Thursday, 24 August 2006

briefly and not so briefly

I am planting my plants. It seems somehow more important to have the garden looking nice for people to visit than to make sure the carpets are clean. I am open to debate on this; but not very much.

I am also angry, scared and worried about my country.

Go and read this in the Independent today.

Are we moving towards a place where Muslims are going to be expected to wear some kind of readily identifiable badge on their clothing so that we can all see that they are different from most of the population?

Perhaps someone will come up with some other brilliant ideas to protect the rest of society from the Muslim threat. Maybe creating specific areas for Muslims to live, so that they are not a danger to the rest of us non-Muslims? Or not allowing Muslims to have certain jobs, in case they are terrorists? Or how about herding all the Muslims in the country in to special camps, in order to separate them out from the rest of us and keep us all safe?

I am not a naive person. Rather the opposite I think. I KNOW that there IS a 'terrorist threat'. That there are a very small minority of very bad people who think that causing mayhem, shedding blood and creating disorder is the way to get what they want - whatever that is;  they don't seem very clear about it.

But all my life, in a shuffly-feeted, slightly embarassed (and probably typical) sort of way, I have been proud to be British. Because of our justice system. Because of our sense of proportion. Because of our democracy. Because as a nation, we tend to weather bad things, make black jokes about them, fix what went wrong and keep plodding on; dealing with whatever the issue is without hysteria, practically, SENSIBLY.

I am, actually, no longer proud to be British.

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed of my government. We appear to be ruled (and I no longer feel comfortable using the word 'governed' here) by a government of spineless, reactionary, mediaphiles who are in their turn ruled by the opinion of the red top newspapers. I am ashamed of some of my fellow countrymen; the kind of people who before too long WILL be calling for detention camps for all young Muslim men.  I am ashamed and horrified that it is now seems to be becoming commonplace for people to be woken in the night and taken from their homes for questioning.

And I am ashamed of myself, for not standing up and making myself heard - for not shouting that I DON'T accept all of this.  For not being more active in protesting the fact that you now have to apply to peacefully protest outside the Houses of Parliament. For not writing letters about the dozen other things that I have read about or heard about in the last twelve months and thought 'that's dreadful' and then turned the page.

Please be aware what is happening to the UK. Our civil liberties, our right to free speech and the way we live our lives is being eroded.  If you realise this and then choose to let it happen, at least you will have then made a choice and taken some responsibility for it. Otherwise it will happen around you and one morning you will wake up and you will wonder what happened to our sensible, fair, pleasant, balanced, ACCEPTING society. And it will be too late.

Liberty - Civil liberties and human rights
Charter 88 - Campaign for a fair democracy
No to ID - what it says on the tin

And now I am going back out in to the garden.

24 comments:

  1. We are having the same problems on this side of the pond. Our government is still trying to say that any criticism of the king ... I mean, president ... is providing aid and comfort to "the enemy", and is therefore, essentially, treason. I have been ashamed of the behavior of my country for several years. It is so difficult when you suddenly realize that your country is no longer acting like Your. Country.

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  2. We are having the same problems on this side of the pond. Our government is still trying to say that any criticism of the king ... I mean, president ... is providing aid and comfort to "the enemy", and is therefore, essentially, treason. I have been ashamed of the behavior of my country for several years. It is so difficult when you suddenly realize that your country is no longer acting like Your. Country.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I find myself in a quandary.

    It is undoubtedly true that the VAST majority of the Islamic community are peaceable decent honourable citizens.

    There is undoubtedly a logic to profiling but I suspect that whatever short term gains it has will be out weighed by the long term harm.

    Equally whereas I think our government policy on Iraq is wrong. I ought to point out that 9/11 took place before the invasion so we can hardly say that the invasion caused the terrorism.

    The initial event though achieved what al-qaeda wanted. And for that I blame Bush & Blair.

    The problem is that the press do hold too much power. The average citizen does not question what they read nor the agenda behind it.

    The Red tops are comics.

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  4. I find myself in a quandary.

    It is undoubtedly true that the VAST majority of the Islamic community are peaceable decent honourable citizens.

    There is undoubtedly a logic to profiling but I suspect that whatever short term gains it has will be out weighed by the long term harm.

    Equally whereas I think our government policy on Iraq is wrong. I ought to point out that 9/11 took place before the invasion so we can hardly say that the invasion caused the terrorism.

    The initial event though achieved what al-qaeda wanted. And for that I blame Bush & Blair.

    The problem is that the press do hold too much power. The average citizen does not question what they read nor the agenda behind it.

    The Red tops are comics.

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  5. I've said this on the blog but

    we need to take a long hard look in the mirror. We are an image conscious nation.

    Hence the Tories opted for David "media friendly" Cameron over Ken "old fat but whatever your politics you know you'd enjoy a beer with him" Clarke.

    It is undoubtedly true that John Smith would never have won the majorities Blair did.

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  6. I've said this on the blog but

    we need to take a long hard look in the mirror. We are an image conscious nation.

    Hence the Tories opted for David "media friendly" Cameron over Ken "old fat but whatever your politics you know you'd enjoy a beer with him" Clarke.

