Monday, 18 January 2010

Having centimetres but seeing inches

Comment is Free over at The Guardian, but it looks like they’re doling out the intelligent argument with such miserliness that it must be as rare and valuable as Planet Pandora’s unobtainium. They’re acting as if they have to prise each Clue out of the dead cold hand of a corporate Accountant’s recently dragon-mangled corpse.

A fearful lack of proportion in airports and battlefields the west pursues security with no regard for the cost to citizens of foreign lands

Peter Preston, Sunday 17 January 2010 19.30 GMT

Suppose you're a young ­Pakistani doctor with a practice in Doncaster or ­Detroit. And suppose you're heading back to work after a holiday in Lahore. Then stop supposing: you'll need to get to the airport very early indeed. Wrong passport, wrong nationality. Expect to be stopped, searched and scanned. Fear maximum hassle. So why not fill in the time by pondering simple concepts, like proportionality?

Or suppose you’re a British-born Muslim doctor who decides to skip the inconvenience of parking a walk away from the catering facilities of Glasgow Airport and you decide instead to park right there in the lobby and have a barbecue instead?

Of course, we white racists’ utterly unfounded prejudice isn’t just against Muslim Doctors: why, we’ve got it in for engineers, too.

Must be from some subtle childhood trauma or other capitalist trick, all this engineer hatred. Call it Meccano Envy , or the Lego Complex.

And speaking of things from Denmark… Well, for some reason that’s all the Somalis slap bang in our evil laser sights for no reason at all, the poor lambs.

On one hand, all this sudden conflation of inspection and interrogation is down to one man, a 23-year-old Nigerian who couldn't set fire to his underpants.

Let’s look at that in slow motion, shall we? “…a 23-year-old Nigerian who couldn't set fire to his underpants…” What seems at first sight to a Guardian writer and his lip-synching readers to be the harmless buffoonery of a sad, sad man actually looks like ”Tried to set a fire in a pressurized aircraft that was full of civilians high above the Earth.”

I don’t know how well the Nigerian long-distance track team is expected to do in the London 2012 Bankruptcy Sale Olympics, but Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab seems to have been in training for the Ten Thousand Meter Plummet – and making a truly international, diverse and inclusive event of it: like a charity marathon but with shallow craters filled with liquefied Infidels.

Lawks! What a silly little clown he was!

Cue Messrs Brown, Obama and sundry leaders of the west buying more costly surveillance kit, announcing more nerve-fraying terminal delays and ­getting anxious about Yemen.

‘Anxious is when your kid is five minutes late home from the end of term dance.

‘Anxious’ is wondering if she did enough revision to get Twelve Triple AAA Starred Distinctions with Oak Leaf Clusters in her GCSEs that prove to an employer she can count to twenty without having to use a laminated desk-aid.

‘Anxious’ is wondering if there will be enough cash left over to take the family on holiday this year.

‘Anxious’ is not about knowing if a savage country is planning to send killers against our civilian populations with explosives and preparing to do something constructive about it: that is the first duty of government. (Even before providing lifelong welfare spending and carbon neutrality.)

And, on the other, cue the figures from Pakistan's own lousy 2009 as our doctor waits in line: 3,021 innocent ­civilians and soldiers killed by terrorist bombs – carnage far worse than Afghanistan endures. Does the family he left behind in Punjab live in fear? Of course. Markets, mosques, shops, hotels are all Taliban targets – and the violence is growing. President Asif Ali Zardari talks democracy and defiance. The army carries the fight into some terrorist areas. But you can't escape a feeling of mounting crisis, and a future without hope.

And the solution is? More targeted assassinations against the Taliban leadership? Wall-to-wall western military support in the attacks on ‘militant’ held areas?

The war on terror? Here it is. The casualties of that war? Here they are. And now, as spotlights swings towards Sana'a and political packs yelp excitedly about Yemeni training camps, Pakistan's problems suddenly fade from view.

No, really, let’s not leave the ‘stans alone – let’s raise a few more infantry regiments, buy some working helicopters and good coms kit and send the mountain troops up into the hills to harass them all winder long and then let the air forces bomb and the artillery shell them into mincemeat when they are chased out in Springtime? That’s a good idea? There are local education authorities and an Environment Agency and all kinds of talking-shop wafflers we need to get rid of and the cash can be better spent keeping Pakistan’s bomb safe from the Taliban. That your bright plan, Mister Guardian?

Other countries must hear the tough talk. One pair of pants and the west wallows in hysteria..

A mental illness caused by the womb’s intemperate behaviour when deprived of many comforts.

Funny how the language of feminism just isn’t up to the job when you have national self-defence to belittle.

…before ordering stops, searches and profilings for hapless doctors who keep health systems going. One pair of pants against 3,021 violent deaths.

Once again, the reverse angle camera shows up the real event here.

