Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tell me exactly what they feel angry about


John McCain says there is no Plan B for Iraq, which is okay because “I believe that General Eisenhower didn’t have a Plan B at Normandy, and I don’t think that General Grant had a Plan B when he decided to take Richmond,” adding, “or General Custer at Little Bighorn, or my uncle Elmer when he stuck that fork in a toaster (poor Uncle Elmer) or...”

Right-wing tv station RCTV will be pulled from the air in Venezuela as of midnight after 54 years on the air, as Hugo Chavez had announced taunted. Chavez explained that this wasn’t about ensuring that no other voice than his is heard, in a speech yesterday that was, er, carried compulsorily by every tv station: “That television station became a threat to the country, so I decided not to renew the licence because it’s my responsibility.” So that’s okay then.

Tony Blair, in an op-ed piece in the Sunday Times, also finds a grave threat to his country: an outdated attachment to liberty. “We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. I happen to believe this is misguided and wrong. ... Over the past five or six years, we have decided as a country that except in the most limited of ways, the threat to our public safety does not justify changing radically the legal basis on which we confront this extremism.” He also blames Parliament and the courts, but clearly it is the failure of the British people themselves, “as a society” and “as a country,” to prioritize security over what he calls “traditional civil liberties” that he finds most galling. They must be a great disappointment to him.

Blair blames the courts for not allowing him to deport foreign nationals “who were either engaged in or inciting extremism.” Note the intentional vagueness of the term extremism: does he mean people who take extreme actions or who hold extreme ideas? In fact, only people who still believe in those quaint traditional civil liberties continue to make such distinctions. Tony certainly doesn’t.

While he is also willing to put British extremists under surveillance and order limits on their activities, he finds foreigners especially dangerous because of “the ideas they import from abroad.” Blair would like to deport any Johnny Foreigner who “imports” ideas no matter the risk of torture or murder he faces: “if he... abuses our hospitality and threatens us, I feel he should take his chance back in his own home country.”

Tony then tells a story of being stopped by some anonymous muddle-headed type who blamed terrorism on the invasion and occupation of Muslim countries. Blair responded, “tell me exactly what they feel angry about.” After all, “we” removed two brutal dictatorships and replaced them with democracies. “And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims. What’s more, British troops are risking their lives trying to prevent the killing. Why should anyone feel angry about us?” Yup, it’s a complete fucking mystery all right, Tony.

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