July 12, 2005

On London

A friend alerted me to this little piece in The Nation's blog section, in John Nichol's blog.
This speech is pretty amazing, and I'll post the full text in the comments section.

"For instance, U.S. media pretty much missed the one truly Churchillian response to the attacks -- that of London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a committed socialist and anti-war activist, who issued the following statement on the day of the attacks:

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever....

(cont in comments)


4 comments:

  1. For instance, U.S. media pretty much missed the one truly Churchillian response to the attacks -- that of London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a committed socialist and anti-war activist, who issued the following statement on the day of the attacks:

    I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

    I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

    That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith -- it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony.

    Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

    Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

    I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others -- that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

    In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfill their dreams and achieve their potential.

    They choose to come to London, as so many have come before, because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.

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  2. I like his words and tone, a strong statement on the courage of the British and Londoners. But he doesn't state, at least in what you've quoted, Niral, what response he believes appropriate. Perhaps Churchill would have at least offered his "blood, toil, tears and sweat" in the fight.

    However, some of your media faves, James Taranto and Brit Hume have noted Mr. Livingstone's comments: This from Taranto's OpinionJournal yesterday:

    "Ken Livingstone, the far-left mayor of London, has been widely quoted since Thursday's bombings, and deservedly so, since he's taken a hard line against terrorism that's often sadly lacking on the left. But one quote, which we've seen only on Fox News Channel's "Special Report With Brit Hume," especially caught our attention:

    'A fair world in which the individual makes their own life choices and their own moral value judgments, that's what they seek to snuff out. But they will fail.'

    Apparently Livingstone didn't get the memo about how they don't hate us for our freedoms."

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  3. I think the entire left-is-soft stereotype comes from the aformentioned douchebags reporting sound bites that, the other 99% of the time, reinforce the stereotype. Of course everyone favors a strong and effective and immediate response, if possible, to quash terrorism, and nobody seeks to placate or coddle them. Being soft on terrorism is dumber than, and less common than, being soft on crime. Its effective if completely irresponsible campaigning by the right, where any strong and harsh response is automatically the correct path, and anything else is weak.
    Unfortunately, people on your side of the spectrum are incapable of understanding the merits of seeing things in shades of grey.
    Do the terrorists hate us for our freedom and liberty? Not in the trite and essentially meaningless way President Bush spouts them out (the words have become placeholders in his sentences for lack of anything substantial to say). However, do they loathe the idea of a secular society? I'm pretty sure.
    The thing that gets us on the left all up in arms is when someone naively asks why the terrorists hate America, and the answer comes back "because we're like, so cool, and sweet, cuz like, we've got freedom and junk." There's more to it than that. Our foreign policy, even pre-Iraq, whether or not you approve of actions we've taken and the aims of those actions, has essentially made us a lightning rod for angst and blame around the world. I also think that, maybe to some extent, all these supposed reasons for their rage is a lot of posturing to justify whats basically an outraged and irrational loathing of everything that doesn't perfectly adhere to their fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran.

    Livingstone is a mayor, not a national security expert. He did lay out a response, at least over the arena of daily life that he can kind of hold some sway over. He said, fuck it, terrorism is not going to work, so while they keep blowing themselves up for their futile cause, we'll keep living our lives, and hin the meantime England has intelligence to do what can be done about the rest of it.

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  4. Niral, be honest. The only reason you posted these comments from Livingstone, much less call them Churchillian, is that he’s a leftist like you. He didn’t say anything that Blair, or Bush for that matter, didn’t and hasn’t said, other than his focus, as you highlighted, is on London. And apparently you agree with these very black and white words of Livingstone about terrorists and murderers and indiscriminate slaughter victimizing ordinary working class Londoners. In my terms, it is barbarism versus civilization. We all, left and right, see things very clearly in the face of such horror. No greys to it. That very clear picture of a ruthless and barbaric enemy is what united this country for a while after 9/11.

    Then, we were back to politics as usual.

    Among the politics of the left is your usual elitist blather about Bush’s intelligence, and his trite, meaningless ‘placeholder’ statements. Cute. Then, in words you think are a little prettier, you say the very same thing. You are 'pretty sure'terrorists are blowing up innocent people because they ‘loathe our secular society’ rather than they loathe our ‘freedom and liberty'. See, it’s not even what Bush says that you disagree with, it’s just that it’s Bush, not Livingstone or Kerry or Kennedy, who says it. In my opinion, that’s about as shallow as politics gets.

    Then you do venture into a real differentiation of the right and the left. You start looking for the subtle, nuanced, gray view of the world that must logically explain why bloodthirsty heathens of a barbaric ideology hate us. It must be our foreign policy. If only we would let them slaughter the Jews and take back Israel, then everything would be fine. If only we hadn’t defended Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, placing infidels on the sacred peninsula, everything would be fine. If only we hadn’t supported and armed such groups as bin Laden and others in Afghanistan, then maybe the Soviets would run that country and maybe still be a superpower to offset our evil unilateral power. Are these the shades of grey to which you attribute merit?

    If these unclean ventures in foreign policy make us a lightning rod, so be it. But the truth is, with respect to the Arab world in general, we’re largely hated because they hate the Jews, and we’ve been the one true ally Israel has had. Are you suggesting we should have sacrificed what’s left of Europe’s Jewry? Regarding the Osama bin Ladens of the world, they hate us because we are infidels, and they don’t care if we’re American, Brits, Spaniards, Thais, Aussies, or Muslims. America did not create radical Islam. Get over it, it just ain’t our fault.

    It’s black and white, and that’s why George Bush is president today, and a Republican likely will be president in 2008 unless Bush let’s this country down and starts getting nuanced. Not fuckin’ likely.

    But wait, I’ve spoken too soon. You said “I also think that, maybe to some extent, all these supposed reasons for their rage is a lot of posturing to justify whats basically an outraged and irrational loathing of everything that doesn't perfectly adhere to their fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran.” Niral, come on! Stick to the party line fella, you’re waffling again. You can’t blame our lightening rod foreign policy and then admit, in so many very pretty words, that these guys are nutcase animals!! That’s downright Hillaryesque of you. You’ve nuanced your way on to both sides. Like Mr. Kerry, you’re just confused.

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