This is the future

Police gunned down innocent man“, states the Sydney Morning Herald. One day the Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was a potential terrorist and the next an innocent in the wrong place at the wrong time (Stockwell station in London, to be precise, a few minutes walk from my former home.)

The London police are looking for a number of men allegedly behind last week’s attempted attacks. It’s an essential job and hopefully successful. This doesn’t alter the facts that an innocent man has been murdered. Phil Gomes explains what is at stake:

“Jean Charles de Menezes was undoubtedly a man of colour, so he now automatically comes under suspicion because of circumstance and the tenor of the times, and of course Jean Charles de Menezes will just be considered collateral damage as far as those who wish to tighten a noose around our civil liberties. They’ll say ‘but if he had nothing to fear he would still be alive’, but Jean Charles de Menezes as a man of the global south probably knew better than any of us that police with unlimited powers are something to be feared.”

We are seeing the birth of extra-judicial killings in the heart of Western cities. No longer hidden or kept secret by shadowy government officials, but committed under the mantra of “blame the terrorists.” London mayor Ken Livingstone misses the point entirely: “The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public. “This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility.”

Tom Engelhardt reports on the logical extension of this new ideology, the kidnapping of “terrorism” suspects in various countries around the world by American authorities and then spirited away to dictatorships for torture. There have allegedly been over 100 of such missions since 9/11, but it’s a figure impossible to clarify.

Make no mistake. John Howard would have little or no problem with introducing draconian measures to crack down on “terrorism.” His suggestion this week that the London bombings had nothing to do with the Iraq war show how out of teach with reality he really is.

Let’s not forget that this is a man who recently feted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (“I salute somebody in President Musharraf who has led a transition of his country to a democratic state”, said Howard dishonestly.) And now we learn that Pakistan “has continued to let [extremist] groups run military-style camps to train guerilla fighters.” Turning a blind eye to such dangers is a familiar Western tactic. One of the main sources of Islamic extremism is Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and yet both governments are working closely with the Americans and British. What part of “blowback” do they not understand?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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