Thursday, July 07, 2005

Why attack the victims?

Right now, the popular theory about the London bombing is this:

A) The incident was the work of al-Qaida, because the organization said in an online letter that it was retaliating for Tony Blair's unwillingness to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fair enough. Evidence seems to support that up to this point. But then there's theory B, currently making the rounds of the right:

B) Britons who blame Tony Blair's policies for the bombing are not only wrong, but obviously apologists for the terrorists.

I've seen right-wing blogs accusing bombing victims of "parroting Muslim talking points" because they blamed Tony Blair for making his country a terrorist target. So just because some victims of the attacks want to examine the root causes of the attack (causes that most people have accepted as true), they're suddenly al-Qaida sympathizers?

It seems to me that, instead of accusing these still-shocked victims of pimping for the very people who tried to obliterate them, we could at least give their allegations a fair audience. Indeed, I admire a country whose people can be hurt on their home turf and still have the nerve to question the reason on their own terms.

No amount of Blair worship or gleeful anti-Muslim prejudice is going to fix a thing. We need real answers and real solutions.


gambitch said...

Ian, I see you've switched to alphabetical order!

Back to topic, perhaps you might point out which country's right wing is spouting Theory B. Because at the moment it looks like both the Tories and the Lib Dems in Britain are rallying around the Labour government, and neither of the three parties have - at least according to the BBC - come forward to call said people unpatriotic.

Bush and Blair may be buddies on the war in Iraq, but as the run-up to G8 has shown, they can be very different creatures in their political beliefs.

Ian McGibboney said...

Right-wing America is spouting Theory B, of course. We're the ones spouting charges of unpatriotism, because we've forgotten that criticizing a leader's policies is not necessarily criticizing the country. The tripartisan (what a word!) support in Britain is exactly the real patriotism that we so desperately lack here at the moment.

gambitch said...

Probably because they're not trying to remake Britannia the way the Republican core is trying to remake America?

Or will Tommo call me for being out of order on that one?

Ian McGibboney said...

I think that's it in a nutshell. The United Kingdom seems to accept itself for what it is no matter who's in power. They acknowledge that they're going to bicker and fight in Parliament, and that dissenting opinions are good and make for excellent balance. At the end the day, though, they all go home or to the pub as fellow countrymen (--people?). No talk of red or blue there. Must be nice.

gambitch said...


Big downer the very next day after they won the Olympic bid, though. Then again it might be just ginger tea to sober them into doing a really good job of it.

Kinda makes me think - what if both these things (winning the Olympic bid and getting bombed in the tube) happened to New York instead?

YatPundit said...

What I can't help but wonder is why the counter-terror people in the UK blew this so badly. They've been at this for decades. Forget the wingnuts, if there's a systemic problem in identifying these terrorists, it needs to be addressed.

Murph said...

Well, I think that even if Britain were not involved in the war in Iraq, something like this would still have happened. Iraq is a cause in the air, but certainly not the only one. Radical Islamists have a long memory, and Britain and the US have a long history of taking a dump around the world. I think saying they're doing this because of Iraq is the same thing as saying that Bin Laden endorsed John Kerry. In other words, when you're an evil western society and they are radicals looking to restore the caliphate, the details don't mean shit.

Ian McGibboney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ian McGibboney said...

I know that, Murph, I'm just trying to make sense of it. I'm not one to say, "Well, this is always going to happen so we might as well just accept it."

Murph said...

But does "making sense of it" implicitly mean looking for fault in the victim? This isn't going as far as telling a rape victim that she was asking for it (hardly even in the ballpark), but it is the same sport.

I'm also hardly saying that this is something we should accept and get over. What I'm saying is that we cannot think that every time Westerners are attacked that it is because of something we did and something we should change.

Now, before I come off sounding like a right-winger, you know I'm no fan of the Iraq war, but it would be disasterous to withdraw. It would be well-advised to rethink tactics and operations most certainly, but the fact is that our President made us a shit sandwich and now we have to eat every bite. Pulling out of Iraq will not stop attacks on Westerners, nor will capturing Bin Laden or Zarchowi (sp?).

Ian McGibboney said...

Murph, I don't know where you got the idea that I'm blaming the victim. In fact, that's the diametric opposite of what I'm saying. The right is doing it.

And I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you that we shouldn't consider why they did it. It doesn't mean we have to change our lifestyles or anything. What it means is that, if the terrorists say that the attack is because of Tony Blair's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should at least not ignore that.

The core of their attacks is that we don't give a damn about why they do it. Is saying that a sign of appeasement? Is the sad fact that terror never ends (something we knew going in) an excuse not to investigate this attack?

gambitch said...

Murph, that'll be Zarqawi. (Hard C's in Romanized Arabic are spelt with Q.)

I think the point is that the Arab world's dislike for the West - and what consequently is being tapped to fuel extremist fundamentalist hatred - cannot be reduced to a single event or action. It's not about oil alone, it's not about Iraq alone. It's a cultural thing that unfortunately goes back in time into the Crusades, and perhaps even further.

To use a movie title, it's a series of unfortunate events that led us to where we are. One by one these all add up.

Now unfortunately that's a bit more complicated than "Mum, did the boy next door hate me because I didn't let him play with my remote-controlled helicopter?" So solving one aspect of the problem doesn't actually constitute solving them all.

So yes, I'd agree with Ian, the Western world should consider why the terrorists do such a thing, and why the Arab world seems to be happy enough to not crack down hard on them the way we wish them to. The sad thing is that the list of causes might be frighteningly long, and resolving them may require dialogue between the two parties that is difficult to do simply because each side may find it difficult to treat the other as someone with an equal right as he.

It's not as easy as just trying to force the installation of democratic regimes in Arabia. It's also not as pleasureable to the conqueror-wannabe ego.

But it might well cost us fewer lives and less military equipment to replace.

Hel Fire said...

I have heard people on TV saying things like "since 9/11, we knew london was bound to be attacked by terrorists, it was not a question of IF it would happen, but WHEN." It makes me wonder, if they knew this sort of thing would happen, then why didnt they do more to prevent it? there were fewer police here in london than there were a month ago cos they had moved loads of them to Scotland cos of the G8 summit, and they took the security level in london down from the highest level to the second-highest level. If there were more "bobbies on the beat" maybe the bombings could have been prevented. I'm not taking sides or blaming Blair for it, but i think it is unfair that he and the other 7 G8 leaders get so much more protection from terrorism than ordinary people. There's about 8 million londoners, who is worth more, 8 world leaders or 8 million civilians? does 1 world leader deserve more protection than a million citizens? i saw some police out and about on the day before the attacks, but considering the fact that london was a "prime target" and it was the first day of the G8 meeting, there weren't that many - i think they could have had more. i went to a concert in london 2 years ago and there was tons of security, police everywhere and particularly in hyde park where the gig was, and there seemed to be a higher density of police in london on that day than on the day of the G8 summit.

Ian McGibboney said...

"Who is worth more, 8 world leaders or 8 million civilians?"

I think you answered your own question, Hel Fire. Security priorities in this day and age--particularly given the scenarios you've described--are skewed beyond belief.