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After the bombings in London:
Bush and Blair give a green light to racism

July 22, 2005 | Page 6

ALAN MAASS reports on the aftermath of the July 7 bombings in London.

GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair are trying to use the tragic July 7 suicide bombings in London to turn back the growing tide of criticism of their invasion and occupation of Iraq. And their chief weapon is to demonize Muslims.

Blair said the bombings were an attack on "our values, our way of life." Commenting in Scotland where he was meeting with the other leaders of the G8 club of rich nations, Bush dared to say: "The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill--those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks," he said.

Ask the victims of the U.S. blitzkrieg on Falluja about who has evil in their hearts. Ask the survivors of the U.S. cluster bombs that fell like rain on the Hilla region south of Baghdad about who takes innocent lives. Ask Muslims around the world outraged by the photos of abuse and humiliation suffered by the prisoners at Abu Ghraib about whose values and way of life are under attack.

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THE POLITICAL establishment's contemptuous treatment of Islam and Muslims had an immediate impact in Britain.

One man, Kamal Raza Butt, a Pakistani man visiting Britain, was beaten to death in the city of Nottingham by a gang of youths shouting racist slurs, according to news reports. At least four mosques were damaged by fires set by arsonists, and a half-dozen others suffered vandalism serious enough to be reported to police. Middle East Online reported numerous accounts of vandalism of homes and businesses, and routine verbal abuse faced by Muslims.

Blair piously spoke out against scapegoating after the bombings, and numerous law enforcement officials made public appearances to warn against a "backlash." But their words are empty.

Everything about the government's response to the bombing--the rush to judgment that al-Qaeda was involved, Blair's statement that the bombings were "an attack on civilized people"--set up the climate in which scapegoating could thrive. As Robert Fisk of Britain's Independent newspaper wrote, "To go on pretending that Britain's enemies want to destroy 'what we hold dear' encourages racism."

In a larger sense, every bomb that falls on innocent Iraqis and every U.S. raid in the neighborhoods of Baghdad that humiliates and abuses men, women and children--that is, every sign that the "leaders of the free world" place little value on the lives of Iraqis--encourages the same racist attitudes throughout society.

The mainstream media have aided and abetted this climate of hatred at every turn, and not only Fox News, where correspondent Simon Marks declared that the "terrorists" are "prepared to spill Arab blood in addition to the blood of regular--of non-Arab people living in London."

The U.S.-led war on Iraq has inflicted far more violence on the Iraqi people--and continues to do so, week in and week out--than London suffered in the July 7 attacks. But what newspaper or magazine or cable news channel has devoted the kind of round-the-clock coverage they gave to the London bombings to the latest atrocity in the ongoing carnage in Iraq?

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BRITISH AUTHORITIES now say they have evidence linking the bombings to four suicide bombers who traveled from the city of Leeds to carry out the attacks.

This is a far cry from the al-Qaeda-directed plot that the politicians and media immediately speculated on after the explosions. In fact, more than a week after the bombings, there was still no hard evidence that the four youths collaborated with any extremist group.

Whoever is responsible for the bombings, there is no political justification for such tactics. The explosions were aimed at ordinary people traveling to work and school in one of the most multiracial cities in Europe--people who don't in any way bear responsibility for the policies of the government that rules over them.

The attack took place only two years after an estimated 2 million people took to the streets of London to protest the impending Iraq war--in the biggest demonstration in Britain's history. The odds are that some of these antiwar protesters were among the dead. Plus, one of the bombings took place in a largely Arab immigrant neighborhood--and Muslims were among the dead.

Blair and Bush spent little time grieving. Rather, they were scheming about how to parlay the public shock and anger at the bombings into a rehabilitation of the "war on terror." This was, as we now know, exactly how the Bush administration responded to September 11--with then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice urging fellow administration officials to think about "how do you capitalize on these opportunities" to promote U.S. interests, according to New Yorker magazine writer Nicholas Lehman.

The U.S. media immediately turned to its battalion of talking-head analysts to answer the question: "Could it happen here?"--producing all sorts of proposals for new security measures.

But greater police powers will do nothing whatsoever to stop further terrorist attacks from taking place. Indeed, as its victims know in Palestine or Indonesia or South Africa or Northern Ireland, further repression will only feed bitterness and hatred--and lead some to seek to strike back in any way they think they can, even if that means blowing themselves up and taking other innocent lives with them.

Even the U.S. government's own Defense Science Board, in a 2004 report, admitted, "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies."

Logically then, the real solution isn't more repression, but to change the policies that cause hatred for the U.S. government and its British lapdog. At the top of the list should be an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. and "coalition" forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As an Iraqi woman, Iman al-Saadun, wrote in an article titled "A Letter to the British People," "For a period of hours, you have lived through moments of desperate anxiety and horror. In those hours, you lost a member of your family or a friend, and we wish to tell you in total honesty that we too grieve when human lives pass away. I cannot tell you how much we hurt when we see desperation and pain on the face of another person. For we have lived through this situation--and continue to live through it every day--since your country and the United States formed an alliance and laid plans to attack Iraq..."

"Why does the world watch as our people are killed and tortured and not condemn the crimes being committed against us? Are you human beings, and we something less? Do you think that only you can feel pain and we can't?"

Racist reaction at Fox

"[T]HESE PEOPLE are, if necessary, prepared to spill Arab blood in addition to the blood of regular--of non-Arab people living in London."
-- Fox News correspondent Simon Marks, on the bombings in London

"MY FIRST thought when I heard, just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"
-- Fox News correspondent Brit Hume

"I THINK that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened."
-- Fox News hostBrian Kilmeade, on the proximity of the bombings to the G8 summit in Scotland

"BY THE way, just wanted to tell you people, we missed--the International Olympic Committee missed a golden opportunity today. If they had picked France, if they had picked France instead of London to hold the Olympics, it would have been the one time we could look forward to where we didn't worry about terrorism. They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?"
-- Fox News host John Gibson, a day before the London bombings

"THIS IS why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics--let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while."
-- Gibson, following the London bombings

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