05 June 2010

Violence and values

All yesterday Sky News was still full of the Cumbria shootings. They seem obsessed with them, to the exclusion of all other news. Now they are interviewing survivors and witnesses. A fellow taxi driver who was shot, a little boy who witnessed the man on a bicycle being shot. They tell their stories calmly and matter-of-factly, in contrast to the breathless hype of the interviewers, going on about how terrible it is for such events to take place in a small and close-knit community in a beautiful part of England.

And then there are the expert counsellors, talking about the lasting trauma of those who witnessed these things, and how long it will take the community to get over it, and it is all so over-the-top. British soldiers have been doing such things as Derrick Bird did every week for the last few years in Iraq and Afghanistan, but nobody talks about the trauma they have caused in the small closs-knit communities there. Nothing about the trauma of the people on the ships taking aid to Gaza, hijacked on the high seas by Israeli pirates. There is something hugely disproportionate about it somehow.

I suppose it is understandable that Israel wants to impose a blockade on Gaza. Bombs are expensive, and running an air force to deliver them is expensive. So when you use bombs to break things you want them to stay broken. When you bomb people out of house and home you want them to stay homeless. If people bring aid to help people to rebuild their homes, then you are going to have to go to all the effort and expense of bombing them again to make them homeless again. It's cheaper to stop them from rebuilding their homes.

When I was a child at school we used to amuse ourselves by kicking holes in anthills, and watching the termites scurrying around to repair the damage. And when they had just about repaired it we would kick holes in it again, easier the second time, because the mud was still damp and hadn't hardened yet.

And it seems that grown-ups are no different, and just as cruel. It's just that they can afford bigger bombs, and attack their own species. And no, I'm not overlooking Hamas as some have accused me of doing. Hamas and Likud are both terrorist organisations, playing a zero-sum game[1]. As my former blogging friend Facebook | Simon Hewitt says, "in spite of being utterly opposed to the attack on the Flotilla, will not be demonstrating tomorrow. Reason? : I'm just sick of marching alongside Hamas supporters and people chanting 'we are all Hezbollah'. My enemy's enemy is not my friend. My enemy's enemy is an authoritarian, misogynistic, murdering bastard." And they continue playing zero-sum games because it suits the more influential spectators for them to go on doing so.

So when it happens in Cumbria, Shock! Shock! Horror! Horror! from the Brit media. But when British soldiers do it elsewhere, they are heroes. Perhaps they should take Derrick Bird's coffin in procession through Wootton Bassett.


[1] terrorist n. one who favours or uses terror-inspiring methods of governing or of coercing government or community (from The Concise Oxford Dictionary of current English, Fifth Edition).

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