Friday, August 05, 2005

A tolerant and good-natured nation


Tony Blair gave a little speech today on the subject of terrorism. He’s against it. “By and large,” he said, “Britain knows it is a tolerant and good-natured nation, is rather proud of it and has responded to this terrorism with tolerance and good nature in a way that has won the admiration of people and nations the world over.” The rest of the speech was a wish list of powers he wanted to use against terrorism, including a statute to abolish tolerance and good nature.

He will start deporting foreigners who glorify, justify or validate the work of terrorists, or who visit websites or book shops or join organizations which the PM doesn’t like (there will be a little list drawn up). He will trust in the assurances of the countries to which he deports people that they won’t be tortured or ill-treated too terribly much.

Blair wants the power to close mosques. He insists that it is in fact the Muslim community itself that has asked that he “weed out extremism” from amongst them, so that’s all right then. He wants to detain people without trial for long periods.

Since 9/11, Blair has always had a bit of victimization envy. He desperately wanted for Britain to be important enough on the world stage to be attacked, for it too to be hated for its freedom. He didn’t precisely wish for the bombings, but they do represent a kind of validation for him, and an opportunity to put on his determined face and make just such a speech as he did today. After 7/7, everything is different, he says, which sounds awfully familiar. No one is calling it “scaremongering” any more, he says. Sure they are. Well, I am. It’s just more of a seller’s market now.

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