Thursday, July 06, 2006

7/7 reflections and denials

While nearly a year passing since the 7/7 London bombs there's naturally been some reflection on 'where we are', 'what we have learned' and so on. While one or two appear to either think progress has been made or at least is likely to be made, I found most of them fairly depressing.

That Abdul Wahid of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain should blame UK foreign policy is completely unsurprising but what is dispiriting is the number of well-meaning liberal sorts that appear to agree with this analysis. This post, for example, not from the ultra-left, is fairly typical in the way it re-heats the usual stuff about 'legitimate grievances' and the 'root causes' of terrorism and so on.

The constant refrain behind most of them is that the government is 'in denial' about the invasion of Iraq and the connection this had to 7/7. British involvement in Iraq has probably made the UK one of the top three or four targets in the world for Islamist terrorists of various kinds. I doubt very much the government is unaware of this, although is unlikely to say so for reasons that should be obvious.

Given that 'denial' is being used in a quasi-Freudian way to denote a detachment from obvious reality, I have to say it's not the first time I've thought that those making this diagnosis could do with a little 'therapy' themselves.

Physician, heal thyself. For what is it if not denial to ignore the fact that several countries, including Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt, who did not participate in either the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq have nevertheless been targets for extreme Islamist violence? Should it not be patently obvious that even if one could accept the extraordinary idea that a country's foreign policy should be framed with first priority given to the appeasement of terrorists, the removal of this purported 'root cause' is demonstrably no guarantee that further atrocities would be averted?

And is there not something we could describe as denial in the refusal by some to accept what used to be considered basic principles of moral responsibility? The bombers themselves are transformed into 'victims of alienation' and therefore considered, at best in this analysis, to have diminished responsibility. This is further contextualised by the victims losing something of their status as such, with the sense that at least some commentators are operating with a concept that comes very close to the notion of collective punishment.

I suppose it would be too much to expect people to change their minds because I certainly haven't changed mine. There is something profoundly wrong with a society where quite such a large section of 'liberal' opinion reacts to something like 7/7 by immediately asking the question, "What did we do wrong?" I wouldn't call it appeasement; it's something more akin to self-loathing. You disagree? That's because you're in denial.

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