Look! Over there! It's the Goodyear blimp!
Yep - our government does seem to think we're that stupid. Or at least that enough of us are that stupid to make the old misdirection trick worth trying.
Yesterday, Charles Clarke launched his new Terrorism Bill, packed full of illiberal nonsense designed to grap our civil liberties by the hair, put a flick-knife to their throat and then skullfuck them mercilessly until their tears mingle with their blood as they curl, whimpering and broken, on the floor of the windowless cell to which Clarkie-boy has confined them for three months without trial thanks to his wonderful new discretionary powers.
But it's been a couple of months since the nasty terrorists last tried anything, and since then there was a spot of bother with some foreign geezer getting capped by the police. Despite their best efforts, all the "he was running - he must have had something to hide" and "he was an eeevil illegal immigrant, and that's nearly as bad as a terrorist" bullshit that was spouted was unable to hide the truth, and certain sections of society had begun to question the need for intrustive new laws. Yes, there were those relatives of that one London bomb victim who were screaming for
revenge justice who the Sun managed to uncover - but they were conspicuously unsupported by any other grieving families.
"I know," says Clarke, "We need to get everyone scared again! Then they'll give me the power to whack any of them in gaol whenever I feel like it!"
Sure enough, yesterday morning, a few hours before the Terrorism Bill was unveiled - and conveniently just in time to make The Today Programme - seven Algerians were hauled off to the clink under powers granted by the last Terrorism Act. As Curious Hamster pointed out yesterday, it's hardly very subtle... (Meaders, posting over at Lenin's, has more details.)
But it goes further than that. After all, the government can't risk pissing off Muslims or be seen to be focussing all its attention on eeevil Islamists, can it? That'd be discriminatory and stuff...
So back on Sunday there appeared the story that Israeli Major General Doron Almog had had a warrant issued for his arrest for war crimes he is alleged to have committed in the Gaza strip. Somehow he managed to escape being locked up and put on trial. By, erm... staying on a plane at the airport, which the British security forces sent to arrest him somehow neglected to enter...
But shhh! Details aren't important - there was a warrant to arrest an Israeli General for being nasty to Palestians, and Palestinians are, like, Muslim and stuff!
See? The government don't just go after eeevil Muslims - they can go after eeevil Israelis as well - and for war crimes against Muslims, no less! See how they don't discriminate? See how it isn't a war against Islam? Excellent! Now, back to putting out our crappy anti-terror legislation.
And then, as if by magic, along comes Friday evening - the best possible time to leak news you don't want anyone to find out about (well, other than the afternoon of September 11th 2001, obviously), as the Saturday papers have all gone to the printers, the Sunday papers are pretty much done, and no one really bothers with the news over weekends anyway.
Sure enough, the arrest warrant has been withdrawn. It's served its PR purpose. Sorted. (And in any case, they couldn't leave it outstanding too long because Israel was already starting to kick up a fuss - they'd noticed, after all, that saying Almog's order to demolish Palestinian houses was a war crime kind of... erm... suggests that much of Israeli policy for the past few years has also been criminal... And we can't piss off Israel now, can we? Except temporarily, when it suits us, that is.)
I hope that the 22% of you who voted for these dickheads are pleased with yourselves.