a Londoner going stoically about my business during after 7/7, in central areas which might have been the target of further attacks. I didn't think I was being brave at all - because I wasn't at all scared of being blown up. I never had any doubt that going on the tube or a bus was as safe as staying at home. So I may have been foolish, but I wasn't brave! And I wish politicians wouldn't bloviate about the bravery of the likes of me!

Anonymous said...

Blair's hobbyhorses boil down to saying that we should do more, we should be firmer we should use more force. This isn't a strategy - it is just a set of talking points. And as a number of commenters pointed out when a Conservative Minister recently flew the kite of the UK taking part in bombing in Syria, the objective is to create a situation where they can accuse their opponents of being weak.

This is part of the dynamic that created the invasion of Iraq. Using force against would show that The West was serious and had plenty of firepower and the terrorists would creep back into their caves. Oddly enough they stoically carried on and waited for opportunities to come their way.