London bombings, one year on

by Maria on July 7, 2006

Like many others, I’ve spent much of this week thinking about the bombings in London on 7th July last year. I want to mark the day but find it hard to write anything that’s not superfluous or self-regarding. So I invite you to read the thoughts of anonymous blogger Rachel from north London who was caught up in the bombings, and perhaps to consider signing a petition calling for a public inquiry into the bombings and their aftermath.

{ 7 comments }

1

etat 07.07.06 at 1:26 pm

Superfluous or self-regarding? How so? Maybe your way of marking the day requires more time to articulate. Maybe having thought about it for much of the week is going to have an effect next week, or over the coming months. Seems like that’s a fine way of ‘marking’ the event: through reflection and subsequent action at whatever points are appropriate.

It is quite clear – from the way that the news media are returning to various issues – that social and political dynamics have changed in the last year, and that this pause for reflection will contribute to further changes. So it’s enough to simply join in the process of thinking about it. That’s a mark.

2

derek 07.07.06 at 2:49 pm

Much of this week? You have my sympathies. I’ve managed to go through the whole week, and even today, without getting maudlin over what was a perfectly normal terrorist bombing in my city. Have we forgotten the regular attacks from the IRA? That bullet-shaped tower on the skyline should be a daily reminder of the Baltic Exchange, St. Ethelburga’s church, and the people’s lives the Irish terrorists destroyed that day.

With any luck, this will be the last year we get this lachrymose, Diana-level festival of sentimentality. And what propagandist came up with the unutterly stupid “seven seven” name? It sounds like a fizzy drink.

3

Bob B 07.07.06 at 8:25 pm

I’m hardly one to award laurels to Blair’s government but I think he is making sense when he resists holding a public inquiry on the London bombings 7/7.

At this point, it is doubtful whether the public benefits of an inquiry would out-weigh the (usually large resource) costs. Perhaps there were flaws in following up intelligence already gathered about some of those directly implicated in the bombings but as so often in continuing anti-terrorist operations there are frequent problems for the security services of over-stretch and having to make critical choices about operational priorities based on partial and uncertain information.

We really need to ask now whether an inquiry would be of more help to potential terrorists than the rest of us.

4

Aidan Maconachy 07.08.06 at 4:34 am

Yes, there has been a hiatus of sorts, a pause for reflection that isn’t only a sign of respect for the London dead, but also a consideration of cause and effect with respect to long term outcomes.

The greatest danger as I see it now, is the tendency of some to hype the threat and engage in random demonization. The steady drumbeat that comes from the Bush fortress, is propaganda playing on understandable fears. The dressing up of clowns and amateur villains as threats-to-civilization has begun to wear thin, as has the Foxification of security scares.

The “us and them” world view is one Bush initiated and vigorously pursued. That he is now back peddling in reaction to a kick in the teeth, can’t undo the damage created by a deeply flawed response to a national emergency, that should have been handled a lot more intelligently.

We seem to be in waiting mode now, wondering when the next atrocity will occur.

Here in Canada there has been much horn tooting by the Tories over a police bust that resulted in the arrests of some 17 Islamists. They purportedly were out to do bad things; sawing the head off Stephen Harper on Paliament Hill being one of their more symbolic objectives. On closer inspection though (as with the London bombers), we find that they are mainly inept amateurs and wannabees – anomalies in their own communites – more familiar with surfing the internet than acquiring guerilla skills in one of the AQ terror camps.

The greatest danger is to isolate the larger Islamic community by default, as a result of the activity of a few extremists.

One of the best thoughts I have read lately on ways of relating to an Islamic community under seige, comes from a post on Harry’s Place by one David t …

“We must promote, confidently, a sense of ourselves as friends, compatriots, and neighbours: a vision which is capable of challenging the simplistic and reductionist notion of a worldwide brotherhood of suffering Muslims …
we must stop treating Muslims as a monolithic group, and must insist that politicians stop treating with self appointed ‘community leaders’: particularly those from a Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat background.”

5

bad Jim 07.09.06 at 1:48 am

If I may venture a useless observation…

What went around immediately after the event was the jape that the French were such sore losers (London just having bested Paris over hosting the Olympics). It was universally assumed that the Brits would keep stiff upper lips and carry on, as they had always done, and so they did.

The vast gap between the American and British responses would be even more instructive if Blair wasn’t always quite so intent on truckling to Bush.

6

y81 07.09.06 at 7:48 pm

I dunno, Aidan, half the bloggers and most of the commentators at CT have trouble treating Glenn Reynolds or Ann Althouse as “friends, compatriots and neighbors,” so I doubt that they are going to have much luck establishing that kind of relationship with people who don’t share their educational background, basic political beliefs, etc.

7

Aidan Maconachy 07.10.06 at 5:21 am

Yes, it’s a proposal that could be regarded as naive I agree. I guess he’s referring to neighborly good will and common decency in part. He’s also focusing on connections between individuals, rather than view Muslims as part of an Islamic monolith. All of which seems entirely reasonable.

Lines of communication need to be opened up, and not the old cross-cultural events either, sponsored by some cultural outreach group. Such affairs tend to induce a self-conscious understanding that fades once the event is over.

There is no Muslim community to speak of where I am living presently, but when I was in Toronto I had a lot of opportunities to make these connections. I got to realize pretty quickly that most of the Muslims I knew where really only nominal practitioners of their faith. Most saw themselves as Canadian first and were just as keen to chat about the fortunes of the Maple Leafs as I was. Basic stuff really.

Increasingly in web chat, I’m hearing the term Muslim used without nuance. Often it has a pejorative ring to it. I’m familiar with that mindset also because that was the position I took a while back.

Irshad Manji has a number of interesting things to say about these matters, as does Salman Rushdie, but I agree that it’s not the type of thing that comes easily, or naturally, given the differences which you pointed out.

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