The Blitz Spirit

(Telegraph-UK) Charles Moore - * Yes, there was a Blitz spirit. And, yes, the emergency services were magnificent. The strength of a civilization is shown not only in its great monuments and works of art, or in its famous people: it appears also in the instant, instinctive behavior of millions at a moment of crisis. Yet there seems to be a radical disjunction between our heroic capacity to deal with the immediate effects of terrorism and our collective refusal to confront what lies behind it. The effects of this disjunction are, literally, fatal. * It is true that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, or involved in terrorism, but if people really believe that the words "Islam" and "terrorism" must not be linked, then we have little hope of catching the killers, of understanding how the terrorism works, or of preventing new atrocities. * When Britain was afflicted by Irish republican terrorism, most Irish people repudiated that terrorism. It was nevertheless the case that the great majority of the terrorists - more than 95% - were Irish, or of Irish origin, and they drew overwhelmingly on Irish people to help and hide them. * An article appeared during our recent election campaign in Muslim Weekly by Sheikh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi. It calls for the replacement of British parliamentary democracy with "a new civilization based on the worship of Allah," attacks the Conservatives for being "in the hands of an illegal Jewish immigrant from Romania," and speaks of the "near-demented judaic banking elite." These views are expressed by an educated Muslim in a Muslim publication. * So we have in our midst a religious minority in a state of ferment, and somewhere inside it a number of people who want to kill the rest of us. This country has suffered a greater land-based terrorist death toll than it has ever known before. Instead of subjecting our entire population to the loss of liberties and increase of bureaucratic power which identity cards involve, we should develop a strategy that works out much more precisely where the danger lies, and seeks it out. * We all love it when the British people shrug their shoulders and move stoically on in the face of attack. It is a powerful national myth, and a true one. But it contains within it a great danger - a self-fulfilling belief that there is nothing to be done to avert future disaster. That's not the Blitz spirit - what made London's suffering in 1941 worthwhile was that, in the end, we won.

2005-07-13 00:00:00

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