A knife crime, not an act of war

There’s a good piece on Spiked about yesterday’s horrible murder in Woolwich:

…rather than treating this as a knife crime committed by two deluded men, the authorities and media have treated it as a declaration of war. The powers-that-be have gone on to an actual war footing in response to it. PM David Cameron flew back from a political gathering in Paris, and is currently chairing a meeting of COBRA. It’s the second time COBRA – the government’s national emergency committee that convenes in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms – has met since the stabbing occurred. Politicians say we will ‘stand firm’ in response to what happened, as if Britain had just been invaded by a foreign army rather than having witnessed a horrible knife attack.

…You know what would have been a far better response? If Cameron had stayed in Paris, if COBRA had never met, if the two stabbers had simply been arrested and investigated by the police alone, and if their act of pseudo-political knife crime was covered on page 4 or 5 of the papers, not on page 1.

It’s a terrible crime, of course, but it isn’t a crime of the same magnitude as the 7/7 bombings. By treating it as such, all we’re doing is guaranteeing that sooner or later somebody else will be hacked to death by killers demanding passers-by film them for posterity.

7 thoughts on “A knife crime, not an act of war

  1. Squander Two says:

    What distinguishes this crime from “a knife crime committed by two deluded men” is that the men were motivated by an ideology which we know is shared by others, and that it is not an isolated incident but part of an ongoing pattern: Theo Van Gogh, Kurt Westergaard, Lars Hedegaard, numerous others — and that’s just the similar cases of men being attacked in Europe, before you start to include things like Benghazi, which the perpetrators clearly see as part of the same campaign, and they should know. Such attacks are also frequently organised by groups of like-minded people, so we won’t know for a while whether this was just two men committing one attack off their own bat or the first two men committing the first attack of several. Under such circumstances, it makes perfect sense for governments to issue statements on the matter. Indeed, if the Government treated this one as just an ordinary stabbing, as if it were no different from a mugging, and then another attack occurred within a few weeks, they would be raked over the coals for having ignored the problem.

    Brendan O’Neill is ridiculing the idea that the men were foreign, but the fact that they were British is surely the point, and why people get worried about this. There is an ideology in the UK that successfully encourages British men to kill other Britons. That’s not the same thing at all as a robbery gone wrong or a psychopath who should be in an asylum. It’s a real political problem, so I have no problem with politicians trying to solve it. (Whether the current lot might be any good at solving it is another question entirely, but O’Neill is attacking the fact that they reacted at all.)

    I do get pissed off when people call it “terrorism”, though. The victim was a soldier, so the target was military, so it was a war crime, not terrorism.

  2. Gary says:

    I think the issue here is that the media has rushed to judgement. It’s possible that this murder stems from ideology, from deep hatred of what we’re doing in Afghanistan etc. And it’s equally possible that this murder comes from complete fucking nutcases who’ve dressed their fundamental nutcasery up in Al Quaeda’s clothing to make sure they get in the papers (which wouldn’t be a new thing: the IRA and other organisations had their copycats too). We don’t know yet, but the media (and social media) decided pretty much immediately that this was muslim terrorism. Either way it’s delivering exactly what they want: if they’re nutcases they got a global stage; if they want to spread terror and persuade other men to do the same, they’ve achieved that. Mission accomplished.

    > I do get pissed off when people call it “terrorism”, though. The victim was a soldier, so the target was military, so it was a war crime, not terrorism.

    This time, yes. Doesn’t the Al Quada manual urging people to use low-tech weapons, to bomb shopping centres etc, claim that everybody’s a legitimate target?

    It does seem as if Al Quaeda and Anonymous have a lot in common. Obviously I’m not suggesting that Anon is a terror group, but they’re similarly amorphous, concepts rather than organisations where the only membership criteria is wanting to be a member. Fascinating and terrifying.

  3. Squander Two says:

    Yes, the membership criterion is a huge problem, and the reason why any analysis based on who met whom and where the funding comes from is fundamentally wrong-headed. I don’t envy any world leader the task of adapting systems which were all developed to deal with officially declared and documented wars between nation-states to deal with an organization like Al Qaeda. But I have a lot more respect for the ones who at least try than those who simply refuse to accept that the paradigm has changed.

    I don’t have a problem with the media taking these men at their word regarding their motive, but I am pissed off that they all reported the full speech that the bastards gave to people’s cameras. Surely the bare minimum punishment for a crime like that is that you don’t get to broadcast the message of your choosing.

  4. Squander Two says:

    Mind you, turns out Michael Adebolajo was deported from Kenya for terrorism. Is that really not a reason not to let a prospective immigrant into the country? Jesus wept.

  5. mupwangle says:

    He’s not a potential immigrant – he’s a british citizen. He was born in London. Isn’t it quite difficult to refuse entry to your own citizens, if they’re deported?

  6. Squander Two says:

    Ah, I see. Still, it’s as difficult as you choose to make it. I’m all for revoking the citizenship of and deporting subjects who choose to become enemy combatants.

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