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August 28, 2005

Janet Daley on De Menezes.

Janet Daley looks at those protesting about the shooting of De Menezes and dosn’t like what she sees.

Then came the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. A tragedy by any standards, his death was a direct consequence of the febrile atmosphere that followed the second terrorist plot that held, as a consequence of its failure, the prospect that four determined killers were still active in the city.

Now it is that death that consumes columns of print and hours of broadcasting debate to the extent that, as some of the July 7 victims’ relatives have noted, the attention of the country has almost completely shifted away from the premeditated murder that struck their families. So why is that? How is it that one wrongful death committed mistakenly by our security forces can obliterate coverage of the greater number of deaths committed intentionally by people openly dedicated to destroying our society? I got the first hint of what was to happen with the de Menezes shooting when amid the flowers on the street memorial to him, there appeared a printed notice likening his death to that of “all the innocent Iraqis who had been killed by the US and Britain”. Ah, I thought, here we go.

The tireless anti-war, anti-American, anti-government operation is moving in. Sure enough, within days we had the entire panoply of a classic operation by the sort of left-wing activists among whom I spent my youth.

The police had not just made a horrific error: they were cast as “executioners” on behalf of a government that was “racist” and determined to persecute anybody who looked vaguely foreign. And further, the confusion and obvious panic that led to misleading official statements after the shooting were part of a sinister cover-up: a conscious plan to deceive the country rather than a shambolic attempt to come to terms with an appalling misjudgment.

I take the point that the shooting is indeed being used by some unsavoury types. I’ve also been quite vocal on the subject myself. Does the fact that (other, for there are those who would consider myself to be unsavoury) those unsavoury types are latching on to the incident mean that I retract my own views? No, it doesn’t.

I still think that the killing by the State of an innocent is worse in many ways than the killing of 52 by religious nutters. The latter we’ve always had with us and always will. The former we have been generally  free of in the UK, other countries not having been so fortunate. And one of the lessons I take from the 20th century is that it is the former that is the biggest danger in the long term.

That the SWP is using the same story to promote their delusions doesn’t change the validity, to me at least, of my own. Yes, I know there are those who disagree but I am still firmly of the opinion (or as some would say, delusion) that a society in which the powers that be claim the power to kill some innocents in order to protect the rest is the beginning of a very slippery slope.

That’s why I want the full investigation (that we do seem to be getting), the full information released, and those who made the decision, the wrong one, to be punished. For if the State takes to itself the power to decide who may live and who may die the least I think we can expect of it is that it is responsible for those decisions.

Update. Gandalf informs the world that I think this way because I am class obsessed. Mhhm Hhhm. Stunning analysis there.

August 28, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 30, 2005 9:52:02 PM


It is still possible for both 'savoury' and 'unsavoury' types to agree occasionally isn't it?

I didn't think people's views on extra judicial killing were defined by whether they sit on the left, in the middle or on the right of British politics.

But I'm forgetting the mantra...
"You're either with us or against us!"
How long till government re-launch the slogan "your country right or wrong"?

Posted by: Blairwatch | Aug 28, 2005 4:10:55 PM

"It is still possible for both 'savoury' and 'unsavoury' types to agree occasionally isn't it?"

Oh yes, I'm sure. In this case I'll be the gentleman, and let Tim be the 'savoury' guy. In any event I would like to endorse fully Tim's sentiments here.

I had a post with a very extensive set of comments on Fistful of Euros, one person was even suggesting that they would rather 'take their chances with the terrorists'.

I think this whole situation is terribly terribly sad, and any parent must get that churning feeling in the pit of the stomach on seeing the 'rag doll' like figure of Jean Charles de Menezes lying on the carriage floor. These are the kind of photos I personally would normally prefer the press didn't publish - I think they are an assault on the intimacy of the person, what can be more intimate than the moment of death - but on this occassion, and given the fact that someone, somewhere was allowing 'dis-information' to circulate unchecked, I think there was no alternative.

The fact that many have chosen this issue to have a go at Ian Blair and the UK govt - from whichever end of the political spectrum - as a kind of police complaints issue shows just how little the reality of modern day terrorism has sunk in in some quarters. These are big issues, in capitals.

I think the following would be the main points that I would draw attention too:

1/. The 'disinformation' and the preoccupying silence.

2/. The apparent attempts to undermine Ian Blair within the police force itself.

3/. The uncomfortable balancing act which constitutes 'due process' these days with wide ranging anti-terrorism laws and powers OTOH, and 'guarantee institutions' like the coroners court on the other.We need a police force with the powers to be effective, but only the necessary powers to be effective, here is the problem. We are operating 'normal' law in abnornal times.One of the terrorists aims must surely be to stretch this to the limit. I think it is pretty important that the main anti terrorism thrust is left in the hands of the police (and not, say, devolved onto the military) but if this is to remain the case the police will need the necessary legal space. That is why the outcome of this investigation is going to be so important.

I think making petty party political type points here not only is a lack of respect for Jean Chsrles de Menezes, but also for the others who died on July 7. You can't separate one from the other.

Posted by: Edward Hugh | Aug 29, 2005 7:49:14 AM

I guess Daley sees herself in the David Horowitz mould.

I have no doubt there's absolutely no equivalence between state killings and those of nutters, turrists, insurgents, street criminals, hoodies, paedophiles, crazed survivalists or .

And today, just after discovering the de Menezes was a leisurely affair (11 shots in 33 seconds), we see the Met response in today's Standard - Ian Blair demanding 'protection' for police in future shoot-to-killings. And that the IPCC report won't be out this year.

Also, it's still not clear whether all the shots came from police or soldiers.

Posted by: Chromatius | Aug 31, 2005 2:18:56 PM