Thursday, September 30, 2004

Head lines

This very thoughtful article points out a truth that is often lost in the furore of comment over Iraq: there is a popular uprising against the occupiers with broad support. (Which it turns out, Bush was warned about, but of course, as we know, he ignores anything that does not accord with his preconceptions on any given subject.)

It's forgotten because a handful of foreign terrorists are able to manipulate the agenda, both of the news and of politics in the west. They do it by the ferocity of their actions.

I've said it before: bomb a bus and you're just another suicide bomber, forgotten the next day; bomb a school and you're news for months.

What is unfortunate is that this reading of how things work, although effective, is not sophisticated enough. As Ramadani points out, the occupiers use the terrorists as an excuse for brutally suppressing a popular rebellion. They say "Well they chop off heads, they deserve it" and of course, that is eaten up by the public.

The school crisis in Beslan was such a gift to the Russians that you almost wonder that they didn't fund it themselves. They are able to use it to muddy the waters of their colonial war in Chechnya. They are able to claim they are fighting savage terrorists, rather than suppressing a people's desire for autonomy.


Why care about Iraq? I know, I often show indifference to events that happen elsewhere. But the killing there is done in my name, by troops that represent me, by young guys from towns like the one I grew up in, that I still think of as home, by guys like this, sent there by liars to die for fuck all and break his mother's heart.

His mother said: "If my children had the same regard for honesty as the prime minister, I would be ashamed."

I am ashamed. I want my people to be better. I want to be able to say I am English and for it not to be something to apologise for. Not because I'm patriotic, not because I have lost sight of the arbitrariness of the borders that make my home country a place separate from others, but because that place exists and it is part of me, willy nilly, and I want what I am part of to be a force for good, however pathetic that sounds to the realpolitikers who find it easy to hate and hard to love.


Post a Comment

<< Home