    It is undoubtedly true that John Smith would never have won the majorities Blair did.

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  7. For me the problem is that all this authoritarian crap probably doesn't do any good at all. If the so called 'War On Terror' was called off tomorrow and if all the 'security measures' that have put in place were abandoned we wouldn't be living in an Islamic republic in ten years time, the number of people killed by bombs would still be miniscule compared to the number of people killed by cars, we would all be much freer and our lives would be much more enjoyable. It's like when they stopped having bins on underground stations: It just caused a mess and now they're back and everyone's much happier.

    It is well worth contacting your MP to hassle them about every repressive measure http://www.writetothem.com/

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  8. For me the problem is that all this authoritarian crap probably doesn't do any good at all. If the so called 'War On Terror' was called off tomorrow and if all the 'security measures' that have put in place were abandoned we wouldn't be living in an Islamic republic in ten years time, the number of people killed by bombs would still be miniscule compared to the number of people killed by cars, we would all be much freer and our lives would be much more enjoyable. It's like when they stopped having bins on underground stations: It just caused a mess and now they're back and everyone's much happier.

    It is well worth contacting your MP to hassle them about every repressive measure http://www.writetothem.com/

    ReplyDelete
  9. Agree to everything you say.

    There is an air of paranoia going around the country at the moment, and I don't like it.

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  10. Agree to everything you say.

    There is an air of paranoia going around the country at the moment, and I don't like it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well said!

    "Are we moving towards a place where Muslims are going to be expected to wear some kind of readily identifiable badge...?"

    Sounds just like the old South African apartheid regime's pass system for black people.

    "Mr Moraes argues that good intelligence and policing, better aviation security and community support are the best ways to combat terrorism."

    The best way to avoid terrorism is to avoid meddling in other nation's affairs, stop trying to grab their oil, stop trying to tell them how to live, stop trying to foist alternative values on them.

    9/11 happened because of previous action taken by the US. The point is the current "paranoid" war on terrorism only furthers the ire already felt in the Muslim world. Perhaps we could best counter terrorism by seeking to understand what gave rise to it in the first instance.

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  12. Well said!

    "Are we moving towards a place where Muslims are going to be expected to wear some kind of readily identifiable badge...?"

    Sounds just like the old South African apartheid regime's pass system for black people.

    "Mr Moraes argues that good intelligence and policing, better aviation security and community support are the best ways to combat terrorism."

    The best way to avoid terrorism is to avoid meddling in other nation's affairs, stop trying to grab their oil, stop trying to tell them how to live, stop trying to foist alternative values on them.

    9/11 happened because of previous action taken by the US. The point is the current "paranoid" war on terrorism only furthers the ire already felt in the Muslim world. Perhaps we could best counter terrorism by seeking to understand what gave rise to it in the first instance.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have, quite obviously, similar worries about my country. It seems as though everyone has gone simultaneously insane. The rhetoric is incredible.

    What worries me most is how many people have decided it is hopeless. There's a very high level of "bad news fatigue."

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  14. I have, quite obviously, similar worries about my country. It seems as though everyone has gone simultaneously insane. The rhetoric is incredible.

    What worries me most is how many people have decided it is hopeless. There's a very high level of "bad news fatigue."

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  15. I worry that somewhere down the line we will end up having a full blown civil war.

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  16. As usual Ally speaks with the voice of wisdom. I nearly typed "Allah" there instead of "Ally"!
    You can't effectively "ethnic profile" against terrorists - they don't have to be young men of middle eastern origin.
    I am hugely disappointed by the government of my country and more than a little alarmed by some of the rhetoric I hear. May any God there is protect us from extremists of all kinds.

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  17. As usual Ally speaks with the voice of wisdom. I nearly typed "Allah" there instead of "Ally"!
    You can't effectively "ethnic profile" against terrorists - they don't have to be young men of middle eastern origin.
    I am hugely disappointed by the government of my country and more than a little alarmed by some of the rhetoric I hear. May any God there is protect us from extremists of all kinds.

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  18. Man, I wish I had a garden. Hell, I just wish I had a yard.

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  19. Gosh, you are right. Action is needed not just turn another page.

    Another version of the famous Niemöller poem is needed:

    They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

    Then they came for me,
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.

    ********************

    Takes me back to the 90s when they must have been reporting the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia but I didn't wake up to it, or just "turned a page". After the event I felt guilty, how could another genocide have happened during my lifetime and I didn't try to do anything abut it.

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  20. Gosh, you are right. Action is needed not just turn another page.

    Another version of the famous Niemöller poem is needed:

    They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

    Then they came for me,
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.

    ********************

    Takes me back to the 90s when they must have been reporting the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia but I didn't wake up to it, or just "turned a page". After the event I felt guilty, how could another genocide have happened during my lifetime and I didn't try to do anything abut it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ah, that is scary. And makes me realise how I idealise England, when I'm over here and don't like things sometimes. I hear myself, "THAT would never happen at home!"

    I am ashamed to be English now... Jesus H.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ah, that is scary. And makes me realise how I idealise England, when I'm over here and don't like things sometimes. I hear myself, "THAT would never happen at home!"

    I am ashamed to be English now... Jesus H.

    ReplyDelete