Them and Us

What climate of fear must pervade certain Asian communities at the moment. It reminds me of the time when the IRA was at its height and speaking with an Irish accent made you automatically suspect. But the Irish could pass for proper English if they took on their way of speaking and manner of dress. Being Asian, of course, precludes that. In fact, now, after several highly publicised police raids, everyone young and Asian (or who is dark skinned and foreign) has been marked. For no one is innocent. If there is the slightest suspicion – coming from anywhere – then anything can happen. It means, of course, that there will be a tightening of the circles. People who feel themselves threatened from the outside will only trust those who look like them and talk like them and eat like them. Them and Us. It’s happened before and it’s happening again. And what makes it all so terribly sinister is that even those who’ve defended civil liberties in the past are ready and willing to throw it all up for safety’s sake. Which is one of the main problems of the ‘nanny state’. When you come to expect that the state will protect you from whatever nuisance – you expect even more the state to protect you against ‘terrorism’. And that word – ‘terrorism’ – has come to mean ‘monstrous evil’ that has many faces. When a face is given to it, suddenly this ‘monstrous evil’ can be objectified. It could be Jews, it could be Irish, it could be Cathars. Once objectified, the state then unleashes the forces of repression. A great net is cast into the sea of discontent and whatever is trawled becomes evidence that they – the police - are actually doing their job. And mistakes will be made. If you want protection, mistakes will be made. But, they say, ‘In doing so we will protect you from the monstrous evil.’ And any time it shows its ugly head that becomes evidence it still exists and so more draconian measures are justified to squelch it. Till we all live in a state of perpetual fear and perfect order – with no graffiti and no sputum on the pavement and an abject population that will do what it’s told when it’s told to do it. How much different is this from what we, in our youth, called ‘fascism’?

10 June 2006