Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 1 July 2007

Threat level: 'CRITICAL'

With the terrorist [attempted] outrages in London and Glasgow over the past couple of days the Threat Level has been raised, once more, to 'CRITICAL'; as I am not planning to fly, or travel any great distance, in the near future I daresay this will not affect me much. I'm just watching Prime Minister Gordon Brown (still getting used to that one) on BBC1's SundayAM programme being interviewed by Andrew Marr; he issued soothing words about maintaining independent control over whatever increased 'security arrangements' may be considered necessary; we'll see if the practice fulfils this pledge. He declined to comment on the future of the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and whether it needs to be closed urgently.

Some other bloggers, and news media, have commented that the apparent 'bungling' of these two separate terrorist incidents shows how ill-organised the terrorists are. Particular scorn has been reserved for the person in the Glasgow airport incident, apparently one of the two passengers in the vehicle driven at high speed into the airport building, who set himself on fire and is reported to have been dousing himself with petrol. These ignorant comments (and I won't link to them here, as they are quite ridiculous enough already, in my view) betray a complete lack of imagination; someone who has 'accidentally' set himself on fire does not (I would imagine) continue the 'idiocy' by dousing himself with petrol. These are 'suicide bombers' folks, whose whole objective seems to be to 'martyr' themselves and get as much publicity for the issues which obsess them as they can. In this they have succeeded massively. I am myself contributing, I suppose, in my small way to the wave of publicity these sadly-misguided people have generated by writing this post. But until and unless something else even more truly awful (God forbid) happens I do not imagine I will be attempting to keep up a running commentary on what is happening.

The news media, and some bloggers, seem to feel the need to fill up endless time with 'twittering on' when there is no real 'news' to report. In the case of 24-hour television news channels this seems no more, quite often, than an effort to fill up time with an endless rehashing of old news, with occasional snippets of 'new' information thrown in to try and keep viewers hooked. However, life goes on and I don't plan to disrupt my usual routine more than I have to - and this includes not sitting watching BBC News24 or Sky News all day, or writing here about it when I have got nothing much to say - I took a conscious decision not to visit the US for example whilst the current President remains in office. I renewed my passport three years early last year to try and thwart the authoritarian instincts of this government (ID Cards and 'biometric profiling' etc). These are practical contributions to my own personal security which are probably at least as important as anything else I might be able to do. As Her Majesty the Queen is reported to have remarked some years ago: "There are forces operating in this country of which we know little"; indeed there are Ma'am, and not all those with malign intentions are Islamic [or IRA] extremists (who certainly do seem to exist, unfortunately), there are those who wish to use the fear of terrorist outrages as a way of justifying increasing curtailment of our civil liberties; to be honest I'm not sure which strand will do the greater long-term damage to the lives of ordinary people in this country.

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