Monday, July 25, 2005

Death by Suspicion

Jean Charles de Menezes died on Friday. He was 27 year old. He was not killed by hate filled terrorists with their "evil ideologies" but by armed undercover police officers, police officers who work for us.

There is to be an investigation, and it seems sensible to wait until it has reached a conclusion before speculating as to the exact circumstances of the shooting. The police are doing a very difficult job in very difficult circumstances. Public statements since the shooting indicate that the officers in question followed an authorized procedure in dealing with a suspected suicide bomber. For these reasons, I'm not inclined to blame the officers involved in this horrible affair.

One thing is already clear though. The democratically elected government of our country has authorized a "shoot to kill" policy with regard to suspected suicide bombers. There has been no public discussion of this policy, no debate as to whether to instigate such a fundamental change , no government announcement that such a change had occurred within our police forces. It was "announced" with 8 bullets fired into an innocent man. I am sick to my stomach.

There are certain aspects of British society which ought to be non-negotiable. Those who say that the suicide bombers have forced our hands are cowards*. They are cowards who's actions aid the terrorist's campaign. These are actions which destroy that which they are intended to protect.

There are certain risks which we must face in our society. There are certain actions which can never be justified if we are to claim to be a civilized society. Our best defence against these attacks is to be proud of our society, to stand up for what we believe, to refuse to give in. We must say to the terrorists "you may bomb us, poison us, terrorize us, but while there is one British citizen alive on these islands, YOU WILL NOT CHANGE US!". If we do not, we have already lost the "war" on terror.

It seems that instead we are becoming that which we fear. If it really is a battle between us and them, we have taken another step towards becoming like them.

Blair apologized today. If you haven't seen it, watch it online via the link. Listen for when he says "but". He knows it's inexcusable. Consider also the length of the statement before and after the "but". His apology is mainly a justification for his own mistake in allowing a "shoot to kill" policy, a mistake which has cost the life of yet another innocent. Apology or apologist? I know what I think.

*I live 500 miles away from London so I'm not directly affected by what's been happening there recently. It's easy for me to sit and pontificate. I genuinely believe I'd feel exactly the same way if a bomb had gone off in my street.

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