The New Crusaders

These are terrible times. Even more frightening than the Iraqi crisis, which is just symptomatic of the mess, is the thuggery which uses ideas of fear and terror to instigate a campaign of real fear and terror. The new moral crusade being launched by forces unseen, smashing their way into people’s homes to snatch the hard disks off their computers in order to inspect what images have been downloaded from the Internet is very, very scary. It gets into the notion of illegal acts of the mind – of forbidden thoughts and ideas. The thin edge of the wedge is used to open Pandora’s Box which Pandora had so tightly sealed.

Then there’s the Ricin story. Ricin it seems is a deadly poison derived from the Castor bean (the same bean used to make Castor Oil). It is easy to manufacture (if you’re careful, I suppose) and it has been used, I understand, in some famous international assassination cases where a drop of this stuff is dabbed onto the sharp end of an umbrella and then poked into someone’s behind causing an immediate and gruesome James Bondian kind of death. It is not a weapon of ‘mass destruction’, like AIDs for instance, but it makes good press and when a group of refugee Algerians were discovered to be brewing it in their grotty rooms somewhere in North London the newspapers went wild. Further raids were launched on the basis of information extracted and then the worst happened – in Manchester a policeman was killed trying to seize an ‘illegal’ Algerian immigrant who panicked, broke free from his constraint, and started slashing out at his tormentors with a kitchen knife he had grabbed off the table. Now every Algerian refugee is suspected of being in Sadam’s employ or, if they’re wearing a moustache, of actually being Sadam himself (I think they’ve all forgotten about what’s-his-name from al-Queda – there’s only room in people’s heads for one demonic villain at a time).

Soon the jails here will be overflowing with immigrants who have illegally stored their bodies on the sacred soil of Britain and Englishmen who have illegal numbers stored on their sacred IBM computers. Another Great Fear has descended upon us from the skies like a plague and as the Old Mole of Marxian days we might all have to go underground to wait it out – either that or start playing our Rolling Stone ‘Street Fighting Man’ records again (except good old Mick is Sir Jagger now).

17 January 03