Today: A ‘plot to blow up planes’ is apparently foiled, and Heathrow airport shut down.
And my first reaction? Utter disbelief and a sigh of resignation.
Update: For the record, I reckon this plot probably was real – but my first reaction was still “that’s bollocks”. Desensitising people to this extent through the constant “oooh! Be scared!” announcements is utterly counterproductive.
It does, however, mean that I can carry on with my life utterly unphased by the fact that lots of people want to blow me to shit.
More coherent thoughts: We used to be told that we will not give in to terrorism. We used to be told that we will not change our way of life in the face of this new threat. Now we are told that we MUST change our way of life.
The threat of terrorism is very, very real – you’d have to be a fool to deny it. But the clue is in the name – the point of terrorism is to cause terror.
The terrorists themselves have been remarkably inefficient at scaring the bejeezus out of us, which is their prime modus operandi. They have successfully struck in the West remarkably few times – 9/11, Madrid, 7/7. With the exception of 9/11, the death toll caused by these psychotic maniacs has been, in the grand scheme of things, insignificant, and even the property damage and disruption caused has been relatively minimal.
Instead, it has been our own governments who are terrifying the populace with their constant warnings and announcements of foiled plots; it is our own governments who are causing disruption through airport and railway closures.
Terrorism thrives on the oxygen of publicity. “Martyrs” look forward to being remembered and noticed. So why do we constantly do their PR work for them? Why do our governments keep using their publicity machines to propagate the terror that the terrorists want to cause?
Yes, we obviously need to act quickly and effectively to prevent more attacks. I don’t want our governments to sit back and do nothing to prove the point, and I’d far rather we have a few more Forest Gate raids, non-existent Ricin plots “uncovered”, and a few more people arrested for allegedly trying to buy radioactive substances that don’t even exist than see one single other person killed for the twisted beliefs of a tiny, rabid minority. But I do dispute the effectiveness and sense of the current tactics, which appear to be little more than to ensure that we all have a good scare every few months, supposedly to keep us on our toes.
One thing I do agree with Home Secretary John Reid about is that we can’t afford to get complacent. But the more often you get scared, the less impact those scares start to have, and complacency begins to set in.