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Wednesday 22 September 2004 2.29am
I like to think of myself as a well educated, fairly worldly wise kind of person who doesn't get swayed by media hype/fear.
However ... last week, for the first time, when a motocycle backfired on the OKR I jumped about a foot into the air. I was convinced it was a bomb/gunshot whatever. Of course, it wasn't, it was perfectly innocent. But why, I ask myself, did I suddenly react in this way?
These backfires have always happened on a regularish basis since I have lived in London (15 years now) and I have laughed at my Irish born husband if he has jumped in the past. What made matters worse (as I am very ashamed to admit because I have many Islamic friends/aquaintances in London) was that when I looked in the direction of the "Bang" there were 4-5 obviously (dress code) Islamic people.
I feel guilty & ashamed at having suspected these completely innocent people who were just walking down the road as I was, but I am equally perplexed that I have suddenly started to react in this way.
As someone who lived through & with the IRA threats to London (& I had some close shaves as did my family) & carried on as normal, I am worried & perplexed with my current paranoia. Caution is obviously a sensible precaution but not this.
Am I alone or does anyone else feel this way? & if so, why?
Wednesday 22 September 2004 7.52am
It's funny you should mention this, as I was only discussing it with Ivanhoe recently. I have a theory (albeit a half-baked one) that due to the power of suggestion, we are all becoming more paranoid. I too remember the IRA bombing campaigns, and also remember how most people had a "**** the IRA" attitude, mostly supported by the popular press. I've also always believed that for terrorism to work, you have to agree to be terrorised. Do you remember how during the '70's and '80's, it would be reported that whenever a Hollywood star had refused to travel to Europe, in reaction to the latest act of terrorism, most people would sneer? I've noticed a complete shift in our reactions. I'm sure the reasons are many and complex, but I also believe that, as usual, we are being ill-served by the television and newspaper coverage of current affairs, which has also changed in the way it reports events. The language used is becoming more hysterical, images that editors would have shied away from using in the past, are all fair game for the front page now - I know that some people will say that they're just telling it like it is, but they leave an awful lot out: insight, political understanding, a good grasp of the facts, historical context, and a sense of proportion, all have often been abandoned in the pursuit of sales. Sadly, we go along with it, we keep buying into their simplistic vision of the world, and all the while our paranoia is cranked up.
By the way, we were just as paranoid in the past. True we were reluctant to be terrorised by the IRA, but do you remember how paranoid we were during the Cold War?
If you removed the "Islamic threat" tomorrow, I'd give it ten minutes before we promoted some new bogeyman (illegal immigrants, paedophiles etc) and it will all start again.
By the way, I'm not denying a threat, I just don't believe we're all going to be murdered in our beds tomorrow.
Wednesday 22 September 2004 1.34pm
No, not in our beds ... but maybe on a tube, bus, plane, in a disco, restaurant, cinema ... sorry guys, I/m afraid this is not about paranoia, it's reality. There are bestial Islamic terrorists stalking the earth and their bestial destruction (witness latest horror with the hostages) is an excellent reason to feel paranoid. They are out to destroy everything the West stands for, so, yes, it is another form of world war going on. London has been incredibly lucky to have so far avoided these dark forces - maybe because so many of the terrorist supporters are based here (hence the nickname Londonistan)? No, to everything there is a time, and now is the time to feel paranoid - it may help save lives. Good will of course triumph over evil in the end, but not before a lot more damage has been done unfortunately. The best way to combat today's threat is to see it for what it is - depraved, bestial terrorism. Trying to "understand the root causes" may seem like an easy way to make it - and your paranoia - go away, but believe me it will only prolong the suffering. PS - the IRA was child's play compared to today's threat.
Wednesday 22 September 2004 1.41pm
A bit emotionally charged, vic?? Have you got a personal involvement/interest in inciting race hate/identifying incidents of bestiality?

...if you press it, they will come.
Wednesday 22 September 2004 1.47pm
Well, sorry for my unseemly display of emotion Ivanhoe. I call a spade a spade and a bestial terrorist a bestial terrorist. If I am accused of inciting hatred of bestial terrorists then great!
Wednesday 22 September 2004 2.38pm
I think that is perhaps a little too black and white... Part of the reason that we're in such a mess is because we have consistently ignored the root causes of many of the problems that are escalating now. No-one can condone the atrocities occurring, but surely you can't just put this down to 'evil' - it seems a bit of an opt-out to me.
Wednesday 22 September 2004 2.56pm
Hi pockettiger, this will be my last comment for now since must dash, but in my book evil is evil - life is much more black and white than so much contemporary PC-ism wants to acknowledge. Just think about the barbarity committed against hostages in recent days and weeks, think about it in all its grotesque gory detail, and in all honesty tell me that this isn't evil. See an aggressor for who and what he is and for what his ambitions are. This long ago ceased being about poor little oppressed people simply standing up to the big bullying West - the big bully is Islamo-fascism (to call it by its rightful name) which, quite simply, wants to obliterate all infidels and is busy colonising much of the world. Note that I am specifically focusing on Islamo-fascism and Islamic terrorism rather than Islam, although that religion's mainstream is desperately in need of more outspoken opponents of those who have hijacked its name and cause.
Wednesday 22 September 2004 3.07pm
I think that is a very important distinction, thanks vicd. But I still feel that they are not the only force of 'evil' in the world. To be quite honest it all just makes me want to go to bed and not get up.
Thursday 23 September 2004 12.13pm
Isn't this exactly the kind of paranoia described in Plum's post?
Thursday 23 September 2004 12.20pm
And if you'd thought the Nazis in 1930s Germany were a major world threat, would that too have been paranoia? The P word implies irrational behaviour. Chamberlain thought it was rational to declare "peace in our time" just as Hitler was preparing for war. Well, sometimes fear of a threat, accompanied by appropriate behaviour, is highly rational. Each person must decide what is appropriate behaviour for themselves. But make no mistake, however we choose to respond does not change the fact of the threat.
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