Notice how on Thursday at the very beginning of the episode when the word terrorism was announced. It was like everyone had some sort of confirmation. People went ahhhh ok it’s the terrorists and continued on. But what does that mean, ‘the terrorists’?
The word is used to call someone’s enemy. It has become a condemnation rather than a description or explanation. This is nothing new. In the second world war, the German occupation force called members of the Dutch resistance ‘terrorists’ while the latter’s self image was that of patriots and resistance fighters. In effect, for much of the modern era of terrorism, all liberation movements have been called ‘terrorists’ by their opponents. Indeed, Hizbollah is labelled terrorist by the U.S and Isreal but not the Lebanese or the EU. Is terrorism, then, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?
Not this kind of terrorism, or what some people like to call ‘super-terrorism’. The old terrorism was followed up by an announcement of responsibility of the act followed by long speeches that state the ‘terrorists’ objectives and what they want. This new kind of terrorism is confusing even for an Arab, Muslim and bearded man.
Freedman in his Superterrorism-Policy Response (Very good book for anyone interested in topic) believes that a threshold was crossed in 1995 with the Tokyo subway attacks by Japanese Cult Aum Shinrikyo. It was the first time an independent sub-state group, acting without state patronage or protection had managed to produce and use biochemical weapons on a large scale. Then came the September 11 attack. This kind of terrorism has led to a new theme in terrorist thinking. Rather than on trying to understand the organisation themselves and their objectives, counter-terrorist thinking has focused on the means and technology at the disposal of terror groups This is unfortunate as it has got some states to terrorize themselves far more than the terrorists themselves. We all heard the vengeful cries of Americans after September 11. People in a moment of crisis tend to be willing to sacrifice freedom when their security seems to be seriously threatened, even when a democratic tradition is strong. Scapegoating and indiscriminate labelling are two of the most spiteful anti-democratic symptoms of generalised public fear and insecurity. Overly dramatic depiction of events by media and shallow coverage are all the elements that enhance these sorts of reactions.
So far this does not seem to be the case here. Riding on my bike on Thursday towards in the centre of London, I have to say i was in awe of how organised and calm everyone was. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been in Beirut way too long and the slightest thing there causes utter chaos and people screaming and in comparison London seemed so Calm or whether…
1. The English in general are serene and composed
2. The English have had experience with terrorist attacks and world wars before so this is nothing new
3. They were expecting this any day given their prime ministers external political affiliation
Feel free to comment….