OPERATION GROUNDHOG DAY

Yes, we’ve been here before, and not that long since either. As a matter of fact, the way in which I heard of events in London late last night was more or less identical to the way in which I heard of events in Manchester just under a fortnight ago, right at the point whereby I was winding down online for the evening. I won’t even use the word déjà vu because it seems such a cliché, but at the moment it feels as though we are living in a permanent rolling news channel, with atrocities on a loop; the media barely has time to get over blanket coverage of one incident before the next one comes along with all its attendant visual signposts recycled once again.

I actually avoided the real rolling news channels this time round because the manner of reportage is too close to the style I spoofed on a YT video a week or so ago. Part of me was also worried I was beginning to become jaded with it all, in the same way US television viewers did with the Moon Landings after Neil Armstrong’s one small step. But the pattern is well established now, as much for the media as for the perpetrators, and the worry is that we become so accustomed to terrorist attacks that they lose their power to shock. It would be sad if the kind of fatigue sets in that is often the response to the latest gun crime incident in the States, though incessant exposure to the same TV presentation and the same newspaper headlines can make this possible.

What happened on London Bridge and around Borough Market brought a disturbing new interpretation of the phrase ‘White Van Man’ to the colloquial table. Having been confronted by the considerably rarer tactic of the suicide bomber as a means of fast mass murder in Manchester, the public were reunited with the same haphazard approach to Jihadi brutality as occurred on Westminster Bridge in March – a vehicle deliberately driven into pedestrians, followed by knife-wielding lunatics emerging from it to wreak havoc in the name of Allah before being gunned down by armed police. What comes next we can already write the script for.

COBRA will reconvene; the PM will issue the same platitudes and promises from the Downing Street lectern; Fleet Street editorials will either preach tolerance or advocate internment; arrests around the country will be made; the terrorists will be named and FB profile pics of them will be unearthed as their road to martyrdom will raise few eyebrows; some on social media will question the timing of events and enter into conspiracy theories as to how they will benefit the Tories; we will be constantly reminded Islam is a peace-loving faith; and on and on it goes before the next attack.

Right now, it’s impossible to say if this is a co-ordinated sequence of assaults on the UK conducted by individuals in touch with each other at the planning process or if one attack inspires another in spontaneous copycat incidents, though the latter seems more likely; the chillingly clinical team effort that Paris experienced a couple of years ago was closer to a guerrilla operation; this still has the feel of DIY amateurishness. But it’s indisputable that after a decade of relative immunity to the bloodshed enacted on mainland European soil it now appears the twelve-year armistice since 7/7 is well and truly over. Are we in the thick of an Islamic equivalent of the IRA bombing campaign of the mid-70s or is it mere coincidence that all these attacks have taken place in such quick succession? Nobody knows yet; but whether the climate of fear one presumes the Jihadists intended to create will influence the thought processes of people going about their daily lives remains to be seen.

Of course, the timing of the incidents, so close to a General Election, means what began as the Brexit Election is in danger of becoming the Terror Election. National campaigning has been suspended by at least the Conservatives and Labour for today as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives last night, though business as usual will resume tomorrow; when we’re just four days away from the nation going to the polls, the campaign has no choice but to continue. It’s difficult to predict what kind of impact the current onslaught may or may not have on how the electorate decide to vote, for at the moment it seems whoever happens to be occupying No.10 on Friday is pretty powerless to prevent this from happening all over again.

I suppose it’s inevitable that the compulsory mouthpiece of social media is awash with opinions and reactions that reflect the confusion of the generations that have come of age with no memory of the last time this country was in a state of high alert. When the IRA were inflicting their own nihilistic ideology on mainland Britain, a large majority of the population had lived through the Second World War and didn’t scare easily. As far as the UK is concerned, the 1990s was a relatively peaceful decade to be born into when compared to the couple that preceded it; and even 9/11 as a game-changing event is something that now happened sixteen years ago; one would have to be at least twenty to have a clear memory of it.

Therefore, as easy (not to mention lazy) as it is for someone of my age – as well as slightly younger and slightly older – to react and respond differently to each incident, with less sense of feeling the world is going to Hell in a handcart, it’s worth acknowledging there are a lot of people out there who have no precedents to fall back on. These are indeed unsettling times, but they don’t alter my own personal outlook on the good, the bad and the ugly inherent in my fellow-man. Let’s just keep buggering on.

© The Editor

https://www.epubli.de//shop/buch/Looking-for-Alison-Johnny-Monroe-9783745059861/63240

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9 thoughts on “OPERATION GROUNDHOG DAY

  1. So just three demented men are able to cause panic in our capital city, close sections of it down and temporarily disrupt the processes of democracy. How has this come about? If that had happened seventy-five years ago the infuriated population, millions of whom were in uniform and in no way disposed to give way to savagery, might have been tempted to administer rough justice in the street. Of course we’ve moved on, as they say, since then, and perhaps much too far towards the human rights of individual criminals rather than those of democratic society generally. I hope the Prime Minister means it when she says enough is enough.

