Friday, August 05, 2005

Tony versus Terrorism

Blair's statement on anti-terrorism measures. Mostly fairly typical, platitudinous stuff, and all to be expected. A few bits stand out for confusion, however. But I'll keep this brief as I'm knackered and have work to do.

First up, people will now be able to be deported for "fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence". All very well and good. But considering the government's line over the last few weeks has been "if you say Iraq is a reason for why London was attacked, you're giving excuses for and justifying the attacks" it's a tad worrying. What, exactly, counts as "justifying" these days? Although I seem to be getting into trouble every time I link to Talk Politics these days, this post may help to point the way to some of my concerns.

Is suggesting that an action - which has led to Al Quaeda's second in command and one of the 21st July bombers explicitly listing it as a reason for their terrorism - may be a contributing cause of the terrorist attacks a justification or validation? According to the rhetoric of the government and some of its supporters, it would appear so. So should we start deporting everyone who suggests a link between Iraq and the London attacks? Again, from the rhetoric of the government it would appear so.

There's also the specific reference to "The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK."

Does that include George Galloway? How about Gerry Adams, who Blair had a chat with just the other day? Is it going to become illegal to say that you can understand that in the Israel/Palestine conflict Israel has the military advantage, so Palestinian methods are understandable, as Ken Livingstone (a member of Blair's own party) did not long ago? (A statement which did not, despite it's rapid spinning by his critics, actually condone Palestinian terror tactics, but as that spinning proved could be interpreted as such.) Considering the part which states "For those who are British nationals and who cannot be deported, we will extend the use of control orders. Any breach can mean imprisonment" will Livingstone and Galloway find themselves presented with control orders?

I surely can't also be the only one to find "Should legal obstacles arise, we will legislate further, including, if necessary amending the Human Rights Act" a cause for concern? We all know what happened the last time the Law Lords pointed out the flaws of some Blairite terrorism legislation - rather than just lock up foreigners without trial, we can now ALL be locked up without trial. (Something which could get worse with the mention of "a way of meeting the police and security service request that detention pre-charge of terrorist suspects be significantly extended.")

Then there's the clampdown on freedom of speech, which could also lead to innocent people getting screwed: "Once the new grounds take effect, there will be a list drawn up of specific extremist websites, bookshops, centres, networks and particular organisations of concern. Active engagement with any of these will be a trigger for the home secretary to consider the deportation of any foreign national." So if you have, in your browser's history, a visit to an Islamic fundamentalist website, does that count as "active engagement"? Could following a blog link to a statement from a terror cell count? How about unwittingly visiting a proscribed bookshop, or reading a proscribed book (an idea I find fundamentally abhorrent)? Or will we all be able to take the Pete Townsend "research" defence?

You've also got to wonder, when you read things like "the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office are compiling an international database of those individuals whose activities or views pose a threat to Britain's security" why on earth they hadn't done that years ago. How can you defend the country if you don't even know who our enemies are? If they don't know who our enemies are, this surely means that they've been able to enter the country with valid passports for years - making all the guff about both ID cards and illegal immigration sound even more like a load of bollocks.

There are naturally also some valid statements, like "Cases such as Rashid Ramda wanted for the Paris metro bombing 10 years ago and who is still in the UK whilst France seeks extradition, are completely unacceptable", and a good part of what Blair says can't really be denied as being relatively sensible anti-terror measures. The thing about recalling parliament in September is also welcome (although the qualifier "[if] the right consensus is achieved" has slightly sinister undertones...) Even bits some people may not expect me to welcome I do think need to be said, namely "coming to Britain is not a right. And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life. Those that break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people, have no place here."

Nonetheless, there is also a lot to cause concern. A lot of vagueness which needs to be made specific. A lot of things which could easily be turned to political ends, rather than to security means.

As for the statement that "The rules of the game are changing", it's understandable (which is not to say that I condone it, please note) - it's just rather disappointing. What happened to "We will not allow violence to change our society and values"?


Blogger Eric S said...

The last thing Nosemonkey said before launching into his longest post in days:

"But I'll keep this brief as I'm knackered and have work to do."

Blog addiction can be treated, you know... ;)

8/05/2005 03:25:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Good post, Nosemonkey. I find the further curtailing of free speech incredibly worrying: did people around the world not used to look up to Britain as the last of the blasé, unflappable Brit?

We are turning into a nation of hysterical idiots, and we are ruled by the worst of them.

