I’m writing this blog on Sunday the 15th of November, just two days after a ‘terrorist’ attack in Paris killed over 130 innocent civilians.
In the days that have followed, the media has been awash with reactions; expressing utter contempt for the perpetrators as well as compassion for the victims. Pretty much every single post in my Facebook feed relates to the Paris attacks. People who wouldn’t usually dream of making a political comment on social media have edited their profile pictures so they appear in the colours of the French tricolour.
I have three issues with this:
My first issue is that the outpouring of grief is totally disproportionate to the crime, given that much worse injustices which take place every day around the world without any such responses. My second issue is that everyone seems to forget that these attacks are the direct result of military interventions our own soldiers have carried out; attacks which have caused far more death and destruction than any so called ‘terrorist’ attack. And my third issue is that the political classes will, if this hysteria continues, use these attacks as an excuse to take away yet more of our liberties and freedoms without anyone noticing...
There was barely a sound, in the mainstream media or on social media, when dozens of people died after a bomb went off in Lebanon last week. Most people would be surprised if you told them that three twenty-two year olds were murdered by the IDF in Palestine on the same day as the Paris attacks. Yet everywhere you look news of the Paris attacks hits you in the face.
Is this because the Paris attacks were the most atrocious thing to happen this week?
Well, ‘no’. Around 113,000 under 5’s will have died in the last seven days. Those deaths could be prevented for a fraction of the USA’s military budget.
But are people crying about little Didier in Nigeria, or little Chinua in Senegal?
Again, ‘no’. Rather than cry for the tens of thousands of children that die needlessly each day, they’re crying for a mere 129 that died in a one-off attack. Of course those people deserve to be mourned too, but let’s not forget that every life matters. We shouldn’t only mourn those people the media tells us to mourn.
I can’t help but think racism has a part to play here: White people in the west care more about white people in the west dying than they do about brown people dying in the Middle East or black people dying in Africa.
But part of me feels that this reaction has been manufactured by the media, to build hysteria, so that we won’t notice, or won’t care, when our governments use these attacks as an excuse to take away yet more of our freedoms…
THE REAL ENEMIES
After mass opposition to the Iraq war, which saw two million people take to the streets, the government reacted. It ensured that red poppies were seen everywhere for two weeks each November, including on the supposedly ‘neutral’ BBC. It created an ‘Arms Forces Day’. It flooded the airwaves with adverts calling soldiers ‘brave’ and ‘heroic’. It trained ex-soldiers as teachers and put them into schools to groom a new generation of militants. It set up cadet units in schools. In short, it did everything it could to turn Britain into a military nation, in which war is not only seem as good but the norm.
Why? “Because we need good British soldiers to fight those evil foreign ‘terrorists’.”
The last government, under the Lib Dem – Tory coalition, then introduced ‘Secret Court’ legislation. This means that the police can now arrest anyone they like, and lock them up for as long as they like. If a case is made against them, the accused is not allowed to attend court. Their lawyers aren’t allowed to see any evidence until the day of the trial. In short, a legal system which for hundreds of years had operated under the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial’ had been abolished, and barely anyone complained.
Why? “Because we need tough legislation to fight those evil ‘terrorists’.”
So-called ‘terror’ is being used as an excuse to militarise our nation and take away our freedoms. And it seems that this Paris attacks are going to be used, yet again, as an excuse to empower the state at the expense of individual liberty.
The government is already making sounds about using the attacks to fast-track a new ‘Snoopers Charter’ which will allow police to spy on the online communications of anyone in Britain, whether they have reason to suspect them of a crime or not. When this comes from a government who also want to revoke the Human Rights Act and sign up to TTIP (which will turn our democracy into a corpotocracy), then it is clear who our real enemies are.
The hysteria that has been manufactured around the Paris attacks is being used as a smokescreen to allow the government to implement yet another draconian piece of legislation. Unfortunately, no-one seems to care.
Amidst all the discussion surrounding the Paris attacks, there has been much talk about the nastiness of ISIS. Apparently they hate everything we stand for, and want to spread Islam across the world. Apparently we should be fighting them to save our way of life.
People seem to forget that we, in the west, have used the World Bank and the IMF, debt and loans, to impose neoliberalism (or ‘Free Market Fundamentalism’ as I like to call it) on the rest of the world. We seem to forget that, having opened up markets, we’ve flooded practically every country on the planet with McDonalds, Starbucks and Dominos. We seem to forget that we’ve bombed democracy into any country whose politics don’t match ours. We seem to forget that, in doing so, we’ve killed more people than any so-called ‘terrorist’, and spread our economic-political system to far more countries than Islam has ever tried to reach.
Why? “Because when we act in this way it’s ‘good’, but when others act exactly the same way it’s ‘evil’.”
The trouble is, when we act in this way it inspires others to fight back: When you push an animal into a corner it’s going to bite you. Such responses are natural.
The attacks in Paris were carried out by ISIS. But ISIS only exist because of our invasion and occupation of Iraq. When we removed Sadam, it provided a political-vacuum into which ISIS grew. We united ISIS’s leadership in Iraqi prisons, and then set them free to fight. We manufacture weapons, which we sell to Saudi Arabia, who pass them onto ISIS. Our invasion and occupation of Iraq left that nation in a state of permanent terror. It left a whole generation determined to fight back.
Despite what much of the media would have us believe, the vast majority of ISIS’s soldiers aren’t Islamic idealists. As this interview with one of them shows, most of them are twenty-somethings who had their adolescence stolen from them when the west attacked their nation. They watched on as British and American soldiers killed over a million innocent civilians. And, like cornered animals, they decided to fight back.
If we really want to stop attacks like the one in Paris, then we’ve got to stop invading foreign nations, and we’ve got to stop killing innocent civilians. We’ve got to stop glorifying the soldiers that carry out those attacks. We can’t afford to call ISIS ‘terrorists’ for killing 132 innocent civilians in Paris, whilst wearing red poppies that glorify British soldiers who’ve helped to kill over a million innocent civilians in Iraq. We can’t afford to be so hypocritical.
Unfortunately, amidst all the horror being expressed with regard the Paris attacks, very few people are making this link. Very few people are blaming the British and American soldiers whose actions inspired the Paris attacks. And until they do, we’ll never learn. We’ll continue to kill innocent civilians in foreign countries. People in those countries will continue to retaliate. We’ll all get very upset, change our Facebook pictures, and hate false enemies. And we’ll all ignore our real enemies; the governments who use these attacks as an excuse to take away yet more of our freedoms.
Come on Great Britain. We’re better than this!!!