Posts Tagged ‘Paris Attacks’

Armed Police and the Threat of Political Oppression

December 30, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political reported a few days ago the government’s latest plan to tackle the terrorist threat: armed police. It seems one of the Paris murderers had pictures of Birmingham on his mobile, suggesting that the Islamists were planning an attack there. The government has stated that, at present, it takes too long for armed police units to respond, and are considering arming the police as that they can react immediately to a terrorist attack, or threat of one.

See Mike’s article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/27/police-have-been-used-by-politicians-as-tools-of-oppression-should-they-have-guns-to-fight-terrorists/

Mike raises the point that armed police have been used as instruments of political oppression, and asks whether anyone thinks it would be a good idea to give them guns now, with this present highly authoritarian government.

It wouldn’t. In fact, it would be a disaster, and potentially make the situation much worse.

Before we come to the issue of armed police being used to suppress freedom and civil liberties, there is the whole issue of how far the public can trust armed police to protect the innocent. And there’s a very large question mark over this. There’s a massive controversy in America at this very moment over ‘Black Lives Matter’, a protest movement that points to the disproportionate number of Black Americans who have been shot and killed by the police unnecessarily. These have included people, who have been unarmed, or were simply running away from the police. Some were violent, but did not present such a threat that lethal force had to be employed. They could simply have been restrained by the cops using their own physical force, or batons and tasers. Unarmed Whites have also been needlessly killed by the rozzers, but the Black community is particularly subject to this kind of lethal policing. This is possibly due to Blacks being perceived as innately more violent, thuggish and threatening than Whites.

And we’ve seen the same phenomenon here in Britain. There were the riots nearly four years ago over the death of Mark Duggan, the criminal who was shot by the police despite being unarmed. And when I was at school, back in the 1980s, there was a huge outcry then after a Black child was accidentally shot by a police officer while searching the child’s bedroom during a raid. There was also another incident in my home city of Bristol, where the cops shot a man, who they believed was armed. He was carrying not a firearm, but a chair leg, and shouting, ‘it’s a chair leg’, when they shot him.

The problem in America is that the police are too willing to use firearms in preference and other, less extreme methods of capturing or subduing a suspect. And I’m afraid that if we arm the police, they will follow this same precedent. And it concerns British police officers as well. Last summer I was talking to the partner of a British police officer, a woman, who has herself tackled violent offenders. He told me that his wife has successfully disarmed potentially lethal situations using simple negotiation, though she had used her own strength when necessary. She believed, along with others in the force, in policing by consent. You can only successfully police a community when that community trusts you. This will may be lost if officers come to rely too much on their firearms. And as far as the American officers, who automatically shot the suspect in response to a potentially violent situation, she had nothing but disdain. They were badly trained. She took pride in the fact that, no matter what dangers she encountered during her working day, she could end her shift knowing that nobody had died.

All this is likely to be jeopardised by arming the police, and especially if they are supposed to be armed against the threat of militant Islamism. There’s already massive discontent amongst Black British about the ‘stop and search’ policy in London, which has seen a disproportionate number of Blacks stopped and harassed by the Fuzz as potential suspects, simply because of their ethnicity. If this attitude is transferred to Muslims, it will provoke similar levels of discontent amongst them. At the moment the authorities are helped by ordinary Muslims, who do report individuals or actions they find suspicious. This will be lost if Muslims believe they’re under suspicion, simply because of they’re faith, with the ordinary and moderate lumped in with the extremists. It’ll isolate those, who still want to help the authorities, who will risk being branded ‘chocolate Muslims’, the Muslim equivalent of the term ‘Uncle Tom’. And it may alienate some even further, driving them into extremism rather than away.

And armed police in general are a real threat to freedom. The communist authorities in the Eastern bloc used military police units to clamp down on civil unrest and demands for democracy. And Putin is pretty much still doing it in today’s nominally democratic Russia. This government is all too willing to turn them into an authoritarian force. Remember the way the police were used to crush the miners’ strike in the 1980s? Blair and the Tories have passed successive legislation to ban and suppress protest marches and demonstrations, especially in front of parliament and Downing Street. There are any number of account of the cops using excessive force against marchers during riots. And one of the provisions in the government’s anti-trade union legislation, which fortunately didn’t get passed, was that strikers and picketers should have to give their names to the police. This was too much even for David Davies, on the Right of the Tory party, who declared it to be ‘Francoist’. And so it is.