It's only a matter of time before our rulers are holding Nazi*-style book-burnings...


*I am not actually comparing New Labour to the Nazis; I'm not getting into that debate again...!

8/05/2005 03:39:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Too right - I deliberately avoided any Nazi references... It must be said though - banning bookshops? What in fuck's name are they doing?

8/05/2005 03:44:00 pm  
Blogger Eric S said...

"A lot of vagueness which needs to be made specific."

Yes, that's the key. I personally think it's a good idea to ship out violence-inciting extremists, but the language of the law must be completely clear.

You mention just about everything that *must* be addressed if anti-terrorism measures like this are put in place. Security is important, to be sure. If you find it necessary to create a Ministry of Love to ensure security and order, though, then something is wrong...

8/05/2005 04:23:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

"The check's in the mail."
"I won't do it in your mouth."
"Islam is peace."

To claim that the dissaffected Muslim youth that are blowing up all and sundry in the name of their unreformed faith is caused by the invasion of largely secular Iraq is absurd. It could be the trigger that boils this dissatisfaction over but it did not cause it any more than doing nothing in Iraq would have relieved it.

Blaming an isolated incident for the forment in the world's most backward religion ignores about 8 centuries or so of history. Whose fault is it that Islam has been incapable of absorbing and rationalizing not just Western civilization but science and modernism itself. When a bunch of Catholic priests fucked a bunch of altar boys in the ass we put them in jail, as they so dearly deserved. To it's shame the church could not be trusted to deal with the problem. When a bunch of imams, or reverends, or whatever they call themselves these days, fuck a bunch of believers in the head we're supposed to give them a pass? Trust islam huh! They'll work it out.

Read Rushdie, and Hitchens, and many of the others who identified this religious freak show years, even decades ago. Islamofascism is a catchy but poor term in many ways. Fascists had a clue. This is an amorphous hatred that grows in the souls of people who see what they feel is their own superior and preordained way of life trampled and beaten by the march of science and progress, and whose only answer is to blame those who have adapted better and benefited the most from it. It's what happens when people who are told they are the chosen of the deity find themselves and their countries at the bottom of the food chain. They blame whatever is convenient, the cause du jour, so to speak, for their violent and antisocial actions, whether it be Palestine, Bali, Iraq, or the Phillipines. It would be too simple to blame the idiotic beliefs that helped get them there, and will keep them there.

When you blame Iraq for the attacks you absolve yourself, your government, your fellow citizens, and your attachment to mushy multiculturalism for any reponsibility. Instead you blame BusHitler and America, in no certain order, and I would guess Tony Blair by proxy. This is a real shock, since blaming America is the quasi-Immaculate Conception of this queer secular dogma, superceded only by the quasi-Resurrection of blaming the Jews. If you really want out then for Allah/Jehovah/God/Bail's sake take the advice of London's mayor and get the hell out. America won't declare war, and Islam won't declare peace.

Neither of our nations have been hurt enough yet to really get serious about this threat. Before the blitz Luftwaffe crews shot down over Britain were given full military burials. Such foolishness was dispensed with when the bombs really started dropping and the violence escalated to the level of survival. I fear that will happen. There is only so much damage that an individual can do with a sword or a rifle, but we live in a new age. I hope it never comes to that, but I think we might be into a cycle of attack followed by ever more violent reprisal. It will eventually be resolved as these things always are. The only questions are who and how many.

8/05/2005 04:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Alex Wilken said...

The banning bookshops thing is an interesting one. I share your sense of unease, but... by what principle is it acceptable to make it illegal for people to say things that incite terrorism, but not for them to write them? Why should those two media of communication be treated differently?

Alternatively, perhaps the writing of pro-terrorism books should be illegal, but reading them should not be; in that case, what about the bookshops, which fall somewhere in between?

8/05/2005 04:55:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Ronnie - saying that Iraq is a factor doesn't deny there being other - perhaps more important - factors. But denying that Iraq is a factor at all strikes me as rather silly. Banning people from claiming Iraq to be a factor because that is considered to be justifying terrorism strikes me as little more than the censorship of uncomfortable political opinions.

Alex - it's a tricky one, to be sure. Hence the need for specifics. It's got me rather confused: I truly dislike the idea of censoring anything, but accept that outlawing incitement to violence is a sensible measure, but that means censorship which I don't want. Very tricky indeed.

