fredag 26 maj 2017

Manchester - discussion shut down

It is noticeable that the newspapers have closed down web site discussion on articles about the Manchester bombing. On the Guardian site - the strapline "Comment is Free" now seems ironic - only the most trivial and uncontroversial articles are now open for comment these days.  The Financial Times was more open but has subsequently removed all the comments.

This leaves the field open for conspiracy theories and claims that the authorities knew about the bombing threat and just allowed it to happen, for the sake of having a pretext for imposing tighter controls and surveillance.

However, what we do know, since the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, admitted as much, is that the bomber was known "up to a point" to the British intelligence services and police. Which raises the question of why he was allowed through immigration control without detention and close questioning. This would be difficult politically, since detention of suspects is open to accusations of racial and ethnic profiling.

Perhaps the law needs to be strengthened so that whatever he was known "up to a point" for is made a chargeable offence. That, though, could mean that tens of thousands of people could end up in prison. However, in this case, it now turns out that Islamic terrorism was the family business, so one would have expected that the bomber would have been known more than "up to a point". But if these people are not put out of harm's way, the alternative is the frightening one of allowing them free, when resources are inadequate to keep them under effective surveillance

There is also a refusal to acknowledge the nature of the "extremism" and "radicalisation" which is behind this and similar incidents. Since they are not committed by extremist Methodists or radical Christian Scientists, their actions must be motivated by something to do with the nature of the particular faith when radicalisation leads them to commit acts of terrorism. Radical Catholic men, for instance, become monks and friars. But this beast is rarely named.

It is also why initiatives like "Prevent" are bound to fail; in order to be effective, the beliefs of what is now a significant minority would have to be openly challenged. This is an impossible task when the dominant belief in society is no belief at all, leaving it impotent when it comes to presenting counter arguments. The widespread belief in nothing at all also makes it difficult for people, including opinion-formers, to understand the power of beliefs and the risks of having a community within society which holds to beliefs which are potentially dangerous.

This incomprehension is a problem peculiar to western countries which have not previously had Muslim communities in their midst; if you talk to Christians from countries like Syria and Iraq, they will spell out what they have had to deal with for centuries.

If there is any conspiracy, it is one of silence based on fear of giving offence, of being confrontational and of being accused of racism. We will pay a heavy price in the end. Actions by the authorities will be useless. And there is a limit to what the public will tolerate. People are not fooled. As Morissey has said, the bomber was an extremist. Extremist what? Extremist rabbit? Morrisey was accused of making a dumb statement, but that accusation only serves to increase the gap between the pulsillanimous media and politicians, and what is plain as daylight to everyone else.

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