Archive for August 26th, 2009

The People’s Outrage

Sometimes stupid matters just clutter up your thought, preventing you from turning your mind to saner stuff. In my case it’s this Al-Megrahi release. So I am going to write about it for purely therapeutic reasons, or in colloquial language, to get it off my chest.

First, Al-Megrahi probably didn’t do it, so he should probably be released anyway. Second, even if he did do it, whatever that ‘it’ was, he would not have been acting in a personal capacity but on instructions of the state of Libya. Therefore the people who bear most responsibility for blowing up the plane are those people who told him to do it. In this case, that would be the blood-stained terrorist criminal below. On the right.


At the time of the Muhammad cartoons debacle, As’ad Abukhalil observed that many of the demonstrations in the Arab and Muslim world had been instigated by Arab and Muslim governments for their own interests, among which I would imagine the project of conjuring the image of a set of destructive Western bogeymen out to destroy the people’s way of life, while simultaneously consolidating their own power and distracting from their own failings. Nothing like that could ever happen in the enlightened advanced democratic West, of course.

People in the west are encouraged to think of their own inflamed passions as an autonomous production, but a significant number of people, egged on by self-serving politicians, are easily led into cheap moralising and chest-puffing nationalism, sufficient enough to lend the impression on airwaves and in print that this truly is The People’s Outrage.

At the same time, there’s never a shortage of opportunists who make themselves available to speak on behalf of victims and to accord them a special authority and role in deciding how justice should be done. In this case, the apparent concern for the suffering of others is sustained by an equal concern that the punishment inflicted on dying men should contain some degree of excess. But these and more profound considerations are happily dispelled by the arrival of a steady supply of half-wits who only want to talk about boycotting whiskey, twitter hashtags and other sacrifices.

It barely needs to be said that official declarations of the US on this matter are to be treated with the utmost contempt. Even if hypocrisy is a fact of life in the functioning of states, the idea that the US, having blown up a passenger plane resulting in the deaths of 290 and subsequently refused to either accept responsibility or apologise, and having allowed a man convicted of blowing up an airliner killing 73 to ‘swan from table to table in the candlelit banquet hall, bestowing kisses and collecting accolades‘, is in a position to talk down to Scotland on the morality of its legal process, is so darkly risible that one can barely come to terms with it.

But there it is.

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August 2009
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