Which is probably why I largely snipe from the sidelines rather than come up with solutions...

8/05/2005 05:04:00 pm  
Blogger Eric S said...

It's actually a very tricky issue.

It's rarely going to be as easy as saying "George, you're being deported because the terrorist who bombed the Tube specifically cited your speech and/or writings as the reason he went ahead and blew himself up".

Specifics and precise language are required to define what qualifies as 'incitement', but it's not always particularly easy to spell out. Obviously, something like openly calling for people to martyr themselves would qualify. But what if a somewhat less radical Islamic cleric says "I oppose the unjust war in Iraq, it must be resisted!" In itself, nothing too serious. But say one of his flock takes this to mean "blow yourself up on the Tube". Is it incitement, because the cleric's speech directly led to violence?

There are a lot of grey areas that strike me as being very difficult to clear up.

8/05/2005 05:31:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

There is always balance and contradiction in these sorts of issues and they require a real leavening of common sense, which is often lacking in the judicial arena. The now cliched saying by Justice Holmes that freedom of speech does not include yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater sums up some of the quandaries pretty well.

It's really the essence of free speech to have these discussions, though I doubt they will ever be free of inherent contradictions and subjective value judgements (Marxist would call it the dialectic). It's a principle, not an immutable law of nature.

Nosey... I totally reject Iraq as a "reason" for the bombings. Remove the underlying causes and it's an irrelevance. People who are assimilated into and respect a social order do not kill their fellow citizens because their medieval world view has been violated. Could it be a convenient excuse, or a trigger to set off more or less inevitable actions? Sure. However, I don't really think that Britain has descended or will ever descend to a point where anyone would be expelled from the country for expressing such an opinion.

And as I've said before don't shy away from making Nazi comparisons. In US politics it seems that everyone will be accused of being a Nazi for fifteen minutes or so. Godwin is dead; both literally (I think) and figuratively. The whole premise that these were the most awful people to ever walk the earth was disproved multiple times before the end of the century. A few more Stalin's, Mao's, Amin's, Pol Pots, and various and sundry Kim's et al and we might eventually see the Nazis as moderate murdering fascists.

8/05/2005 07:23:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...


Here's an example of modern Islam.

Nuff said. Good work boys. Tomorrow we'll discuss the Crusades.

You can't make this stuff up.

8/05/2005 07:36:00 pm  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

I totally reject Iraq as a "reason" for the bombings.

Then I couldn't disagree with you more. I'm not saying that Iraq is the only (or even the most important) factor, and I am certainly not saying that Iraq justifies the bombings (it seems to be necessary to make these caveats these days), but there is no possible doubt that the Iraq war (more than almost anything else) has made a large number of British Muslims very, very angry with the government. So when some British Muslims blow themselves (and a lot of innocent Londoners) up, their buddies subsequently announce "that's for Iraq", and then you come along and say that Iraq is not a "reason", I say... "dream on".

8/05/2005 07:37:00 pm  
Blogger Eric S said...

"there is no possible doubt that the Iraq war (more than almost anything else) has made a large number of British Muslims very, very angry with the government."

This is something that interests me, because people always seem to leave it at that, without asking the obvious follow-up question. WHY does the Iraq war anger British Muslims?

The Islamic faith is not being repressed in Iraq--if anything, it's now completely unleashed (for better or worse) from the bonds Saddam kept it under. Exactly what is it about our presence in Iraq that makes British Muslims so very, very angry? Perhaps they would prefer an Iraq untainted by the infidel, with Saddam still in power, happily feeding his opponents into plastic shredders?

This question doesn't seem to be asked very often. It's just left at this simplistic, unhelpful "Muslims are angry about the Iraq war". That's wonderful. Why?

8/05/2005 08:12:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...


You can get very, very, very angry over losing a soccer match, but it does not cause you to go on a murderous, vengeful rampage to kill the fans of your opponents. At least not recently.

Without the inbred and cultivated hatred of the society and yes, the people they are attacking, this level of action is beyond the bounds of dissatisfaction over a puny little war with a largely secular country. Without the incitement of the reactionary, medieval morons who preach that they are witnessing the destruction of their birthright to rule over the infidels do you think that average young men with the luck to be living in Britain would feel the need to destroy their lives and the lives of others over Iraq. Get real man. The government ate their future in Iraq, right. An excuse, not a reason. There is no rational reason.

