3.13.2005

Never paid too much attention to UK news whilst I lived there but I kind of dabble now and all I seem to be reading is 'UK on terror alert' banners. Why? What's happened? Why the new terror bill?
Why is London and by extension the rest of the UK so pumped up about terrorism these days? What's changed? I can't think of a time when there wasn't a vague threat of terrorism hanging around the streets back when I lived in London. No rubbish bins in airports or train stations, myriad signs warning against unattended baggage. Three times in as many years I've been travelling on trains which have made unscheduled stops and been evacuated due to 'suspicious packages'. It was just part of everyday London life.
And now I see those same 'unattended luggage' signs appearing bilingually in Japanese trains and stations along with, at larger stations like Kyoto, armed police. Why's everyone so paranoid these days.

Something I found a little odd about 9/11, and I may be about to piss a few people off, is how all of a sudden the world was supposed to wake up and acknowledge the 'very real threat' of terrorism. Well, wait a second - we already had. We'd had it for years in Europe, in the Middle East and in parts of Asia. So what changed? It honestly felt as though, because the US had been terrorised (admittedly in an appalling and disastrous way and I'm seriously not intending to belittle that, or the many well-adjusted, non-reactionary American people out there) the whole world should have to feel a lot more threatened, had to suddenly share America's apparently new found fear and realisation that a few poeople, in just a few countries, really didn't like them.

Am I being ignorant? Am I over-simplifying? Good. Let me continue in that vein.

Time was, people were afraid of black people, so they made slaves of them - attempted to subdue them. Then it was malevolent Martians and their imminent invasion. Then Russia and communism. Then South East Asian communism. Then homosexuality, because obviously it's gay people who gave AIDS to the world right? Then we were 'concerned' about Iraq. Then we were 'concerned' about Iraq again. Now it's Iran. And North Korea. And somewhere in there was the mistrust (or fear) of Jewish people and we all know what that led to. Fear, fear, fear. We keep getting told to be scared of something. True crime shows, newspaper headlines screaming immigrant crime (and recently, in Japan, a glut of headlines announcing apparent huge 'gaijin crimewaves'. Yesterday, whilst out shopping a middle aged Japanese woman stood in front of me in a queue moved her handbag away from my line of sight - not the first time this has happened).

Occasionally we laugh at the fears of history - watching old newsreels (Watch the Skies!) and movies of the time. Weren't we dumb then, we think.

Aren't we dumb now, I think.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jefu reckons...

This is slightly off the subject, but relevant to the topic of humans goaded by the spirit of incoherencence to behave incoherently: Tony Blair & co.'s "well-being index" which "will try to quantify and index the degree of happiness New Labour has been able to bring to the citizenry."

Yes people are dumb, scared, and now people are buying books on "the secrets of happiness."

Perhaps some people do not have an ontology based on fear, but I too agree there are far too few.

3:46 午後 JST  
Blogger Indri reckons...

Hey Pik...I'm an American, if maybe not a "good" one by the Right's standards, and I totally agree with you. 9/11 could have woken us up to what happens in the rest of the world, and made us more sympathetic and more willing to look into root causes, but instead it's been turned to support an imperialist agenda that had already been in place, waiting for a catalyst.

Fear is the single most powerful tool in the persuader's toolbox; stronger than appeals to decency, charity, love, concepts of fair play, anything. Make them afraid and they will do what you say.

7:40 午前 JST  
Blogger Jefu reckons...

Addendum:

I recall also reading that the United States government's newly compiled worst-case scenario terrorist handbook (of encyclopedic proportion) refers to an unidentified body of potential terrorist groups as the "universal adversary," which I feel is many miles beyond the border of being ironic.

3:42 午後 JST  
Blogger Jefu reckons...

このコメントはブログの管理者によって削除されました。

3:44 午後 JST  
Anonymous Stephen reckons...

Hello
Whats happened to your posting. Have you been arrested for being a terrorist.

7:05 午後 JST  

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