Wednesday, October 18, 2006
It is in this light that we have to understand the government's strategy for tackling the antiwar movement: they need, as it were, to bring the threat of death immediately to bear, to have it breathing down one's neck. This is why the government drove tanks through Heathrow Airport in the run up to war. This is why the Home Secretary raised hell about a mostly bogus plot involving 'liquid explosives'. This is why the topic of Islam and its putatively problematic relationship with the West is eternally on the lips of politicians. Not only do they wish to break the growing opposition of the British public, (dramatised in the seething hostility of the organised working class experienced by Blair in his TUC speech), but they wish to intimidate Muslims, to send them retreating into their households in fear of the BNP, to have them begging to be allowed entry to New Labour's protection racket.
So, things like this can happen:
“As I was walking past a bus stop I was surrounded by about five youths, one of them a girl. They stood and waited for me then followed me down the street shouting abuse, telling me to take off my veil.
“They then repeatedly said that Straw has made it illegal so I had to take it off. They shouted ‘Jack Straw’ repeatedly. I think Straw has made racists think it’s OK to abuse people like me.”
And then Ruth Kelly can "remind" the Muslim community about the extremist threat from the BNP. And of course, the government has a brilliant line on this, drawn directly from the late Pim Fortuyn: their attacks on Muslims are about defending liberal values, hence you've got liberal feminists imagining that this picking off of veiled Muslim women, a beleaguered minority within a beleaguered minority, is about liberating women. Thus are people diverted with endless pedantries about whether the veil is strictly practicable for the purposes of communication. (Parenthetically, it cannot be a coincidence that 'communication', the idealised model of which involves the transparent, free exchange of information between bourgeois subjects, is an obsession of businesses everywhere. The ideology of open, tolerant societies involves the supposition that reducing one's communication is something that only intransigent trade unionists, and freaks, and hermits, and monks do; communication is what open, tolerant societies demand, on pain of ex-communication. One should, therefore, expose oneself to the tolerance of the panopticon, embrace one's liberating visibility to the surveillance government, and throw off the yolk of oppressive privacy). It is not, of course, about liberating women. It is about creating an atmosphere of murder. It is about a strategy of tension.
Anyway, for some light relief from firebombings, racist attacks, death threats and an ongoing war that has killed on a genocidal level, here is Steve Bell: