I’m old enough to remember the IRA, the UVF, the Red Army Faction, Scritti Politi and the Miners Strikes. Both of them. All of them, except possibly the band, were supposed to be the worst thing ever, dedicated to destroying our way of life. Then the Ayatollah, Sadam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, the guy in Korea and all the other Worst Things Ever.
I grew up near Warminster, where the School of Infantry was and is. The police said there had been a car-chase through the grounds of Longleat house, them chasing the Bader-Meinhof gang. Except Detective Chief Superintendent Dennis Greenslade said that was bollocks when I interviewed him. Whether or not, an Army officer opened his front door one morning and someone shot him dead. It was a time when, when I found a six-wheel armoured car in a shed at the back of the Territorial Army centre where I went to shoot every Thursday evening, I wasn’t really surprised. It’s how things were.
As I got older other things happened. I went to Israel and walked into the middle of an ambush. I went to the US and had police sticking a pistol in my stomach. Years later the US Navy drew on me again. None of these things are fun. My step-sister walked down the street in London and minutes later a car she had walked past exploded. A friend walked past Liberty’s window shortly before it blew out into the street. I was close enough to another bomb to hear the bang and see the black smoke billowing up afterwards.
And none of it works, because governments do not give a stuff whether or not civilians get killed. That’s the way it is. They can’t, apart from anything. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise. It wasn’t me that said that, it was Lenin, who knew a thing or two about terrorism.
The IRA blew up shed loads of stuff in the UK. It didn’t work because it isn’t supposed to. I don’t understand why people don’t understand this. Dead civilians are dead civilians. People don’t like it but they don’t do anything about it, except run around screaming about freedom while they take some more of their own away. Which is what they’re supposed to do: be terrorised. This isn’t difficult stuff to understand.
The IRA got what they wanted when they blew up Canary Wharf. Suddenly, with the prospect of massive financial damage to the City of London instead of massively permanent damage to ordinary people having a night out, the British government revealed they’d been lying to their own population for years: they did talk to terrorists after all.
I’m not advocating bombing the VAT office, convenient though it might be. But I am sick of the gibberish being spouted on the TV and the radio and the press about how “France is at war with terrorism.” It doesn’t mean anything. It’s like saying you’re at war with the sky, or water, or turquoise.
We kill people every day of the week. We, the UK and the USA, killed over 100,000 civilians in Iraq, without any argument from anybody except maybe it was a lot more people than that, but then, we didn’t count. They literally did not count.
We are asked to believe more and more preposterous nonsense each time. The Twin Towers fall down because a fire burned through steel but it wasn’t hot enough to burn one of the hijackers’ passports. Amazingly and astonishingly, in a terrorist attack literally the day before the G20 conference on terrorism, the day after the entire British press was crowing about the extrajudicial murder of a man their searing analysis dubbed Jihadi John, in case the public couldn’t say his real name and had to be fed baby talk instead, another passport was found at the scene of the crime. A Syrian one, amazingly conveniently, one that even some of the press are now saying may have been fake. So just please, don’t bother telling me about how much you care about it, unless you care about all of it.
I am fed up with this. I am fed up with being lectured on the meaning of global war by people who live with their mum. I am fed up with people advocating the mass murder of other people when their experience of being shot at is playing Call Of Duty. I am fed up with morons killing each other. I am fed up with being told ‘we’ are better than ‘them,’ that when we kill them it’s fine and when they kill us it’s murder and the sky is going to fall in unless we kill more of them. I am fed up because I thought Alf Garnett was dead and instead he’s alive and well on social media. I am fed up with people wrapping themselves in a flag one day and not giving a toss about the murder of the same number of other people literally the day before, when for example, 121 people were killed in Yemen by an Allied US and UK airstrike on a civilian hospital, the same way another hospital was bombarded by Allied artillery for 90 minutes last week.
We still pretend to wonder why these things happen. It’s because they always have and they always will until we stop doing them. Until we stop thinking of them and us. All we ever have is us. All of us. Whoever we are.