Well, by the time you read this we’ll know whether the first
anniversary of 7/7 has been marked by the terrorists as well as by the
British public. It would be wrong to say that the place is jumpy, but
nor is it completely relaxed and comfortable, especially on the Tube,
especially in the central city sections.
Since most sections of the Tube go out of action at least once a day,
for some part of the day, there is plenty of opportunity to get
jittery. Much of the chaos on 7/7 last year resulted from the fact that
the whole Tube service is falling apart – its radio communications
system is so old that replacement parts are sourced from science
museums – and totally unforeseeable events (such as it getting hot in
July and August) bring the system shuddering to a halt.
Yet people remain calm. The same cannot be said for the government,
which is talking up the possibility of another attack, and warning of
1,800 (or 1,500 or 1,200) dangerous characters within the community (so
of course there is a renewed push for an extension of the period of
detention without trial). Mr Blair has sternly suggested that the Muslim
community is not doing enough to confront extremists among them.
This is bollocks of course – especially as an explanation for 7/7. As
Brendan O’Neill has noted in innumerable articles on Spiked Online, the
four bombers were not particularly connected to any Muslim grouping or
mosque community within the UK. They bonded at the gym, and they got
their deformed idea about what needed to be done from cable news
coverage of Al-Qaeda and Iraq.
The gym is the clue – 7/7 style terror is about achieving identity and
meaning in an atomised society. Friends who campaign for the Respect
party in the East End grit their teeth at the number of young Muslims
– a minority, but not a vanishingly small one – who have a kind word
for the bombers. But it’s all talk – the equivalent of 70s
Baader-Meinhof chic, or playing “Anarchy In the UK” at full volume.
Blair’s tut-tutting at the Muslim community is a-se-covering of course.
This sort of terror – maybe one or two kids with no record and a
few recipes off the online Anarchist’s Cookbook – is substantially
unpoliceable which makes it, well, terrifying.
And now I have to get on the train. Posters advise travellers to take
plenty of water and not board if old or ill – this must be the only
transport system in the world that publishes tips on how to survive
using it. Who needs Semtex? Al-Qaeda could win by stuffing toilet paper
in the air vents.