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Friday, July 08, 2005

Cross-posted from DailyKOS...

A friend of mine in London speaks.

My friend Jan is a Canadian who lives in London, hence she has the nickname Canadibrit amongst my friends and net-friends. She wrote a wonderful essay in her Live Journal blog (don't laugh) which I felt deserved a wider airing. Take it away, Jan...

Open Letter To A Terrorist @ 09:40 am

Dear People Who Blew Up Our Public Transport Yesterday,

Well, that was quite the stunt you pulled, wasn't it? I mean, seriously -- four explosive devices, and possibly four lives (if suicide bombers were involved), and you managed to severely disrupt the entire London public transit system. But then again, so do leaves on the tracks, the wrong kind of snow, the wrong kind of rain and people looking at it funny.

Oh, yeah, and you killed people, and hurt lots more. Way to go. Someone Up There is going to have words with you about that, particularly if you did it in Their name.

Honestly, guys, I have a vague understanding about the point of terrorism. It's supposed to be about instilling fear into the population and the government in power, predominantly so that any demands you have will be met or any causes you may support will at least be recognised. It's a power play; we all know that. And to be fair, you went about it in a pretty impressive way. Or would have, if you hadn't picked London as your target. Let's look at London's history, shall we?

1666 -- the Great Fire of London. A baker in Pudding Lane forgot to douse his oven and started a conflagration that burned for five days and destroyed most of the city.

7 September 1940 through 16 May 1941 -- the Blitz. The Germans bombed the UK, focusing mostly on London.

4-7 December, 1952 -- the "Great Smog". A high-pressure weather system trapped pollution and smog near the ground, and respitory and cardiac distress killed some 4,000 people.

June 1982 -- The IRA begins a bombing campaign that will last for one and a half decades by blowing up Hyde Park and Regent's Park. Between this point and the cease-fire in 1997, the IRA bombed Harrods, Downing Street, the City and Canary Wharf, and that's just the main ones.

18th November, 1987 -- King's Cross station burns, trapping thousands of people inside.

April 1999 -- a nail-bombing campaign from a group known as the White Wolves, targeting the pavement outside a supermarket on the high street in Brixton, a car boot in Brick Lane and the Admiral Duncan pub on Old Compton Street.

I think you see the point I'm trying to make here. London is a city of survivors, of people who can turn around, look destruction in the eye and say, "Meh; we'll sort it when things have settled". And then they do. People get hurt, people get killed, but they will not be beaten. These people remember Winston Churchill, no matter how young they are.

So what were you trying to achieve? I've heard nothing about your cause. I don't know your agenda. And you've certainly made no demands, because the laughter of a few million refusing-to-be-cowed Londoners hasn't reached me yet. Seriously, I want to know why you did it. If it was in the name of Islam, you're a lunatic. If it was because we were involved in the Iraq war, you're punishing the wrong people. If you want anything from us, you won't get it. After all, you haven't got the reaction you wanted, so why expect anything else?

And the final question: was it worth it? Was this reaction -- was the small amount of carnage, the mild, transient fear that you did manage to instill in people, the panic of a man who doesn't even run this country (because let's face it; Bush looked terrified) and the questionable notoriety of being the cause of yet another public transport fuck-up -- really worth the expense, the loss of your own lives if you were suicide bombers, the risks? Was it really worth it when people are banding together and muddling through, and frankly creating the exact opposite atmosphere to the paranoiac culture you apparently want?


A London denizen

The original LJ post is at this URL:

I think that says it all, doesn't it?

Cheers, Jan!

Michelle aka MamasGun (DailyKOS and Plastic) aka Ms. Geek (here and at Slashdot)