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Terrorism: you can get it in a can

Lenins's Tomb | 11.08.2006 23:18 | Lebanon War 2006 | Anti-militarism | Terror War | Birmingham | London

The Blitzkrieg is upon Beirut, but we are supposed to imagine that little Nazis are flying over our heads.

It's past midday and the BBC have found nothing else to talk about yet, except for the weather (ominous banks of apocalyptic clouds rolling across a nihilistic sky toward an Islamofascist sun). Literally, all other programming has been suspended. Pundits with no opinion are being begged to find one, quickly. Arrests here, searches there, endless queues of disgruntled tourists and business travellers looking pissed off. Endless speculation is compounded by the suggestion that the fact that there is speculation goes to show how chaotic the situation is. We are then told that there is some suggestion that there were liquid explosives to be hidden in fizzy drinks cans and smuggled aboard planes.

Terrorism is insidious. It gets into everything. Spectacles. Mobile phones. Baby milk. It gets under your skin. Feel your body for any suspicious lumps. I confidently expect The Sun to inform us tomorrow that the alleged plot involved red-green chewing gum that one mashes together to get an explosion "just like in Sky's movie spectacular Mission Impossible, to be shown tomorrow night at 9pm".

Terrorism is great crisis television. John Reid MP makes a statement that not only restates what has already been said countless times, but has a ridiculously staged, ham-actor feel: 'I would like to thank the Great British public, the repository of our best surveillance; I would like to thank visitors for their patience; I would like to thank the security services; we are not complacent and that's why we have exaggerated the threat level in this case'. He then throws it open to the press for questions, adding "just give us yer name, rank and serial number". The Sun asks if this is the biggest threat since World War II as Reid claimed yesterday, and if it was a problem with an extremist wing of Muslims and if therefore Muslims have done enough. Now we know what to look forward to: "and you march for these people?"

The narcissism is astounding. Lebanon is actually being terrorised by Israel, Iraq is actually being terrorised by America, and this merciless, cruel, sadistic, reckless destruction is easily subsumed into the fabric of daily life - the first allegation of a threat of a potential attack in Britain at some unspecified point in the future, and suddenly we are encouraged to luxuriate in the fantasy prospect of annihilation. Knowing full well that the building next door is not about to be flattened under several tonnes of explosives, we are encouraged to pretend it's World War II and evince the stoicism of Blitz survivors. The Blitzkrieg is upon Beirut, but we are supposed to imagine that little Nazis are flying over our heads. Don't be complacent. Look out your windows. Keep an eye out. Don't forget to cast a nervous glance over your shoulder. Take notes. Tell the government everything. Root out the evil within. Question your own motives. Telephone the terrorist hotline if you suspect yourself of possessing the slightest nihilistic impulse. Oh - and do try to go about your daily life as normal.

Lenins's Tomb
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