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Home > Politics

The War Against Terror: Unholy Mess, Unholy Alliances

20 October 2006

May we be forgiven for what we are about to admit. We abjectly throw ourselves on your mercy in advance. Oh God. Here we go.

This week, Richard Littlejohn said something that we agree with.

There. We said it. Can you ever forgive us?

Here's what he had to say about the Home Secretary in his column for the Daily Heil this week:

'If John Reid moves any further to the Right, he'll have to start turning up at the Home Office in a peaked cap, blackshirt and jodhpurs, clicking his calf-length boots and cracking his riding crop.'

Now, we realise that this is something akin to Doctor Who forming an alliance with the Cybermen in order to defeat the Daleks (as he did, briefly, at the end of the last series) but bear with us - desperate times call for desperate measures. This was just *one* point amongst the mountains of doggerel Littlejohn produces (which we fondly imagine he scrawls with one of his own turds each morning before getting his carer to post it to his editor for him). As if we didn't have enough to hate Reid for without him being the matchmaker of unholy alliances.

There is a convention in blogging called 'Godwin's Law' which states 'as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one'. Basically, nothing derails sensible debate faster than a hyperbolic comparison of one of the parties to Hitler. It's hysterical and unhelpful. And yet...

Are we the only ones who can detect something unpleasant in the air right now? To adapt Jonathan Freedland who wrote in the Guardian on Wednesday in the context of him being a Jew: if the Government and the more rancid corners of what passes for the press these days were to talk about writers of weekly email comment sheets like they're talking about Muslims right now, we'd be looking for our passports. Something must be wrong for an establishment figure like Freedland to start chucking Holocaust metaphors around the place. Littlejohn went only a little further in evoking the Nazi regalia.

A few weeks back John Reid told Muslim parents to spy on their children. This week we hear that university staff are to be told to spy on 'Asian-looking' and Muslim students. Then up steps the undeniably unsettling Ruth Kelly, member of Catholic cult Opus Dei ('Let us bless pain. Love pain. Sanctify pain... Glorify pain!' said its founder, Josemaría Escrivá) and currently blocking new legislation gay rights legislation (well, what do you expect from the Minister for Equality?). With all the self-awareness we've come to expect from her ilk, she felt herself the ideal person to speak out on religious extremism.

And of course, Jack Straw, a man who once shook hands with Robert Mugabe and helped flog weapons to India while it was at loggerheads with Pakistan, said talking to Muslim women wearing the Niqab made him uncomfortable. How does the poor, over-sensitive sod summon the courage to leave the house in a morning? Still, from his point of view, while we're obsessing over what a handful of women do or don't wear, we're not talking about 650,000 Iraqi dead or the spiralling costs of ID cards.

The right-wing press, needless to say, duly feasted on his comments for a fortnight. We're not suggesting for one minute that veil-wearing Muslim women revel in other people's misery but we bet there's been sighs of relief all round that the leaking of Paul McCartney's divorce papers have given the papers someone else to chew on for a few days.

But on it goes. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair talked about the possibility of internment after the 'truly appalling act of terror' he believes is on the way. Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, in a neat contortion, talked about
Muslims entering into 'a voluntary apartheid' as if apartheid is something that is created by ordinary people wanting to keep themselves to themselves just like everybody else and not fascistic institutions seeking control over people's lives. Still, it's always been a Tory trick to blame the powerless. You can't imagine Davis accusing say, the affluent residents of the gated community Bow Quarter in East London, with their security guards and infra-red cameras, of trying to bring about an
apartheid.

And then we have the news that two suspected terrorists supposedly under control orders (or house arrest as they called it in apartheid-era South Africa) have escaped. Instead of resigning and begging for mercy for yet another display of Home Office idiocy, Reid claimed it as an excuse to re-introduce the harsher laws that he says were blocked by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. He seems to have forgotten that Labour have a majority in the House of Commons and it was a group of Labour MPs
clinging to what's left of their humanity that prevented travesties like 90-days detention from being introduced.