    I am particularly sorry about the present state of affairs because I remember how things used to be, when the world really was in some respects a better place. I was a member of the British High Commission in Pakistan for a few years following Partition. In those days, most of us, impecunious and lacking private cars, mingled freely in the streets, shops and bazaars with really nice, ordinary Pakistanis, and in all that time in Pakistan, and later in Saudi Arabia, I never once experienced the slightest ill-will from the local populations. I doubt if a British diplomat in Pakistan today would last very long if he tried to live now as we did then.

    What has caused this change? Today’s animosities must surely be rooted to some extent in British foreign policy starting perhaps with Balfour and growing with Suez and more recent catastrophes. But I would guess the major cause by far has been the acquisition of vast wealth by a fundamentalist branch of Islam, helped by western self-interest, and the consequent ability to spread its pernicious doctrines far and wide which I don’t think we did much to counter. Remember Londonistan? God, how weak-kneed we were!

    So keep buggering on by all means but for heaven’s sake let’s show a bit of steel too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’ve been here before and all has probably been said already. However, the politicos don’t help when they claim that “the terrorists will not disrupt our way of life”, then promptly abandon a general election campaign for a day ‘out of respect for the victims’ – which means they’ve won. Some respect to UKIP for not stopping their campaign – at least they’re not being so hypocritical.
    Mr Pooter is quite right to identify the availability of funding as a root cause of the recent spread of that barbaric ideology which rides as a parasite on a small and perverse corner of Islam, funding which emanated from the Western greed for cheap oil, turning a blind-eye to the background behaviours of its sources. One potential benefit of the emerging ‘green’ direction may be to reduce that cash-flow, returning those states to their camel-herding formats and eliminating all that easy money which has contributed so much to the present situation.
    Of course (tin-foil hat on) it does seem a tad spooky that, only a day or two after Mrs May had her big ‘wobble’ over care costs two weeks ago, there was a ‘terrorist outrage’ in Manchester occupying wall-to-wall news coverage for days, taking her Dementia Tax off the headlines. Then on Friday last week, Michael Fallon caused another ‘wobble’ by saying that their rich mates certainly wouldn’t pay any more tax after the election: guess what, 24 hours later there’s another ‘terrorist outrage’, with the associated saturation coverage to overwhelm that ‘wobble’. To have one convenient event may indeed be serendipity, but to have two of them starts to look a bit unaccidental . . . . .

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  3. And seriously… I am of the liberal hand-wringing live-and-let-live tendency but yesterday I felt real anger for the first time (usually it’s just despair)…

    Maybe, anyone who commits an atrocity like this (whatever religion/colour/belief system) has all rights withdrawn from their immediate family? No housing, or NI, or benefits or health care or education or pensions for the wife, kids, siblings, parents, inlaws, cousins…. It would certainly give the surrounding family cause to reign in their more extremist members and maybe if any potential attacker cared about anyone else, it might give them pause to think too.

    Drastic, I know, but there’s fuck all to stop anyone getting hold of a white van and some machetes. It’s not a matter of the internet either. For all we know, these three decided on the spur of the moment to cause havoc. It does not seem like a well-planned incident.

    Yes, very illiberal and intolerant of me. I look in the mirror and wonder who I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now whose reputation is at risk ?
      Although I can’t imagine a UK government employing the measures you identify, there is much sense in looking for ways in which the ‘wider families’ of the perpetrators can be held accountable for the inaction that enabled the atrocity to occur, or the environment to encourage it. In their culture, ‘family’ is vitally important, so that channel offers a vehicle for powerful influence.
      As most of our resident Islamists hold dual-nationality, maybe the UK government should simply remove citizenship rights from all parents, siblings, spouses and children of convicted terrorists, immediately returning them all to their other passport state, regardless of its stability. That might concentrate their minds on the benefits of living in ‘free’ Britain enjoying priority over their dangerously muddled ideology.
      It’s not easy to accept, as no-one ever wants to punish innocents – but then our teachers often kept the whole class in detention for the ‘sins’ of an individual, so what’s the difference ?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I did find, in the hours following this piece being penned and posted, I became profoundly depressed at the state of affairs we find ourselves in – and that’s even when avoiding the borderline-voyeuristic media bombardment. As you say, the sense of anger and desire for something drastic to be done can bring out sides of ourselves we’re not necessarily comfortable with; but it can’t go on like this.

      Like

    1. The Kathy Griffin photo ironically reminded me of The Beatles’ ‘Butcher’ LP sleeve; it may have been withdrawn, but it didn’t kill their career. Mind you, no social media onslaught back then, I suppose.

      Like

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