PP is talking about proportionality. If it’s one pair of pants, then the authorities would be intemperately harassing trouser-wearers:; from Nike tracky bottoms (the Choice of Champions); to chi-chi chinos on homecoming Brighton sojourners back from San Francisco; to the lower portions of Punjabi suits.

But in fact, the problem wasn’t one pair of pants, but rather yet another crazy Muslim. Take it from a nice clean boy and trouser wearer of no distinction whatsoever: pants don’t kill people: people kill people.

Is that what we mean by proportionality?

Well, we’re not writing off the attempted murder of hundred of human beings as a sort of sartorial faux pas.

Of course, 9/11 and 7/7 both have a bearing on this equation, along with outrages from Madrid to Mumbai. Nobody's pretending there isn't a threat.

Except for all the people who are pretending that there isn’t a threat, of course, but PP likes some of them.

But it's a threat to put in a commonsense context.

It’s a threat by Muslims acting in the name of Islam according to their holy books.

It's also a threat turned almost daily into reality around many beleagured parts of our neurotic world.

By Muslims acting in the name of Islam according to their holy books.

There is a sort of war being fought out there – designed to keep "home­lands" safe at whatever becomes the necessary cost to foreign lands. Ask Brown: Why are we in Afghanistan? – and he talks about UK shopping centres, UK railway stations, UK airports.

Please don’t laugh at the back, but this may be something to do with Brown being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. UK PM he is. It’s his job.

Kinda parochial of him I know, but even his former boss never made it higher up the internationalist food-chain as the Peace Envoy to the Middle East, in much the same way Michael Moore is Health and Fitness Envoy to the Convenience Store industry.

Meanwhile, somewhere overhead, another drone misses its target, another village where women and children live turns to rubble.

Well, we’d better aim them better, hadn’t we?; or else pack up and let the Taliban imprison the surviving women in sweat, heat-stroke burqa’d hell for ever – or until they take Pakistan’s Bomb, in which case even the Guardian might become…well, anxious.

Let's see things through other eyes: what our doctor may see. An Afghan problem, first financed and fuelled by the west.

Ah, the myth of Rambo. The Taliban and Al Q are all ex-CIA thugs hired to kill peace-loving Soviet invaders. Ronald Reagan wrote the Koran.

I feel almost young again just to hear that one.

A problem that's grown because of oil and corruption and all the bad things that have happened in Saudi.

Such as Muslims acting in the name of Islam according to their holy books.

No thanks to the west again.

He’s right.

We should have marched into Saudi and the Gulf states and Iraq and converted the lot to Christianity at gunpoint when we had the chance.

A problem, from Baghdad to Kabul, rooted in imported chaos.

Imported by Muslim conquerors acting in the name of Islam according to their holy books.

A problem that brought 12,600 violent deaths to Pakistan last year. And now the stop and search becomes almost frenzied. Pakistanis, Saudis, Yemenis, Somalis, Nigerians, Muslims. Watch the watch lists grow.

Actually, if we could tell the Muslims from the animists and Hindus and thirty varieties of Christians, it would be useful. The list would shrink. Somehow, however, I don’t think that PP means that if we could do this, we should.

We moved to stop your average high-street stop and search because of the discrimination it signalled and anger it caused.

And many criminals have been laughing at the police ever since: hiding behind Scarman, McPherson and all.

Now judges in Strasbourg feel the same about section 44 of the Terrorism Act. These things can't be random. They need specific cause –

Such as almost all the terrorism being caused by Muslims acting in the name of Islam according to their holy books.

…otherwise the resentment it fuels is simply out of all proportion.

Resentment isn’t available to white natives of European countries who’ve had their inner cities changing into foreign lands on purpose by the like of PP and his flabby little organ. We’ve got to suck it up and play the game.

And so, today, is the kind of targeted airport regime taking shape after Detroit on Christmas day.

It says whole nations and religions…

Specifically Muslims acting in the name of Islam according to their holy books.

…are suspect. It says war over there only ­matters because of what it involves over here.

Look. If you want to let the RAF bomb the crazy bastards because they’re vile to Afghans and Iraqis and Israelis and Pakistanis, then fine, too.

But I don’t hear PP calling for anything at all like that.

It seeks to keep jets safe as they fly over lands where thousands die. Does our doctor make such connections as he queues and strips? Does he feel one of us, or one of them?

It may depend on whether he’s a Muslim acting in the name of Islam according to its holy books.

It's worth asking. Too simple? Of course. But not so simple that proportionality plays no part.

Let’s only target the people who want to destroy the West by terrorism and blackmail and by inspiring appeasement. Only them. You can spot them by their religion. Then sort the killers out form the weak sisters and the genuinely peace-loving majority by common sense and good intelligence. And don’t bother looking at anyone else.

Proportionate enough for you?

Picture from here.


Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Peter Preston? Isn't that the Peter Preston, Guardian Editor and volunteer for the KGB?

North Northwester said...

Ah, that explains the non-existence of fault in any of the West's enemies. My bad. I just thought he was a common-or-garden Special Needs Liberal.


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