Following this post, it now seems very likely that the London bomber WERE British – although there has, as yet, been no indisputable confirmation. Four men from West Yorkshire have been identified on CCTV from King’s Cross, where they are believed to have arrived by train at around 8:30 on Thursday morning. Their houses are being searched for evidence.
The blame, obviously and ultimately, rests with the murderers themselves, and anyone who aided and abetted them.
Some people have additionally laid blame for provoking the attack with Bush and Blair who, the basic argument runs, stirred up shit in the Middle East, providing terrorist recruiters with an unending stream of images of western soldiers charging all over the shop. I can understand the argument – and even sympathise with it, to an extent. After all, if you deny that the occupation of Iraq has spawned more terrorists, how do you explain the difference in the number of terrorist attacks in that country before and after the occupation? But at the same time, ridding Afghanistan of the Taleban and Iraq of Saddam are both undoubtedly good things. Some inhabitants of those lands must surely be grateful, even if the liberation process hasn’t been anywhere near as smooth as could be wished.
Others, including people in the comments to my liveblog of the attack, blame Islam itself. This argument is also – to a very slight extent – understandable. After all, there is a very prominent minority within modern Islam who are vocal in their hatred of the west and everything it stands for, and who have called for jihad against us and our values. The Qu’ran can, to an extent, be selectively quoted to back up their perverted interpretation of their faith. But then so, were one so inclined, could the Bible. Christianity has also gone through its stages of calling for the death of unbelievers. Christianity too has tortured and massacred in God’s name. Because Christians have now (mostly – cf. the KKK) got beyond that stage, does that give the western Judeo-Christian states the right to get all uppity? Not all western states gave women the vote at the same time; Britain abolished slavery years before America. These things take time, and over time, moderation usually wins out – it’s nicer for everyone.
But for homegrown terrorists, surely they need more provocation than that? Events in distant lands may arouse anger. Religious invective may fuel feelings of self-righteousness. But most terrorists normally have some more personal reasons for their actions. There is usually some rationality behind their irrationality. They can usually, in their perverse way, justify their actions to themselves. It takes more than the promise of a few virgins and eternal life in Heaven to provoke someone to kill themselves and others – if not, everyone would be blowing themselves up all the time.
These terrorists could not have been bred in London. Accusations of our capital, which has shown its multicultural unity better than ever in the last few days, being “Londonistan” are blatantly silly, though have – as always – some truth to them. As the cliche goes, there’s no smoke without fire. There ARE a lot of radical Muslims in London. The city has played host to some deeply unpleasant preachers, the likes of Abu Hamza and his ilk, who spew hate from their pulpits, stirring up radical anger.
But it is this very tolerance which makes London-born terrorists unlikely. They can give vent to their anger and hatred freely. The very civil liberties which the government is trying to stifle in the name of protecting us – the right to free association and free speech – give an outlet to the rage of a disaffected Muslim youth. They can chant, they can shout, they can rave – and they can get publicity for their cause at the same time. But deep down they know that if they push it too much – as Abu Hamza did – they will find their voices stifled. They have no desire to stir up more hatred of Islam, or they will no longer be allowed access to an audience.
West Yorkshire, on the other hand, has been the site of even more stirring of hatred between communities. Hatred stirred by one of the least British groups in the entire country – the BNP.
It was in West Yorkshire that BNP leader Nick Griffin stood for election just two months ago. His high-profile campaign, played just the right side of the race-hate laws, played much on fears of Muslims. When I commented on Griffin’s campaign back in January, this blog attracted a small but determined group of BNP supporters, determined to demonstrate that immigration and Islam are to blame for all this country’s ills.
It was in the same region that race riots occurred a couple of years ago, something the BNP were keen to capitalise on as an indication of the volatility and danger inherent in Muslim youth, even while knowing that they had done much to fire them up.
If you were a young Muslim, British born, being told by a party that professes to be the party of Britain, of the nation, that you were not and never could be British, how would you feel? Would you feel included in society? Would you feel any love for your fellow countrymen? Would you even consider them your fellow countrymen?
For most people born in Britain, it is not hard to love this country. We may moan at times, we may get pissed off, but at heart we know it is up there as one of the best in the world – for its stoicism, much lauded in recent days, for its history of toleration and inclusiveness, for its continued ability to punch above its weight on the world stage – even if we sometimes disagree where those punches are landed.
It would take an extended campaign of lies and distortions to convince me that Britain is anything other than Great, even while I can see its flaws. This is precisely what the Muslim population of West Yorkshire have been subjected to by the BNP for the last decade.
It is in the BNP’s interest for Britain’s Muslim youth to rise up and cause trouble – it would, in their view, prove their twisted take on this country to be right. And so the BNP have been doing their best to provoke, to raise hatred, to cause the people they have long claimed to be dangerous into actually acting in the ways that Griffin and his kind have always professed that they would.
Already, the BNP’s policy has begun to work. After “retaliatory” attacks on Mosques in London and Liverpool over the last few days, the anti-Muslim violence has now spread, with more attacks reported in London, Birkenhead, Bristol and elsewhere today. They have already started to use images of the destroyed bus on their political campaign material, in one of the most callous propaganda actions I can remember.
The BNP are as happy about these attacks as those who support the terrorists are. The BNP have benefited more from the attacks than anyone. If the bombers were from West Yorkshire, the BNP helped provoke these attacks as much as anyone.
So, if you’re looking to apportion blame beyond the terrorists who carried out the attacks, blame the BNP.