I have just spent an uncomfortable 20 minutes this morning.
Nothing to do with last night’s whisky, watching drizzle dripping down the window or remembering injudicious comments at an after party. Rather, it was because I found myself agreeing with Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail who writes today, in the context of ‘Paris’, “calm down and think”. This is probably a first for me as I usually regard the Mail and its outpourings as the moral equivalent of a sewage outfall pipe onto a pristine Cornish beach. So, yes, calm down, think.
What is the real risk to your health and well being? It certainly is not bombs and bullets – you have to go to Syria for that. You are far more at risk from the cigarette you are smoking, from the trans fatty acids and high fructose corn syrup in your foods, from over indulgence in alcohol, from the cans of coke you drink, from the way you and others drive cars, from work related stress, from nuclear accidents, antibiotic resistance, climate change, increasing precarity in employment, ocean acidification, deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil erosion……yet we are treated this morning to 20 minutes of ‘discussion’ on the BBC of ‘threat’ ‘security’ ‘borders’ ‘migrants’ ‘muslims’. No analysis of why or any perspective on the killings. Instead the narrative was ” Islamic terrorists/migrants are free to enter Europe and kill, and thus what we need is more surveillance”. It feeds the knee knerk patriotism and small mindedness of right wing neofascists who will use Paris to argue for kicking migrants out, labelling all muslims as potential terror threats, increased security measures such as compulsory ID cards and paper checks as we walk the streets, backed up by the fallacious “if you’ve got nothing to hide” twattery.
The risks we face arise from the conditions of modern technological societies, the rule of plutocrats and oligarchs, post imperial hubris and a blindess to ecological degradation. ISIS members who shoot and bomb are criminals who murder and maim as part of their myopic death cult world view. Civil society (if it does not lose its head), the security forces, the military, police and intelligence services can deal with this if politicians stop and think, and if the media stop seeing these stories as a money spinner. The latter point is misguided because that is their ‘raison d’etre’ – why else show double page spreads of paris city centre with little stars showing where the events took place.
Meanwhile, Syria burns.