Friday, August 05, 2005


Further London Fallout

I must say that I am reading the text of Tony Blair's statement on anti-terror measures and I feel distinctly uncomfortable. It's discomforting not only for the effect that Blair is seeking to have on England, but also in the way that the "British example" (so lauded in this country as sober and responsible in the wake of the 7 July bombings in London) may serve to justify measures in this country -- measures either ongoing or in the future. Allow me to go through Blair's statement and explain.
Here are the measures either being taken now, immediately, or under urgent examination.

1. The home secretary today publishes new grounds for deportation and exclusion. Deportation is a decision taken by the home secretary under statute. The new grounds will include fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence.
Ok, well how are we going to define "justifying or validating" "violence to further a person's beliefs"? How about if I said this: the Iraq war was the right thing to do to spread democracy in the Middle East. Am I not justifying or validating violence (a war) to further a person's beliefs (my belief that democracy is the best form of government)? Or are we only talking about religious belief? What if I say that the creation of the state of Israel (resulting in the death and displacement of a number of Palestinians, i.e. violence) is justified because of my religious belief in Israel as the land of the Jews. All I am saying is that when you talk about deporting people for "justifying" or "validating" violence, what violence in particular are we talking about? Because that's the real issue, isn't it? Let's move on.
Up to now, the concern has been that orders for deportation will be struck down as contrary to article 3 of the ECHR [European convention on human rights], as interpreted by the European Court in the Chahal case in 1996; and indeed have had such cases struck down.

However, the circumstances of our national security have now self-evidently changed and we believe we can get the necessary assurances from the countries to which we will return the deportees, against their being subject to torture or ill-treatment contrary to article 3.
Ahhh, necessary assurances. Given the "circumstances of our national security," how necessary are those assurances going to be? Who's going to be checking on those assurances and how hard are they going to be checking? Can anybody say "extraordinary rendition"?
2. As has been stated already, there will be new anti-terrorism legislation in the autumn. This will include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism. The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK.
Again, we are back to what constitutes "terrorism" and what constitutes "justifying or glorifying" terrorism? At some point there needs to be a serious debate, an open discussion about what constitutes terrorism, about the validity of violence or armed struggle or terrorism or whatever you want to call it, about the roots of terrorism, about the causes that motivate terrorists, about all these things and it needs to include people who feel many different ways about all these isses. This is only possible with freedom of speech, in an evironment in which even terrible things can be said, in which even terrorism can be justified. This is the essential issue, I think -- what violence can we talk about, what violence can we justify, what violence and we glorify, and what violence can we be deported or arrested for talking about or justifying or glorifying? The following excerpts raise these same questions, so instead of writing the same thing after each I'll just use italics to bring out those parts that trouble me down in the gut area [and maybe a comment or two in brackets].
3. Anyone who has participated in terrorism or has anything to do with it anywhere will automatically be refused asylum. [anything to do with it? what does that mean?]

4. We have already powers to strip citizenship from those individuals with British or dual nationality who act in a way that is contrary to the interests of this country. We will now consult on extending these powers, applying them to naturalised citizens engaged in extremism and making the procedures simpler and more effective. [drip ... drip ... drip ... can you hear Alberto Gonzales drooling?]


6. We are already examining a new court procedure which would allow a pre-trial process. We will also examine whether the necessary procedure can be brought about to give us a way of meeting the police and security service request that detention pre-charge of terrorist suspects be significantly extended. [Gitmo, anybody?]

7. For those who are British nationals and who cannot be deported, we will extend the use of control orders. Any breach can mean imprisonment.
And on and on . . .

It seems to me that measures such as these themselves "foster hatred". They certainly glorify it in the name of protecting the (Christian, white, right-thinking) homeland.

Aunt Deb
Right on.
This is just another riff on the Whack-a-Mole school of international diplomacy.

Plus which, it plays into the hands of the bad guys. I can see them in their mountain fastness, watching the video, slapping their knees with delight and guffawing till sweet black Arabic coffee sprays out their nostrils. "Hey, wind it back! Wind it back! Let's hear that part again!" They probably stayed up late in the cave, to see what Rudi Giuliani was going to say. Pass the popcorn.

Those terrorists are playing the "coalition" like a cheap piano.

i actually caught some of q & a part of the press conference on c-span on friday night. it really just developed into tony blair finding different ways to repeat the "if you don't like it here, then leave" argument.
This stuff is even more upsetting in light of the information now coming out about the shooting of the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician. I can't read the new findings without concluding that the police simply went feral. And they and Blair continue to weasel out of their responsibility for what is essentially a murder. But this is not surprising, is it. After all, this is being done in the name of Cleansing Civilization of the Great Islamothreat.

Aunt Deb
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