It's not like they have no other recourse, or were unlucky enough to be born Muslim and female. They are Muslim men living in Britain, not Saudi Arabia, where they would have no rights.

Or maybe it's the virgins!

Even she would make more sense than Iraq... or maybe not.

8/05/2005 08:20:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

"You can get very, very, very angry over losing a soccer match, but it does not cause you to go on a murderous, vengeful rampage to kill the fans of your opponents. At least not recently."

Maybe I should have said "almost nobody" huh.

Could the sex have been that bad. Maybe it's the virgins after all.


8/05/2005 08:38:00 pm  
Blogger D-Notice said...

What else needs to be said other than "Tony Bliar hates our freedom"? :-(

8/05/2005 10:23:00 pm  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

Ronnie - you seem to be arguing that the London bombings are not a rational or reasonable way to express anger about the Iraq war. I agree with you entirely, of course. But that does not change the fact that the maniacs who carried out the bombings did have their motivation for doing so, however irrational and perverted their thinking may be. And one big motivating factor was, beyond doubt, the Iraq war.

Eric S - the first thing to say is that the fact that "the Iraq war (more than almost anything else) has made a large number of British Muslims very, very angry with the government" is simply observable fact. Since you ask I'm happy to have a guess at why it may be true, but that it is true is non-negotiable.

My guess is that British Muslims dislike large numbers of Muslims being killed by their government, in their name. Rightly or wrongly, they see US and UK foreign policy as tantamount to empire-building. They see the lives of Muslims in the middle east being treated as if they are less valuable than those of Americans or British civilians, and since the War on Terror seems to involve the killing of large numbers of non-terrorist Muslims, some of them no doubt suspect that the War on Terror is actually a War on Islam. You don't have to agree with that analysis to see how it might piss them off.

8/05/2005 11:48:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...


If that's the case what about the Muslims in the Balkans. Or don't they count? Don't recall any Pakistani's blowing up trams in Serbia. Or issuing fatwa's to slaughter Serbians all over the world. Pretty selective anger don't you think. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Balkan Muslims are not sharia obsessed fanatics. They practice the most moderate and reformed Islam in the world, mostly due to having to adjust to western thought (read science) and ideals.

By the way, what empire builders stopped that? The one's whose "empire" consists of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and Guam maybe?

We may be arguing semantics here, since I consider the anger over Iraq a symptom of radical Muslim disease and not a direct cause of the violence.

Take a look here for someone who agrees with you on this specific causality, but has other opinions about the root causes.

8/06/2005 12:34:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Just ambling in pissed at two in the morning to say Ronnie old boy - hell, everyone for that matter - these are people who are willing to blow themselves to shit to kill a bunch of other people. If you try to use regular rational thought to work out how their brains work you'll never get anywhere. There is no rationality as we understand it. So you have to try to understand their own twisted take on rationality. To our logic - and this goes for the people who say Iraq was a factor as much as those who deny it - blowing the fuck out of communters is not a valid response to an invasion. To their logic it might be. If you try and apply a constant standard by which we judge all actions, you'll never understand why these dicks do it. In fact, I doubt we'll ever understand it anyway... Doesn't mean it's not worth a pop though.

8/06/2005 02:08:00 am  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Agreed on in principle Nosey. It is a part of Western rational thought to try and figure it, but anything you come up with is short of this very personal insanity. Might as well try to figure Ted Bundy.

So maybe it's the virgins after all. If you use one of the virgins, do you get another from the virgin supply room or are you just screwed with 71.. 70.. 69... 10.. 2.. Oh damn... flat out and all eternity to go.

Can you martyr yourself again cause you're out of virgins? Am I starting to think like these morons?

8/06/2005 03:23:00 am  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...


I guess one of my problems with understanding this eternal virgin thing is my cultural viewpoint. I can't vouch for virginity but this is what we have to put up with at LSU. This is in the spirit of the coming college football season, which is far more important than terrorism or any clash of civilizations.

You have to be above ground to do anything with these. Excuse the Elizabethan costumes but we are a prudish, conservative, religious Red state.

Infidel substitute virgins

And the infidel alumni virgins

Geaux Tigers!!

8/06/2005 03:47:00 am  
Anonymous Phil Hunt said...

people will now be able to be deported for "fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence

Quite right too. Let's make a start by deporting all the Labour MPs who advocated, justified, or validated the invasion of Iraq.

8/06/2005 08:32:00 pm  

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