Sadly, though, there is no time to stop for proper communal lamentation. Just as with the attacks on the US, shock and confusion are already pushing out sense and reason. By the time we fall silent for two minutes to remember the dead, all over the land an unguent will have spread - a compound of homilies, witless assertions, facile explanations and excuses, political bombast, all delivered in sincere and simple sentences to comfort a dazed population, which in its present state is easily aroused to intemperate judgements and actions.
Tony Blair says this attack has nothing to do with his decision to go to war in Iraq. In some ways he is right. (Lord, how long has it been since I felt able to write such a sentence?) If the bombs were planted by franchised Islamic fascists they don't give a damn about Iraq past or present, or other political struggles which have worthy objectives and an end point. Liberation and democracy is for girlies; they kill and die for nihilism, if that is not tautological.
Yahia Said, a Muslim himself and a specialist on Iraq at the London School of Economics, is perceptive about these rebels without a graspable cause: "What is their goal?... is there anything we can do to dissuade them from doing it again? There is no political answer to these questions. The crimes are attacks against humanity perpetrated by psychopaths for whom murder is not a means to an end but rather the end itself. There is nothing redeeming about these crimes."
So in that sense the PM is right and the people who wave around the accusation that this was done in the name of Iraq are just deluding themselves. They need to look pure, hollow evil in the eye, for that is what this is. How the killers got to become so dislocated and perverse is for psychoanalysts and sociologists to study. But please don't grace them with purpose or place them with legitimate liberationists in Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere.
Violence, though always dreadful, is nevertheless justified used tactically by freedom fighters against the powerful. Mandela is one of those who never renounced the use of arms. But the groups who blew up innocents in Kenya, the US, Madrid, Egypt, Bali, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia and London, the murderers of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan and hundreds of Iraqis want nothing except blood and panic. I can imagine their crazy eyes glued to the screen as they watch the mayhem they cause, a reality video game with piercing screams making them feel in control.
But while he is entitled to stamp out the false connection between Iraq and the London bombers, Blair cannot expect us to ignore the links between what London is going through and the tragedy unfolding in Iraq as a result of his reckless policies. Nor can he be forgiven for deliberately twisting the wider confrontation taking place globally between the imperialist UK/US axis and the populations whose frustration and anger is exploding against these allies.
The French philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote in 1994: "At a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelise in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realised itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, famine and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity." Both are worse today and global communication means we all know it.
The PM says these wretches hate our values and way of life. Western countries have evolved admirable cultures and institutions, but is even self-regarding Blair proud of some Blairite values? The values that say our saintly leaders can drop cluster bombs and other brilliantly effective weapons on the women and children of Iraq? Values which accept the drugging and torture and imprisonment of young men in Guantanamo Bay and in friendly countries? Values which permit Israel and Russia to violate human rights with impunity or proper censure? Values which enable us to ignore the fact that every day dozens die in bomb blasts and through military actions in Iraq? Values which even today will not halt arms sales to conflict areas? It is called business, I believe.
An Amnesty report out last week confirms that weapons from the Balkans and Eastern Europe are being transported to Rwanda and Congo by British-based firms. Such self-interest and hypocrisy parading as virtue turns my stomach. Imagine what it does to clever and hopeless Muslims who already feel the weight of historical failure and impotence in the current global landscape.
The leaders of the bombers know these pulsating grievances and the trapped rage, and they use it to justify what they do and to turn the most vulnerable into foot soldiers.
Islamist apologists say we should try to comprehend why extremism appeals. After London, such brotherly loyalty is iniquitous. A bomb in Edgware Road, which is a souk for British Arabs? These self-loathing psycho-perverts hate all Londoners, and Muslims most of all who suffer the retribution which comes with the aftershock.
What an impossible situation for ordinary Muslims, trying to live as best they can, in an unjust world order and with growing malignancy towards their faith. They work painstakingly against this antipathy and bombs blow up in their faces. Once more they are expected to denounce the killers and to defend their faith and good credentials. It is an oppressive demand never made on others. Did the Irish in Britain have to deliver such statements every time the IRA did their ugly business? Did the Pope apologise? These murderers are made of the same stuff as Baader-Meinhof, the Oklahoma bomber, or even Harold Shipman. They are distorted beings outside human norms, not the guerrilla army of Islam.
The reassuring news is that British Muslims are refusing to take on any more generic guilt and refusing with equal vehemence to "understand" the slayers of blameless citizens in their midst. Terrorists depend on co-operation from the disenchanted. If this is withdrawn, the rats will be squeezed out to face justice. But if Blair pushes for the politics of vengeance and authoritarianism, expect more blasts and a ripped nation. We can but pray.Reuse content