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Home > Culture and Society

Idiots: They will never be beaten

15 July 2005

A sizeable part of the world’s problems are not the result of complex socio-political, economic or historical factors. It’s simply the fact that people are idiots. How else do we explain the popularity of Coldplay?

In the case of Islamo-idiots, you have to be pretty idiotic to imagine you can stop the juggernaut which is western ‘civilisation’, but it doesn’t stop them trying. A few bombs aren’t exactly going to cripple our thriving military-industrial complex and ruthlessly powerful economic system. Not to mention the West’s incredibly popular cultural imperialism. Al Quaeda versus the Coca Cola Corporation? Give it up, guys.

But if the London bombings have taught us one thing, it’s that idiocy respects no national, cultural or racial boundaries. Take some of the idiots we’ve seen this week...


The Pund-idiots

A good 95 per cent of what has been written about the bombings has been the worst kind of bland and uninformative eyewash imaginable. At TFT we’re not labouring under any delusions that we have anything particularly profound to add, far less a quick fix for Our Troubled World, but at least we don’t write stuff
like this:

‘And now London must pick itself up and go forward, its barely broken stride indicating that its attackers have failed. The bereaved must be comforted, the survivors supported, the infrastructure restored. But the question cannot be escaped: what next? How does our open society respond?’

...with the air of Moses descending from Mount Sinai. That was a leader comment from The Observer, by the way. It’s not idiotic in itself, but it’s certainly typical of the endless punditry following the bombings: it’s pompous, it asks questions with no intention of answering them and it doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.

Cheers for that.


The Internet Idiots

A while back there was a funny, if harsh, headline on The Onion: ‘Area man loses cowardly fight against cancer.’ The joke isn’t about cancer, it’s about the way the glib cliché ‘man/woman loses brave fight against cancer’ is overused, especially by the media.

For some reason we were reminded of this when people started saying ‘We are not afraid!’ Frankly, if we were lying in hospital with horrific wounds right now, we’d be very afraid indeed of what the future holds. We’d also probably be endlessly asking ourselves ‘Why me? What was the POINT of this?’ and generally having crying and shaking fits.

Attempting to offer some ‘support’ to the general population, some Intertwats have set up www.werenotafraid.com, where other Intertwats can post up pictures saying they’re not afraid. Well, nor would we be if we lived in a remote part of Sweden.

While these people are probably sincere at some level, the mindless platitude ‘We are not afraid!’ doesn’t have much to do with the random nature of terrorist attacks. There’s a right way and a wrong way of doing things. The cenotaph is a necessary and restrained monument to our war dead. Setting up a website called www.bogoffyousausageeatingKrauts.com isn’t.

And nor is offering your condolences dressed as an Orc.


The Idiots Who Fail to Realise Events Can Have More Than One Cause

People have come up with many culprits for the London bombings. They include:

  • Al Quaeda
  • George Bush
  • Tony Blair
  • The West’s exploitation of the Middle East
  • Israel
  • Capitalism
  • The arms trade
  • The CIA supporting the Shah of Iran
  • Muslim fundamentalists’ hatred of secular western civilisation
  • The war in Iraq
  • Homegrown jihadists
  • Rich Saudi fundamentalists
  • Poor, dispossessed Arabs

...to name but a few.

It’s nonsensical to say that the war in Iraq is THE cause of the London bombings, given the indiscriminate nature of fundamentalist terrorism. However, it’s equally nonsensical to say that the bombings would have happened anyway because Al Qaeda and chums just hate the West. There appears to be a grim pecking order for fundamentalist terrorists, similar to the way that Palestinian terrorists would single out blameless Jewish American holidaymakers for extra harsh treatment during the hijackings of the 70s and 80s. The Madrid and London bombings show there is logic at work here, not just blind hatred against the West in general.

Thus the UK was and is more likely to be attacked, but it’s only part of the story. Now will people start asking what we can do to reduce that risk, instead of making simplistic statements that are analogous to claiming the cause of gun violence is Lisa Maffia?


The Blame Idiots

Immediately after the bombings, the Tories called for an inquiry into the bomb attacks. In what must be some sort of record, they dropped the idea later the same day. If only they were equally tenacious in scrapping the rest of their useless ideas.

An inquiry would have been pointless at this stage because the police investigation was barely underway. Even if it would have served any purpose, there’s still something deeply distasteful about immediately trying to make political capital out of a terrorist attack.

There was lots more blame speculation, particularly from the media: should our security services have been better informed? Frankly it’s not something you can even begin to answer unless you’ve actually worked for MI5 or MI6. Should we have been on a higher level of alert, a question beloved of journalists on Thursday? Probably not, but even if we had been, would it have made the slightest bit of practical difference?

(The answer is ‘no’, if any journalists actually care.)


The Buzz-phrase Idiot

Seven Seven. If you haven’t already expunged this icky expression from your vocabulary, consider these points:

...It makes the worst terrorist attack on the UK mainland sound as harmless as your local corner shop;

...It just serves to remind us that everything is bigger in America;

...It makes you sound like Nathan Barley.

The Armchair Security Expert Idiot

Easily identifiable by the fact that the armchair security expert idiot has no security or military training, and will say things like:

...You see, the sides of the bus will have focused the blast into a Cone of Lethality.

...Semtex or home-made nitro-glycerine? Semtex every time.

...You see, what the bombers will have done is activate a GPS beacon and a Syrian submarine will have picked them up off the coast of Wales [continues in same ill-informed, sub-Tom Clancy vein for some time...]


The Drama Idiot

Perhaps the strangest thing about the attacks was how quickly things returned to normal. By Friday the Underground was largely back on line. By Saturday it was almost as though nothing had happened. Credit where credit’s due, and surely a big shout must go out to all the staff of the London Underground.

Although strange, none of this is terribly inexplicable. Unlike living in - to pluck a random example out of the air - Baghdad, we knew that the bombings probably wouldn’t be repeated the next day. And we still know that when the next attacks happen, it’s statistically likely you won’t get killed or maimed. Perhaps above all, it’s not so much heroism that keeps people going, as the fact that there isn’t much to else to do except carry on doing whatever you were doing before.

This is not the view taken by the drama idiot, for whom nothing will ever be the same again, despite the fact that they live and work in Poole and were wholly unaffected by the blasts. ‘Nothing can ever be the same again,’ they mutter, portentously. ‘Literally.’

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