Sad, not shocking

by Yule Heibel on July 7, 2005

Der Spiegel (also available in an English-language international online edition) has extensive coverage of Thursday morning’s terrorist attacks in London. The magazine also excerpts from a Purported Al-Qaida Letter [that] Claims Responsibility for Bombing, and there’s another page with constantly updated ticker tape reports.

The purported claim of responsibility for the bombing is a despicable rant that asks the “community of Muslims” to “rejoice” because “heroic mujahedeens” managed to attack London. For a start, that’s wrong; they did not attack “London,” they killed and maimed innocent civilians. Nor are the people who did this “heroic,” they are cowardly terrorists. Yet they think they are people who are larger than life, as they boast that Great Britain is now shocked “in the north, the south, west and east.”

It’s saddening, but not shocking.

I know this is irreverent of me, but after reading the gloating rant purportedly written by the terrorists, I flashed on an old Avengers episode, Epic, set in swinging 60s London. In this episode, Emma Peel is victimised by a couple of old film stars who, in a bid to create a comeback film called The Destruction of Emma Peel, play a pair of gruesome villains about to kill Mrs. Peel. As he cranks the camera, their equally demented director, Z.Z. von Schnerk, admonishes them to “gloat! gloat, my pretties, gloat over your victim!” They do indeed gloat furiously, but, sotto voce, the ever-cool Mrs. Peel tells them, “Gloat all you want, but just remember, I’m the star of this picture.”

Terror just doesn’t draw the right kind of attention to its cause. The victims will initially be the more compelling stars, wherever they are (in the West, in the Middle East, wherever).

The victims will be more compelling and credible, until, that is, the terrorists manage to become the status quo or get into power. And: if that has already happened, then we have terrorists fighting terrorists, which makes all the rest of us victims, unconscious stars of our own destruction.


Betsy Burke July 7, 2005 at 8:50 pm

I used to ride the London subway for hours in the mid 70s when other bombs were going off frequently. I have always thought the London Tube terribly vulnerable. And I have always thought terrorism was pure cowardice.
Tonight some Italians (Boris Biancheri in particular) asked some good questions: Why are they doing this? He felt that it was to strike the moderate Islamic community in closer proximity to Irag. Hmmm.

Yule Heibel July 7, 2005 at 9:19 pm

It’s definitely also a blow against moderate Muslims. Everyone moderate is getting bashed. If, in America, you question US policy, there’re plenty of fellow compatriots, brainwashed by Bush’s homegrown terrorism known as TWOT (The War On Terror) who’ll call you “unpatriotic.” The terrorists want everyone to do exactly the opposite of what Isabel Hilton recommends in Five Principles for a safer future. Those opposite actions or principles are: 1. Don’t keep the threat in proportion (i.e., blow it all out of proportion, the better to conform to the abrogation of civil liberties; 2. totally inflate the capacities of the terrorist (vs. keeping in mind that they don’t run governments or have major military capabilities) — i.e., inflate the capacities so that civilian populations actually experience an increased sense of being terrorised; 3. Lose your moral advantage: cave in to the terrorists and relinquish your civil rights, your traditions of democracy, etc., all in the name of “safety” and “security” (and “freedom”?) — i.e., discredit democracy at home, do the terrorists’ work for them; 4. make your intelligence service an extension of your foreign and domestic policy (hey, why not?, the spooks are there, may as well put ’em to good propaganda uses — plus, if you do that, you’ll silence those pesky internal troublemakers who might want to tell you a truth you don’t want to hear… I mean, why not get “intelligence” that’s made-to-order?); 5. Finally, by all means let every single rumour (i.e. bits of intelligence that suppose impending doom) drive your policy decisions. Beats flipping a coin, after all. And don’t forget to torture your enemy prisoners — everyone knows that information gained in this way is bound to be spectacular and good for the men’s morale…

See Isabel Hilton for the right-way-around principles here.

So, how do you feel about the mention in the purported Al Qaida statement of Denmark and Italy as close-range upcoming targets?

What a world.

Penelope July 8, 2005 at 3:16 am

I didn’t know any other way to email this news item about the Order of Canada to you, but, loosely, this could be considered to be on topic. It seemed to me to be of interest to you. It certainly is to me.

Yule Heibel July 9, 2005 at 2:35 am

Thanks for that link, Penelope. What a terrible story — I read some of the reports after he was convicted and fined today, and it seems he really doesn’t understand how atrocious his comments were. If he were to say, today, that he’s sorry, the he understood how misguided and bigotted his remarks were, it would be different. But instead, he continues somehow to meld the oppression that aboriginals experienced at the hands of Euro-Canadians with some twisted notion of Hitler Germany having done the “right” thing with its policy of anti-semitic genocide. I don’t know, it’s sad; one would think there’d be some room for counselling here, especially since he’s presumably still in a position to influence younger people.

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