Friday, September 08, 2006

Simon Jenkins-rage

Some time ago I was concerned about where the Guardian managed to find people to write articles quite as poorly argued and illogical as fill their pages. However, when they turned a Nobel winning economist into a Chinese Communist Party sap I should have seen the writing on the wall; the Guardian makes them.

Simon Jenkins used to write sensible articles about changing standards in the NHS and the success of the Thatcher reforms. Now he produces this drivel.

"They include movies by Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass, and American and British 9/11 specials from stars such as Harvey Keitel and Kevin Costner called The Millionaire Widows, The Miracle of Staircase B, On Native Soil and numerous variants on twin towers. There are comic strips and videos and where-was-I-then memoirs. The weekend is to be wall-to-wall 9/11. Not glorifying terrorism? You must be joking."

Hmm... the Miracle of Staircase B certainly sounds like it is a fearful cry of anguish doesn't it? Or, perhaps some coverage of 9/11 is actually about commemorating the heroism of those who fought to save innocent lives?

What about the film Pearl Harbour? Released decades after the actual event and yet criticism of the film usually centers on the direness of Ben Affleck's "acting" and not its glorification of Japanese militarism.

"The favourite line from the war on terror's military-industrial complex is that in 2001 Osama bin Laden "changed the rules of the game". (Forgotten is that he attacked the same target in 1993, his only error being one of civil engineering.) "

Simon Jenkins in "thousands of people dying can make people respond differently" scoop.

"George Bush repeated the change thesis again on Wednesday in confirming his secret interrogation camps and excusing the five-year delay in bringing al-Qaida suspects to justice. Tony Blair cites the change with every curb on civil liberty. The "new" terrorism requires a new approach to public safety. The security industry cries amen."

I love that lefty conspiracy nuts (like Simon Jenkins) can combine this particular theory with their fanciful estimates of the collosal financial cost of the war on Iraq. Surely the vast right wing conspiracy would have chosen a conflict with less capacity to endanger the financial stability of their low tax economy if they were to choose an evil right wing revenue generator?

A more intelligent analysis would confirm that something clearly has changed post 9/11 to make Bush move from being focussed primarily on the emerging challenge from China to being focussed upon militant Islam. The question is whether his response is the correct one not whether you can pretend this was all some kind of invention.

"Forty years after Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite, Russian terrorists tried to pack a plane with the stuff and fly it into the tsar's palace. In 1883 Chicago-financed Fenians exploded bombs on the London underground, leading the Times to wonder if the tube could ever be safe. There has been little change in the preferred weapon of terror, the explosive device, or in the psychopathology of the bomber. The causes remain the same: separatism, and religious nationalism dressed up as holy war."

Okay. So in the first attack no one died (maybe the plotters but I don't know the history here) and in the second probably dozens. This change in "degree" to thousands would seem important.

"What has changed, grotesquely, is the aftershock. Terrorism is 10% bang and 90% an echo effect composed of media hysteria, political overkill and kneejerk executive action, usually retribution against some wider group treated as collectively responsible. This response has become 24-hour, seven-day-a-week amplification by the new politico-media complex, especially shrill where the dead are white people. It is this that puts global terror into the bang. While we take ever more extravagant steps to ward off the bangs, we do the opposite with the terrorist aftershock. We turn up its volume. We seem to wallow in fear."

Isn't Simon Jenkins such a brilliant philosopher king? While all us mortals are being weak and getting scared by people bombing us he's here to remind us that the problem isn't people dying but, rather, us being so damned pathetic about it.

Strange then, that all us pathetic proles with our hysterical media haven't stopped riding the tube or flying. Surely that should have been our first step in manifesting our grotesque fear?
"They drove the Taliban back into the mountains, restoring the latter's credibility in the Arab street and turning al-Qaida into heroes. "
I bet they're loving it. Woo! I'm getting a daisycutter dropped on my head.

Actually, from demonstrations in the less savoury parts of the Muslim world (as opposed to official pronouncements given to the Western media) we can tell that Al Qaeda became heroes to the unstable lunatics who use Islam as cover the moment they hurt America.

After this Jenkins goes on a little circular trot around pretending he wants to censor but not really because he's a good little liberal. This serves to do nothing but show that he does not think about the complexities of the debate over the best way of defending our values but prefers the simplicities of being holier than thou. There are important questions over infringements on liberty such as the suspension of habeas corpus or a free press and whether or not those libertys will be better defended in the long term by being limited or by being defended as an absolute. However, he doesn't address this at all and I've given more than enough time to this column already so I won't either.

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