Monday, June 29, 2015

The Business of Terror

Without wishing to make light of a tragedy, recent events in Tunisia have simply reinforced my aversion to foreign holidays.  Despite all the usual claims that we must also remain vigilant on the home front because these 'militant Islamists' could strike in the UK, I can honestly say that I don't feel that I'm likely to be the victim of a jihadist attack in Milford-on-Sea, which is the sort of place I tend to wind up in these days whilst on holiday.  I found the reporting of the 'Tunisian holiday massacre' rather disturbing - barely forty eight hours after nearly forty people had been killed and many others wounded, the media started focusing on the detrimental effects the attack would have on the local tourist industry.  Apparently taxi drivers and owners of gift shops selling tat could suffer significant losses in earnings.  Is this what we've come to?  People have died and, within a couple of days, everyone is throwing their hands in the air and wailing 'Will nobody think of the small businessmen?'  Is this really the face of modern capitalism?

Then there was the usual confused reporting about the perpetrator - footage of him break dancing and generally behaving like a normal young person is unearthed, accompanied by the usual astonished commentary asking how someone so 'normal' could become a terrorist.  Which ignores the fact that, despite what the authorities want us to believe, terrorists are actually normal, ordinary people you wouldn't give a second look in the street.  They aren't born evil.  They aren't demonically possessed.  They've simply come to embrace an extremist ideology, usually as a result of socio-economic factors influencing their world view - they come to believe that the only solution to their situation lies through violent action.  In other words, their experiences have convinced them that the normal democratic process (where available) does not work to effect change in a way beneficial to them (and after that recent general election result, who could blame them?).  Likewise, they have come to believe that the prevailing social conditions and economic system oppress them, stopping them from advancing themselves.  But it's much simpler for the media and the establishment they serve to portray terrorists as outsiders, psychopaths and evil loons.  The alternative is to concede that we, as a society, might have to bear some responsibility for their creation.

But portraying them as an external force, like invading space aliens, is much easier - they make the perfect scapegoats.  It's got to the stage where 'Islamist extremists' has become the catch-all explanation for everything bad that happens - they are now the external force causing every catastrophe.  That coach crash involving British school kids?  Islamist extremists were behind it.  Why did that US rocket taking stuff to the International Space Station explode?  Sabotage by Islamist extremists, obviously.  Those two kids stabbed near Portsmouth the other day, apparently by a tramp of some kind? Well, don't you know that tramp had converted to Islam and was an Islamist extremist?  They probably ate Freddie Starr's hamster, as well. It explains everything without having to resort to reason, logic, science, human error, social exclusion, economic deprivation or any of the other factors which lie behind events.

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