Sunday, March 14, 2010

Five Years Ago: Terrorism does not threaten our way of life

From a posting on Liberal England made five years ago today. I think it stands up tolerably well:
"Destroy our way of life?" Think about it. Can you imagine Tony Blair going on the BBC and saying something like "The terrorist outrages of recent days leave me no alternative but to declare Britain a fundamentalist Muslim state"? Of course not.

Terrorists kill people, which is why they must be stopped. They do not threaten our way of life. The slaughter of 9/11 did not begin to undermine Americans' confidence in the rightness of their system of government. In fact it seems to have had just the opposite effect.

Perhaps we are more insecure in Britain. Certainly, there is something telling about the way that a terrorist attack on America has had such an effect on New Labour when we in Western Europe have been living with terrorism for decades.

There is a tendency to deny this history. People argue that present-day terrorism is something new because it attempts to kill as many people as possible. This has the perverse effect of playing down the crimes of the Provisional IRA and turning them into a cuddly 1970s' answer to the Kray Twins. "They was real gents. People was safe when they were planting bombs round here. They never touched kids. Well, technically they did...."

What can threaten our way of life, of course, is hasty legislation like the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

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