You can bet that the 'Oh Shit! Al Qaeda are back, bigger and badder than ever!' headlines we've seen this week will be used to bring in measures which currently only feature in the wettest of John Reid's and Sir Ian Blair's dreams. Britain is the number one destination for Al Qaeda tourists this year apparently and the postcards they'll send home will make for grim reading. It's to be doubted though that there'll be much soul-searching done by the Government as to how, after five years of The War Against Terror, this could be happening. What the hell did they spend all that money on? Sweets?

We've had control orders, detention without trial, Guantanamo Bay, up to 650,000 dead Iraqis, suicide bombings on the streets of Kabul, extraordinary rendition, 'torture-lite' and the rest of it. And for what? All to create more, better organised terrorists and make us less safe. And what will we get next? Instead of resignations, public humiliation and war crime trials for the ringleaders we'll get 'well, let's try something else instead' followed by yet more death and disillusionment. A campaign
against binge drinking, let's say, that produced more drunks would be laughed out of town but this shower are allowed to soldier on, making it up as they go along and making things worse. Why not just cut the crap and invite Al Qaeda to consult on policy-making? We seem to be doing exactly what they want so why not take the guesswork out of it?

God knows what the next round of anti-terrorism laws will bring but they'll be welcomed mainly by armchair racists, a Labour Party staring down the barrel of a right hammering at the next election and desperate for a bit of populism to save them, and white, middle-class newspaper editors with product to shift. And ordinary Muslims will still be caught in the middle, dragooned as the infantry in a war not of their making or wanting. Why aren't we asking white, male, lager-drinkers to take down football hooligans? How about getting the male population to bring an end to domestic violence (which, incidentally, kills twice as many women in Britain *every year* than people killed by the bombings in London last year). Why aren't non-Muslim parents being told to spy on their drinking, rutting and stabbing offspring? Could we maybe get the Scots to reign in John Reid? Blair gives us his 'we're all in this together' schtick about terrorist outrages in Muslim countries as well as in America and Britain and then he lets his Government foster 'enemy within' paranoia. Bootboys like Reid then put their size nines on and get stuck in.

So, if it comes to another Battle of Cable Street (the clash between anti-fascists and Oswald Mosley's blackshirts - the 70th anniversary of which was celebrated a couple of weeks ago), we'll man the barricades with Littlejohn.

Just please, *please* don't tell anybody we said so.
This was just *one* point amongst the mountains of doggerel Littlejohn produces (which we fondly imagine he scrawls with one of his own turds each morning before getting his carer to post it to his editor for him). As if we didn't have enough to hate Reid for without him being the matchmaker of unholy alliances.

There is a convention in blogging called 'Godwin's Law' which states 'as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one'. Basically, nothing derails sensible debate faster than a hyperbolic comparison of one of the parties to Hitler. It's hysterical and unhelpful. And yet...

Are we the only ones who can detect something unpleasant in the air right now? To adapt Jonathan Freedland who wrote in the Guardian on Wednesday in the context of him being a Jew: if the Government and the more rancid corners of what passes for the press these days were to talk about writers of weekly email comment sheets like they're talking about Muslims right now, we'd be looking for our passports. Something must be wrong for an establishment figure like Freedland to start chucking Holocaust metaphors around the place. Littlejohn went only a little further in evoking the Nazi regalia.

A few weeks back John Reid told Muslim parents to spy on their children. This week we hear that university staff are to be told to spy on 'Asian-looking' and Muslim students. Then up steps the undeniably unsettling Ruth Kelly, member of Catholic cult Opus Dei ('Let us bless pain. Love pain. Sanctify pain... Glorify pain!' said its founder, Josemaría Escrivá) and currently blocking new legislation gay rights legislation (well, what do you expect from the Minister for Equality?). With all the self-awareness we've come to expect from her ilk, she felt herself the ideal person to speak out on religious extremism.