The present government are highly authoritarian, and are doing everything they can to stifle dissent and democratic questioning of their authority. Given past examples, it’s absolutely certain that they will used an armed police force to suppress what remaining liberties we have. They’re pretty much Fascists already. They just wear business suits instead of black shirts and jackboots.

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Tomonews: ISIS Suicide Bomber Cries before Attack on Syrian Town

December 28, 2015

This is a grim little video from TomoNews, the news channel that produced such entertaining features as a computer-generated, rampaging Gordon Brown, and ISIS recruits kicking each other in the testicles in Pakistan, and ISIS and al-Qaeda scrapping and hitting each other like the Three Stooges in a competition over which one was the hardest and most brutal. This video is a grim little report showing a prospective suicide crying, and having to be comforted by his fellow murderers. He was apparently afraid his attack would fail. They tell him to have faith in Allah. So off he tries in his crawler, and blows himself up shortly after.

I’m reblogging this for several reasons. Firstly, it dispels the myth ISIS are trying to put out about themselves, that they are utterly unstoppable killers without any human feelings whatsoever. That’s what they’re saying to scare their enemies, which is now just about everybody else in the world. As this clip shows, they still feel fear, a fear that can reduce even the most determined butcher bent on his own destruction and those of others to tears.

That demonstration of a perfectly reasonable, human emotion, albeit perverted to serve ISIS’ ends – he was crying because he was afraid his mission would fail, rather than at the brutalities and horrors he and his loathsome comrades have already committed, also show something deeper: the artificiality and squalor of the terrorists’ suicide training itself.

The American anthropologist, Scott Atran, has pointed out that religious faith alone does not provide sufficient motivation for people to become suicide bombers. Instead, murderous groups like ISIS carefully cultivate and indoctrinate their prospective suicide bombers. Part of this involves separating them from the rest of the fighters, and developing a special group bond within them. It’s fair to say that they’re brainwashed into doing so.

And I’ve mentioned before the moral squalor of the authorities that carry out such brainwashing, whether in ISIS or not. I know Muslims from the Middle East, who despised Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, not least because of the way he encouraged young boys to serve as suicide bombers in the Iran/Iraq War in the 1980s. He handed out to them mass-produced, cheap keys, telling them that they were the keys to the kingdom of heaven. ISIS does pretty much something similar.

And remember what Owen Jones said in the video I reblogged yesterday about the Paris attacks. The people drawn to ISIS aren’t paragons of virtue. They’re a bunch of sad acts and losers, thieves and criminals. Many of them have also suffered from depression, which shows that ISIS also exploits the mentally vulnerable.

The more you see ISIS, the less invincible and impressive they seem. At their core, they’re just pathetic bullies, trying to scare their world with their brutalities into believing their something greater than they are.

Owen Jones: Paris Attacks Do Not Show Multiculturalism Has Failed

December 27, 2015

This is another great political video I found over on Youtube. It’s Owen Jones responding to his critics about the Paris attacks. Several of them had written in asking whether they had shown that multiculturalism has failed.

Jones is the author of the excellent Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, and here gives an excellent defence of multiculturalism after the horrors of the Paris massacres. He points out first of all, that France isn’t quite a multicultural society. The official stance is that everyone in France, regardless of their ethnic origins or religious faith are French, and have to conform to certain French norms. He points out that the French census does not include a section on religion. I’m not surprised. The official French stance on the question of the relationship between religion and the state is laicism. This means something like ‘secularism’. France is a secular republic where there is clear separation between church and state.

Jones also points out that Islamist terrorists themselves tend to come from atheist households, and may only have a very tenuous understanding of the religion they claim to defend. As shown in the purchase of Islam for Dummies through Amazon by one ghazi for the faith. He sees the a more immediate cause for their hatred and violence in the marginalisation and despair of the banlieus, the ghetto-like suburban developments, which are the main areas for migrants and their families around Paris.

