Thursday, October 20, 2005

Old news...

...nevertheless nicely written. A week ago now, Seumas Milne wrote a very good article in the Guardian on my bête noire, this horrible Terrorism Bill. I particularly liked this passage:
In fact, under the terms of the bill, anyone who voices support for armed resistance to any state or occupation, however repressive or illegitimate, will be committing a criminal offence carrying a seven-year prison sentence - so long as members of the public might reasonably regard it as direct or indirect encouragement. Terrorism is not defined in the bill as, say, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, let alone an assault on civilian targets by states - but as any politically motivated violence against people, property or electronic systems anywhere in the world. This is not only an assault on freedom of speech and debate about the most contentious subject in global politics. It also makes a criminal offence out of a belief shared by almost every society, religion or philosophy throughout history: namely, that people have the right to take up arms against tyranny and foreign occupation. Clarke made clear on Tuesday that this was exactly his intention. He could not, he said, think of any situation in the world where "violence would be justified to bring about change".
Which means, as most people of even a vague intelligence have realised:
Clearly, that did not apply to the invasion of Iraq or the bomb attacks on street markets carried out in Baghdad by US and British-backed opposition groups before 2003. But, as the mayor of London pointed out yesterday, support for Nelson Mandela, the wartime resistance and any number of anti-colonial liberation movements would all have been crimes under this bill.
Though as we know, Blair has (oddly) been prattling that it's all a matter of common sense, clearly the old boy hasn't read the Terrorism Act 2000. But, as we all know, this law is not 'designed' to 'catch' everyone, it's there to catch a few people. It's kind of like infect a whole population with a virus, and then only giving certain people the cure, as Milne puts it:
In practice, of course, the law is intended to be used selectively: it is aimed not just at those who praise bomb attacks on the London tube, but at Muslims and others who believe that Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans and others have a right to resist occupation.
Which, of course makes me seriously worry about the fate of the anti-imperialist left. As Milne correctly notes, the likely effect of this legislation is to likely to simply 'alienate' those Muslims who serve as its target. And we all know what this sort of thing ended up doing in Ireland.

All I hope is that people can avoid the smears of not caring about public safety and oppose this terrifying law.

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