Friday, July 08, 2005

London bombings: Why everyone is right

This is not one of those "If I had caught my usual train..." posts, but I was in Tavistock Square on Monday. I remember pointing out the blue plaque for Charles Dickens on the front of BMA House. Tonight I saw it again on the television news.

I lived in London for a couple of years in the 1980s, working for some of the time in the big department stores at the height of an IRA bombing campaign. When there was a bomb warning - and they were almost daily events - we each searched our own little part of the building and then carried on with business as usual.

This gave me some modest understanding of what London must have been like in the Second World War, and I am sure it is the spirit that the city will show after the terrorist outrages yesterday.

Whether the bombs will change British politics is hard to say. The striking thing about the reaction so far is that everyone sees them as a vindication of his own position. Those who support President Bush's War on Terrorism and those who opposed the invasion of Iraq are both more sure than ever that they are right.

But then events often have that effect on people. So we should not be too surprised when a right-wing American site suggests that "one of the operatives involved in this morning's bombings in London was recently released from the prison at Guantanamo". Even though this is surely a case of wishful thinking on its part.

And so, I suspect, is the claim by the Australian High Commissioner in London that the bombs are the work of a "group of anti-globalisation protesters or anarchists" and designed to disrupt the G8 summit. Perhaps they don't teach the geography of the motherland in Australian schools any more?

Meanwhile two contributors to Fox News sounded positively gleeful that all this nonsense about Africa and global warming has been put in its place:
I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.
Read the full exchange on the Antagonist's blog.

Thanks also to A Logical Voice and Sideline SquawkBox for leads.

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