After Manchester, a Time for Change

I have recently become very angered by captioned pictures, posted on social media by far right groups, of those who fought and died in world wars,  or of Enoch Powell, and conflating these with the horrific tragedy in Manchester.  I find this abhorrent.

It is, in my opinion, hugely disrespectful to the memory of those who fought AGAINST the far right and fascism to use their images to promote neo-nazi bigotry.

As for the claim that Powell was right, I disagree. I suspect many who refer to the Rivers of Blood speech have never even read it in full, nor fully grasped that the quote from Virgil was a reference to his sense of foreboding, not a literal prediction of violence.  Immigration is not the root cause of terrorism and those who quote from Powell to imply it is are misrepresenting his speech.

We created terrorists, by our actions in the Middle East. Bush and Blair are the ones responsible for terrorism, not the man in the kebab shop. They are the ones who made up lies to justify invading countries, stealing their resources, changing their leadership to suit our needs, regardless of what a state it left the countries in.

We have killed thousands of civillians, including children, and sent our own soldiers to their deaths, and for what? For weapons of mass destruction that were never in Iraq, for Osama Bin Laden who was never in Afghanistan? So that we can leave Saudi Arabia, where Osama and several of the 9/11 bombers came from, and Pakistan, where many of the terrorists trained and where Osama was in fact hiding, alone? So that the actual places responsible for much of the terrorist suffering can be apparently our allies? For a war on terror that has created a whole new generation of terrorists?

No. Enough. We are the reason there are so many refugees, because we have been bombing their homes. We claim to be liberating countries but leave them in greater chaos, we claim to be stabilising the Middle East but it is more unstable than ever before. We are the ones selling arms to Saudi Arabia, where ISIS get them. We are bombing Syria, where the government is fighting against ISIS (originally named the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) but bizarrely we are attacking the Government instead.

ISIS did not even exist before we invaded Iraq.  Our military action in the Middle East does not protect us in the slightest from Islamic extremism. It causes it. To quote David Bowie, we are “putting out fire with gasoline”

When the French fought back against Nazi occupiers we called them the Resistance. When those in the Middle East resist and retaliate against our occupation of their countries we call them insurgents and terrorists.

Our military strategy of the past 20 odd years has been a total failure that has benefitted only our arms and oil dealers, while everybody else suffers. And who do we blame all this on? Not our warmongering leaders, who caused it all, but instead, fuelled by a media that likes to stoke discontent and division, we blame immigrants.

Powell was wrong. Immigrants have contributed massively to the UK economy in the past 50 years. People who settled here in his time became our doctors, our nurses, our bus and cab drivers, our teachers, our lawyers, our shopkeepers, our co-workers, our neighbours, our business customers, our trading partners.

We are a nation of immigrants and have been for centuries. The Scots came originally from Ireland and interbred with Scandinavians (Vikings), the English came from Germany. The Welsh have been here longest, but mixed with several other Celtic tribes from northern Europe. Our cultural diversity is our strength, not our weakness. Immigration does not undermine that, it affirms it. It is who we are. We are a mix of cultures and backgrounds and always have been.

What happened in Manchester was terrible and despicable but it was not our immigration policy that caused it, but our military policy. We created a generation of young people who think like Salman Abedi. It is time to stop creating more of them.

Islam is not the problem, and never was. Muslims in the UK and abroad have condemned the atrocity. Many Muslims were in the thick of the rescue process. ISIS are as representative of Islam as the IRA were of Christianity. They have abused and twisted it and the division and mistrust this has sown is exactly what they want. They are not a Muslim group, but a terrorist group. Those two terms are absolutely not synonymous.

We got it wrong. Badly wrong. Everybody has suffered because of past mistakes. Now is not the time to make it worse. Now is a time for change. This is not about political correctness or fear of offence. This is about moral correctness.

Agree with me or not, it is up to you, but please don’t disrespect the memory of those who served in the military in the world wars by abusing their sacrifice to make your own political points, especially ones so at odds with their struggle.

At around the time of Powell’s famous speech my father, who was ex RAF, was a bus driver  in a large city and had colleagues from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and other countries. This was when most of those who returned from WW2 were still of working age. None of his work colleagues who were born in other countries were any threat to him, nor to me.  He neither feared nor hated them.

Until a few years ago I worked for a multinational company that had people from 50 countries working in one building. I don’t know what religion they all were, as I never asked. it wasn’t important. It made no difference to how we did our jobs.

I strongly dispute any suggestion that my father or those he served with fought to protect me from them or how he would be upset that they are here.

I like to think they fought for a better world.  Whether they got one or not is open to debate.

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7 thoughts on “After Manchester, a Time for Change

    1. Wrong. Did Islam create the IRA? Did Islam create Andres Breivik? Did Islam create Timothy McVeigh? No, Islam did not. Nor did any religion. Religion is an excuse behind which terrorists hide. Terrorism is more political and ideological than religious. You cannot hide behind a book, any book, while pointing a gun or exploding a bomb.

      1. Essentially yes it is. Terrorism is using violence and intimidation to achieve political goals. As I already said, the religion is just an excuse behind which they hide. No religious text tells followers to blow up innocent children. Terrorism is not religion, but a twisted corruption of it.

      2. Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”.
        Quran (9:123) – “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.”
        Please. Tell me more about how no religious text tells followers to blow up innocent children.

  1. The Bible contains a similar passage quite explicitly saying that people who follow any other religion should be killed. That doesn’t make it right to use that as excuse to go around killing others. It doesn’t make Christianity evil either.

    “If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them ……. then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. ….. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-17:7)

    The problem with quoting from any religious texts, regardless of which religion, is that it is very easy to cherry pick those parts that support whatever point you wish to make, while ignoring those that supersede or contradict it.

    Take the Bible, for example. Many people would say it preaches an overall message of love and compassion, but there are some very uncomfortable passages in there. According to Leviticus 24:14, blasphemy is punishable by stoning to death. Seen anyone getting executed lately for exclaiming “Jesus!” when they witness something surprising? No? Of course not, not just because murder is illegal, but also because the Bible says elswhere “Thou shalt not kill”.

    Sticking with Leviticus, trimming your beard (19:27), getting tattoos (19:28) or mixing fabrics in your clothing (19:19) are all bad sins, which suggests hipsters are screwed.

    Ever sold a house (25:23) or eaten a prawn cocktail (Deuteronomy 14:9–10)? You are a sinner, if you follow isolated bits of the Bible without looking at the whole overall message. However, both the Quran and the Bible preach the overriding concept of Love Thy Neighbour.

    My overall point is that, regardless of which religion you pick on, you will find things in its scripture that you support or oppose, or that are enshrined in current law or outlawed. Picking isolated passages out of context and ignoring opposing ones is exactly how terrorists are able to corrupt and twist their text to justify their actions. However, by ignoring others and doing other things that are explicitly banned, while claiming their actions are religious in nature, it is they who are the greater sinners. Neither the text nor the religion are at fault, but rather those who abuse it for their own ends.

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