Monday, July 10, 2006

A 'completely false' sense of grievance

Those who haven't heard about the 7/7 survivor known as "Rachel from North London", or haven't visited her blog yet, need to so ASAP.

I'll let Rachel introduce herself. From her profile:

This blog was started to provide a place to continue my BBC online diary that I started after surviving the 7/7/2005 London bombings, when I was travelling in the first carriage of the Picadilly line tube from Kings Cross to Russell - Square. The bomb went off in my carriage, about 7 feet behind me. 26 people died in that blast and 340 were maimed and wounded. 56 people died in the London blasts. Over 700 were injured. Thousands were frightened and affected by the blasts. This blog is dedicated to the victims of all bomb attacks.

Her latest blogpost can be found here, including internal and external links.

Here's just a sample:
BBC: 'Mr Blair told MPs: "If we want to defeat the extremism, we have got to defeat its ideas and we have got to address the completely false sense of grievance against the West...'

You see, though, I do feel angry. I am particularly angry right now at the rape and murder of a 15 year old girl and the massacre of her family by US troops. It is an abhorrent crime and has caused widespread rage all over the world. I am angry about Haditha, Falujah, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and all the other horrible litany of names that now stand for something wicked and wrong. I am sad and angry about the fact that every day in Iraq is 7th July, that Afghanistan is becoming yet again a brutalised battleground.

I am angry that despite the '7/7' bombers' videos explaining the July 7 murders were committed because of foreign policy, in Iraq, in Afghanistan - and far more importantly, despite reports commissioned by the Government themselves such as the Foreign Affairs Committee - the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary bizarrely still seem not to want to listen or admit any link between widespread anger amongst its citizens - and its own foreign policy.

If we have nothing to hide we have nothing to fear, we get told whenever new freedom-limiting legislation is in play. Why can our leaders not even listen at least, and be seen to humbly re-examine their own policies, and heed the counsel of calm voices who have useful criticism and advice to offer? Why do they seem to stop their ears? Why do so many of us stop our ears? Where does that get us all?

I have read with interest the recommendations of Muslims and other informed experts about how to tackle belligerent Islamic extremism, and how understanding its roots is critical if it is to be rooted out. I have read the earlier warnings that the invasion of Muslim lands, especially if done illegally and without UN sanction and popular support and post-invasion planning, was likely to cause violence and only increase the risks of terror, and bring misery, here and abroad. I see the warnings were true.

Well, we are here now, and cannot turn back the clock; we can only try to make things better. That means listening to all sensible suggestions. What harm can it do? What good might it do? Even making the effort to listen is a healing thing that might defuse some of the tensions that make us all so defensive and yes, so frighteningly angry.

I am saddened that many informed voices, and the initiatives they suggested do not seem to have not been heeded or acted upon, despite promising early publicity.

Because whilst all this anger remains at foreign and domestic policy, more and more people, including me sometimes, miss the real debate. That there is a yet another new totalitarian, nihilistic ideology abroad and what makes it so dangerous is that it uses legitimate grievances to feed its toxic agenda.

I am more than sad, I am deeply angry, that malice is in our midst, that poisonous paranoid propaganda is spewed, that an ancient religion is perverted by a few into politicised Islamic extremism via an action-heavy, theology-lite conspiracy-theory that preys on the anger and aggrievement of rootless adolescents and makes them into walking weapons of destruction. I am desperately sad that it is widely said that many adherents of Islam are not willing to use the minds God gave them to question how to live to the glory of God in a world where we are still at war with each other, and to work for peace and understanding.

I see that many are in fact doing just this, whether they are Muslim or no, but it is not so widely reported. I see that, yes, there are still those in denial, defensive, still hooked on foolish conspiracy theories and a sense of nihilistic self-pitying rage dressed up as 'concern' for the oppressed.
I am trying not to despair, today, as I read the news.
People like Hassan help.

I am still hoping that there is a better future ahead, a way for us all to honour each other, whatever our personal Gods, as fortunate custodians of a beautiful blue planet full of life and marvellous creatures and organisms, a place that so far seems to be unique in all of endless space.

I am fed up that completely legitimate criticism of current government foreign policy is portrayed by some as sympathy for terrorism and traitorous treachery. It is not. You can criticise the Government and remain a true and honest citizen. I am angry that real anger is now portrayed as' false grievance' and as fake 'victim hood'. I am frustrated that despite the exhortations by politicians to religious men and women, men and women who care passionately about justice, to 'look into their hearts' and 'engage' their minds, those representing me do not seem capable or willing to do the same - though they call themselves wise and well-counselled and even 'guided by God'.

I am sad, I am angry, today, and this blog is where I express my anger and sadness and my personal opinions. On Friday I remembered the dead, and the victims of bombs, here and everywhere else. Now I am thinking about the future, and I am thinking about how to use my life that was spared to listen and to learn and to work for hope and healing.

My leader seems, a year on from home-grown horror, to still be dismissing voices like mine as having a ''completely false sense of grievance.'' No, Mr Blair, there is legitimate grievance and illegitimate grievance. Legitimate protest was seen when millions marched against the Iraq war. Hundreds of thousands have protested against brutal policies in Chechnya, Palestine, Afghanistan. It seems to fall on deaf ears - and so people get frustrated and angry. But only 4 British citizens have so far taken this rage and made themselves into weapons of mass destruction and succeeded in killing fellow-citizens. And we do need to hold onto that fact. [Now read all of it ].


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