And of course, Jack Straw, a man who once shook hands with Robert Mugabe and helped flog weapons to India while it was at loggerheads with Pakistan, said talking to Muslim women wearing the Niqab made him uncomfortable. How does the poor, over-sensitive sod summon the courage to leave the house in a morning? Still, from his point of view, while we're obsessing over what a handful of women do or don't wear, we're not talking about 650,000 Iraqi dead or the spiralling costs of ID cards.

The right-wing press, needless to say, duly feasted on his comments for a fortnight. We're not suggesting for one minute that veil-wearing Muslim women revel in other people's misery but we bet there's been sighs of relief all round that the leaking of Paul McCartney's divorce papers have given the papers someone else to chew on for a few days.

But on it goes. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair talked about the possibility of internment after the 'truly appalling act of terror' he believes is on the way. Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, in a neat contortion, talked about
Muslims entering into 'a voluntary apartheid' as if apartheid is something that is created by ordinary people wanting to keep themselves to themselves just like everybody else and not fascistic institutions seeking control over people's lives. Still, it's always been a Tory trick to blame the powerless. You can't imagine Davis accusing say, the affluent residents of the gated community Bow Quarter in East London, with their security guards and infra-red cameras, of trying to bring about an
apartheid.

And then we have the news that two suspected terrorists supposedly under control orders (or house arrest as they called it in apartheid-era South Africa) have escaped. Instead of resigning and begging for mercy for yet another display of Home Office idiocy, Reid claimed it as an excuse to re-introduce the harsher laws that he says were blocked by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. He seems to have forgotten that Labour have a majority in the House of Commons and it was a group of Labour MPs
clinging to what's left of their humanity that prevented travesties like 90-days detention from being introduced.

You can bet that the 'Oh Shit! Al Qaeda are back, bigger and badder than ever!' headlines we've seen this week will be used to bring in measures which currently only feature in the wettest of John Reid's and Sir Ian Blair's dreams. Britain is the number one destination for Al Qaeda tourists this year apparently and the postcards they'll send home will make for grim reading. It's to be doubted though that there'll be much soul-searching done by the Government as to how, after five years of The War Against Terror, this could be happening. What the hell did they spend all that money on? Sweets?

We've had control orders, detention without trial, Guantanamo Bay, up to 650,000 dead Iraqis, suicide bombings on the streets of Kabul, extraordinary rendition, 'torture-lite' and the rest of it. And for what? All to create more, better organised terrorists and make us less safe. And what will we get next? Instead of resignations, public humiliation and war crime trials for the ringleaders we'll get 'well, let's try something else instead' followed by yet more death and disillusionment. A campaign
against binge drinking, let's say, that produced more drunks would be laughed out of town but this shower are allowed to soldier on, making it up as they go along and making things worse. Why not just cut the crap and invite Al Qaeda to consult on policy-making? We seem to be doing exactly what they want so why not take the guesswork out of it?

God knows what the next round of anti-terrorism laws will bring but they'll be welcomed mainly by armchair racists, a Labour Party staring down the barrel of a right hammering at the next election and desperate for a bit of populism to save them, and white, middle-class newspaper editors with product to shift. And ordinary Muslims will still be caught in the middle, dragooned as the infantry in a war not of their making or wanting. Why aren't we asking white, male, lager-drinkers to take down football hooligans? How about getting the male population to bring an end to domestic violence (which, incidentally, kills twice as many women in Britain *every year* than people killed by the bombings in London last year). Why aren't non-Muslim parents being told to spy on their drinking, rutting and stabbing offspring? Could we maybe get the Scots to reign in John Reid? Blair gives us his 'we're all in this together' schtick about terrorist outrages in Muslim countries as well as in America and Britain and then he lets his Government foster 'enemy within' paranoia. Bootboys like Reid then put their size nines on and get stuck in.

So, if it comes to another Battle of Cable Street (the clash between anti-fascists and Oswald Mosley's blackshirts - the 70th anniversary of which was celebrated a couple of weeks ago), we'll man the barricades with Littlejohn.

Just please, *please* don't tell anybody we said so.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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