Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

The news is full of the foiled airliner attack plot in the UK.

The possible attack has as usual been followed up by an all-out assault on common sense and credulity.

One gentleman in blue told us that the attack would have lead to an ‘unimaginable loss of life’. The worst liguistic atrocity came from the Home Secretary John Reid, who said had the attack gone ahead, it would have caused a loss of life of ‘unprecedented scale’.

Now, I do not wish to diminish the threat that the would-be bombers posed, but I do have issues with the way the government and the insecurity services wish to make political capital out of it.

A loss of life on an ‘unprecedented scale’?

The Indian famines at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries caused about 30 million deaths which were largely attribitable to the British occupiers diverting food from the stricken areas and not supplying any aid.

Would this terrorist attack have produced 30 million dead?

The Asian tsunami in 2004 caused 300,000 deaths. AIDS — how many millions now?

OK, perhaps when Mr. Reid said ‘unprecedented scale’ he didn’t quite mean ‘unprecedented scale’. Perhaps, he was talking about death through hostile action, not acts of nature or politics.

Well, the Nazis killed 11 million in their death camps. The Japanese occupation of Asia accounted for two million. The Second World War took 36 million lives (Russia taking the single biggest loss, lest we forget). The Vietnam war took another two million lives, the Khymer Rouge occupation of Cambodia another two million. The US assault on Afghanistan killed more civilians than the 9/11 attacks, and the US/UK invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

John Reid: “not a lump of wood”.

When John Reid says ‘unprecedented’ loss of life, are we to assume that the man has no knowledge of the English language or that he has no knowledge of history or that he is inflating the threat to suit some political agenda?

It is worth remembering that this is the government that lied about the threat from Saddam Hussein to justify a war that was fought for America’s strategic reasons.

It would not be seemly to make light of an apparent attempt at mass murder, but it is worthwhile parsing the language of the authorities, who basically, want us to be sufficiently anxious to support them.

Blowing up airliners full of people isn’t scary enough for these people, so they have to inflate the message with words like ‘unimaginable’ and ‘unprecedented’ — the same impulse that gave us WMD and ’45 minutes’ is still at work.

And still Blair and Bush go on blaming these attacks on an ‘evil ideology’, as if they were something separate from anything else that was going on on the planet, as if after 1,500 years, Islam has suddenly come out of the closet as a psychopath.

The evil ideology, if there is one, belongs to the powermongers in the US and Europe and Israel who believe that their vision of the world’s markets is more important than the lives of ordinary people.

By chris page

Magazine editor, writer of fiction and non-fiction; exile; cat person; red wine for blood and cheese in his soul. Chris Page is the author of the novels Weed, Sanctioned, Another Perfect Day in ****ing Paradise, King of the Undies World, and The Underpants Tree. He is also a freelance journalist, copywriter, editor, cartoonist, illustrator, graphic designer, and consultant in the use and abuse of false moustaches (don’t wear them — you’re welcome — the invoice is in the mail).

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