We still have the naked propaganda of Jon Snow, David Cameron and the eurozone, but at least Muamarr Gadaffi is dead
Very little in Latin Europe (where I’m on holiday at the moment) works as it should. Among the very few exceptions to this rule are the bars and restaurants, where all the people and products involved are beyond excellent. This tells the traveller a great deal about the culture, as do the long queues in the banks, the overpriced wifi that goes at beach-donkey speed, and the seeming inability to repair anything. Southern Europe is good at putting stuff up, but unable to grasp that things will need servicing and repair. Consequences of actions don’t figure large in most people’s thinking this far south – hence the current surreal mess where the eurozone used to be.
But when it comes to the ramifications of political policy, and the discernment of propaganda bollocks, Anglo-Saxon thinking is infinitely more naive than anything down here.
I remember vividly as a young boy watching the old BBC 6 o’clock news one evening in the late 1950s, and seeing the sprawling figure of Iraq’s Colonel Kassim, lying in a large pool of blood with multiple gunshot wounds. His hair was matted with brain matter, and he looked pretty much of a mess. The revolutionaries who finally shot the dictator showed the image on every news bulletin for the next three days. Some years later, they too were dispatched, and then strung upside down from an open lorry…before being paraded through the streets to the delight of the swaying, wildly cheering crowds. A few regimes after that came Saddam Hussein; thanks to the presence of disciplined Allied soldiers, his life was spared for trial. But his death by the noose later was also marred by the giggles and taunts of his executioners.
Yesterday we were treated to Muammar Gadaffi’s blood-spattered head and shattered body being loaded into a van, before he too was shot in the head (at a hospital, for some reason) and then shown off to the multitudes in the customary manner. Back home in the Channel Four studio, Jon Snow treated us all to a delighted smile, before rounding off the bulletin with the words, “And so the Arab spring claims its first dead dictator”. Gosh, what a jolly jape for all concerned it must have been.
There is a dimension of Snow that has always worried me. His brother Peter strikes me as fairly normal (until you put him in front of the latest election gimmick) but Snow the Younger has written, said and done some odd things in his time. He has also altered a lot of news, and quite a bit of his past – but that’s probably just me being picky; after all, if three Prime Ministers in a row are allowed to do that with brazen disregard for our intelligence, then why not the populist news anchor?
Despite the fact that he usually wears a modest expression suggesting he is just about to receive a Nobel Prize for something or other, Jon Snow is very much your card-carrying Guardianista – a bizarre melange of visceral delight in censorship, and utter naivety about what the result of that is likely to be. For despite all his travels in and experiences of the Middle East, Snow is still able to convince himself that, from the blood of these revolutions, nothing more disturbing than respect for the Rule of Law and unrigged democracy are likely to emerge. The bloke must be just this side of delusional.
Stepping from the entrance of Number Ten into Downing Street, the Prime Minister spent thirty seconds trying and condemning the late Gadaffi for the Lockerbie attack (probably accurate, if somewhat cavalier) before saying what a fine moment this was for us all. He would’ve done better staying inside to read Peter Oborne’s masterly description, in the Torygraph on Thursday, of the number of tribes, factions and undemocratic Parties who will now be vying for power in the newly ‘free’ Libya. David Cameron too – while no Guardian lover in any shape or form – represents the naivety of hailing Arabia the Wonderful, having twenty-four hours earlier trodden on the manicured hands of British democracy by ordering his MPs to oppose an EU Referendum….that he himself had promised us during 2007, while in Opposition. The man from Tooting Norton, he like to say whatever occur to heem to say depending on circumstances, oh yes, he is very very nice man, fine upholder of Arab rights, Allah Aqbar!
One interesting facet of Gadaffi’s grisly demise is that Tony Blair has lost a client and a valuable contact. Seeing this from the Arab viewpoint (well, it makes a change if nothing else) it must be hard for them to have any respect at all for a nation that licks a tyrant all over when he is strong, and then rejoices in his death once defeated. It is, of course, another open goal for Ahmadinnejhad, and he will use it to huge propaganda advantage before too long.
Propaganda, one could say with heavy-handed irony, is not always what it seems. The dramatic picture of a poor gypsy holding up her beloved crucifix while flame-throwers raged in the background at Dale Farm dominated much of the press on Thursday. But the woman concerned was not a gypsy, nor even a Catholic: she is a Muslim ‘activist’ – actively engaged in setting up an actively dishonest publicity shot. She did not live in the camp, and she is nothing to do with the dispute; her profession is that of a child counsellor. But she is that most common of sights over the last fifty years, the demonstrator.
