Sound and fury

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So after it was stated that we were going to defeat evil perversions of Islam by “the force of reason“, and then that actually we should just amend the Human Rights Act and deport them, or maybe charge them with treason… now maybe a rebranding is in order. I knew there was some reason I mentioned “Brand America” earlier on.

The government is looking at whether communities would welcome having US-style hyphenated terms such as Asian-British or Indian-British.

It is among a “range of ideas” being discussed with Muslim and other groups across the country, Home Office Minister Hazel Blears told the BBC.

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I’ve been in these sorts of “discussion sessions” myself, in a corporate context. You know, the ones where a bunch of people are told to sit down and talk about things on a blue-sky basis… brainstorm (yes, people still use the word “brainstorm” seriously). You know that whatever suggestions are arrived at will be completely ignored, that the only reason the session is taking place is so that somebody can tick a box saying that there has been consultation, that whatever your boss wants done will just be rubber-stamped afterwards, but you still have to spend the day there, and then find a volunteer to present the results at the next team meeting to people who don’t care.

Generally, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I cope with these affairs by drinking too much coffee, making increasingly insane suggestions with a straight face and eventually taking over the flipchart myself. I think somebody has been doing that here. As the sessions continue, expect to see things like “backpacks to be made transparent” and “free kittens for all” appearing in the news.

At the same time the authoritarian simple-solution mob have to be pandered to, the civil-liberties lot have to be poked a bit, and it’s always good to grab as much power as you can get away with just in case you want it later, so we get proposals about banning , treason charges and good old-fashioned “send ‘em back where they came from” rhetoric, as well as various scare leaks like “tens of thousands of potential mujahideen in the UK – full-scale insurgency – fighting in the streets” from “security sources”. These measures have more relevance to real life in that if they pass they will undoubtedly be used against assorted protestors and trouble-makers for political reasons, but they share with the flipchart rubbish the fact that they have nothing to do with making people safer.

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That’s the common factor here. None of this is to do with making people safer. Nobody can seriously think that deporting a few particularly vocal immigrant preachers and threatening to bang up anyone “condoning terrorism” is going to make any difference, even if we weren’t bothered by freedom of speech implications; they don’t brainwash people into blowing stuff up with mind control rays. They’re not the only people who are saying bad things about the actions of the UK and US. If anything the ones being targetted probably aren’t radical enough.

But none of it is meant to be about making people safer. There aren’t really tens of thousands of mujahideen hiding in basements field-stripping AK-47s blindfolded. The potential threat to the government doesn’t come from bombs and dissidents but from the British public, who may not be very happy with the idea that they may be blown up because of some stuff the government is doing in a foreign country that wasn’t their idea in the first place. That’s who all this is aimed at, the “you are in terrible danger”, the “we are doing everything we can” and the “we must take away freedoms to save them, but don’t worry, we’ll only do it to bad guys”.

Oh, and meanwhile we’re still occupying… I dunno, some country or other somewhere. Not relevant, though, that, is it?


In other blogs: Justin sends a complaint to the Standard about their billboards and receives a reponse of similar inaccuracy to the original story.

1 Comment

  1. kumokasumi Said,

    August 11, 2005 @ 3:47 am

    As the sessions continue, expect to see things like “backpacks to be made transparent” Surely you aren’t opposed to accepting the same amount of responsibility for public safety as inner-city American public high school students? If it’s good enough for our children, by God if it isn’t good enough for the rest of us.