He also makes it very clear that whatever ISIS and the other Islamists claim about being hardened warriors, striking terror into their enemies, the truth is far different. He describes them unequivocally as ‘losers’. That’s what they are. Many have problems with depression, theft and other forms of criminality. They’re less than impressive. Islamism just seems to be a channel for the hatred and violence within their own already dysfunctional, screwed-up personalities.

Young Turks: Terrorists More Motivated by Politics than Religion, Study Finds

December 15, 2015

This is another video from The Young Turks, which is extremely relevant as it takes apart the view that terrorists and suicide bombers are motivated solely or mainly by religion. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago, and the founder of that university’s Centre for Security and Faith, studied the motives of suicide bombers and other terrorists going back to 1980. He found that in 95 per cent of cases they were far more motivated by politics, and particularly the desire to retaliation after a military intervention, often a military occupation. The attacks were an attempt to take or retake territory that was important to the terrorist. This was the dominant motivation for terror attacks, including the recent massacres in Paris.

Uygur and Iadarola point out that suicide bombing are the tactics adopted by the losing sides. America doesn’t use suicide bombers, because it has the advantage of drones, tanks and aircraft. The Japanese also turned to using suicide tactics in World War II – the Kamikaze pilots – when they were losing, not when they thought they were winning, as at Pearl Harbour. The same is true of other organisations using suicide bombers, like the Tamil Tigers.

They also make the case that while religion is part of it, like Christian fundamentalists, who hate gay people, this is more of a case of someone looking for and adopting a worldview, that confirms their existing beliefs. They also cite Lydia Wilson, a journalist for The Nation, who also interviewed ISIS terrorists. She found that they had a ‘woeful knowledge’ of even the basic tenets of Islam, and had difficulty answering questions about sharia law, jihad, or even the caliphate. But such knowledge wasn’t necessary to support the ideal of fighting for the caliphate. As could be seen from the actions of one British ISIS fighter, who ordered ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon.

The Turks compare their ignorance of Islam with that of Dear, the right-wing fundamentalist Christian, who shot staff and patients in an attack on Planned Parenthood. They also point out that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings have been carried out by secular organisations and individuals. The Turks also point out that military intervention is not necessarily a bad thing. The Korean War succeeded in keeping South Korea free of Stalinism, and World War II was, obviously, a military intervention, that was exactly the right thing to do. Suicide and terrorist attacks do not necessarily make the original military action wrong. They’re just something to be expected as a consequence.

This report sounds pretty much spot on, from what I understand about terrorism. Bassam Tibi, the German-Egyptian writer on Islam and the problems it is experiencing through modernisation, states in his book Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change states that the Egyptian Islamist terrorist he personally interviewed in Egypt had only a superficial understanding of Islam. A few years ago, the anthropologist Scott Atran also pointed out that violence and terrorism were not solely the product of religion. He pointed out that the organisation that had made the most use of suicide bombings was the Tamil Tigers, who were secular organisation. Atran himself is an atheist, and he made this point as a rebuttal to the claims that religion was mainly responsible for such violence by members of the New Atheism, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

A~s for reading one’s own political views into a particular religion or holy book, that’s always been a problem. It’s called ‘elective affinity’, and sociologists of religion have acknowledged and studied its importance. One example I was taught at College was the declaration by a 19th century British Tory that ‘the Bible is Conservative through and through’. It’s a classic example of the way a person with strong political opinions believed he had found them in his holy book through projecting his own prejudices and opinions onto the text.

As for the political motivations of many terrorists, there’s an interesting review of a book on the Lobster site by Carol Shaye, one of the officials involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Shaye has since become extremely cynical about the whole process because of the massive corruption at all levels of Hamid Karzai’s regime. She found that the Taliban fighters she interviewed almost exclusively joined because they felt it was a solution to this problem.
Of course, the Taliban isn’t. It is, however, a brutal and murderous collection of genocidal maniacs and mass-murderers. But the point remains.