Just as Travellers travel as little as possible, so it is with demonstrators: they never demonstrate anything beyond a penchant for martyrdom, lost causes, bad science, violence towards the police, and perversion of the facts. As a youth, I demonstrated against both Harold Wilson and the Vietnam War, and then got a job. If and when anyone tries once again to bail out the bankers, I will join any demonstration about it anywhere at any time – up to but not including any demo containing idiots wearing Guy Fawkes masks, and more dangerous idiots with placards demanding that capitalism be smashed. I am all for giving the bankers a fair trial before reaching a considered verdict of guilty. But I am implacably opposed to those renegades who once followed Moscow, still represent the fascist 0.0003% of true believers, and will use any event anywhere to show how right they are about everything.
For me, demonstrators (and getting real here for a second, I mean the extremists you could spot at fifty paces) do actually achieve something very powerful: an example for the Suited Redneck Guys, who then show them to the media at every opportunity, and suggest that the SRG way is the only possible alternative to what we have now. This is the greatest bollocks of all, but it works on a lot of people, and perhaps it has also worked on me: to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to be a member of any demonstration that would welcome Vanessa Redgrave as a member.
Yesterday, I found myself engaged in an activity that Vanessa Redgrave wouldn’t dream of being a part of: mass-market, bucket-shop air travel. Ms Redgrave gets whisked through the side entrances and into the Upper Class lounges (so would if I had her money) but on this particular brief jaunt with family, it’s a bargain break at the Timeshare in warmer climes. Not for Vanessa the joys of pointless security queues, scrambles for a seat by the exit, screaming kids, and the inflight ‘service’ of Queasyjet. Not for Britain’s Hanoi Jane the 13 year-old tattooed blondes and the obese second partners of their similarly dyed mothers. And the endless snaking, shuffling queues of holidaymakers who just want a change from the daily round of their dwindling supply of money being pissed away by Whitehall and Westminster.
Air travel is a ghastly experience made almost completely unbearable by the politically correct security systems the Establishment have inflicted upon us since 9/11. I have blogged about this before, but as The Slog has recruited some 27,000 new visitors since the last time, another airing cannot do any harm.
Imagine a police murder investigation where forty witnesses had identified the suspect as a black-haired Asian woman wearing a bright red and gold sari carrying a small handgun. And imagine the outrage if, at the bus station via which she was expected to make her escape, queues were stretching out to the suburbs while police painstakingly searched both genders and every possible demography of passengers waiting to catch a bus home.
Rule Number One of every police murder investigation is to ascertain and then pinpoint the likely physical and psychological nature of the killer as closely as possible, as quickly as possible. Unlike PC Plod, the pc Establishment refuses to apply this rule to airline security for fear of giving offence….while being very happy to inconvenience millions of innocent passengers every day of the year. It is crazy to continue doing so, for three major reasons.
First, there is no targeting – and thus no crime is solved. Has ten years of heightened security unearthed a single new suspect? I can’t remember any such event.
Second, it plays into the hands of Islam’s extremists. It says “OK, you have us by the balls, from now on, we will be aware of your desires every day of our lives thanks to there being long queues everywhere – and so few litterbins, frustrated Ministers of the Crown are forced to seek them out in obscure public parks.” It says to them, in fact, that they matter.
Well, they don’t matter: not to me, not to 90% of British Muslims, and not to anyone that isn’t training to kill on behalf of Allah right now in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As a gesture of defiance, we should stop all the security nonsense, but strip-search and luggage-inspect every likely suspect we find. This will be condemned as racism – what else? – but actually it would be sound police work.
Security will be more lax, and planes will be bombed. Tough. Better this than such a draconian intrusion on the right of every Western democratic State citizen to travel in peace and comfort.
Third, hugely inconveniencing any Muslim fellow-travellers in the wider Islamic population would rapidly reduce their misplaced sympathy with the cause. And put pressure on those donating to it to stop. Some people find this a peevish thought, but they are wrong. One side-effect of 9/11 barely referred to in the media is that it doomed the IRA. From 9/11 onwards, American donations to any terrorist organisation ceased. There was a very good reason for this: Britain’s security services demanded it from the White House, in return for our help to stamp out Islamist terrorism. Within eighteen months, the IRA was at the negotiating table, having renounced its weapons.
Today’s terrorist is tomorrow’s dictator. Tomorrow’s dictator is next week’s bullet-riddled body. Next week’s revolutionary is next month’s dictator. On and on it will go, until equality before the Law via an independent Judiciary is invented.
In the meantime, don’t hold out much hope for Arab democracy.
This post sent to you courtesy of subterfuge and bribery. A neat summation, in many ways, of life in the ClubMeds.