all seeing pie in the sky

Point of information – I’m not a subscriber to most conspiracy theories. By this I mean, whilst cynical and suspicious, I maintain a “credibility radar” which helps filter if not entirely dismiss  the most excessive of the tin pot brigade, and in any case, drawing attention to some of the Internet’s more fringe elements (like supporters of the BNP or people who speak Esperanto) can never end well. For the avoidance of doubt, whilst believing that the death of Dr. David Kelly was somewhat convenient narrative-wise, my advancing years has diluted my initial youthful belief that an order to kill him came from somewhere around the corridors of power you hear so much about. There is suspicion and doubt, yes, though not perhaps conspiracy.

On a different perspective, the ‘truth movement’ set up around the 7/7 bombings is, almost to a man, complete rubbish, and in most cases essentially thinly veiled attempts to give racist ranting a fresh new angle. Even if you do find a 7/7 “truther” who doesn’t come across as a lonely old racist commenting on how expendable British Muslims are, you’re usually asked to subscribe to the fact that four out of work actors were paid to hang around Luton train station for a bit, before turning around to drive home whilst pre-laid bombs on tube trains and buses were detonated by…I never get up to that point. G4S, maybe. Though of course, maybe not G4S. They’re incompetent but this isn’t the right time in my life for a legal case to be brought against me. In any  case, you see my point. I happen to believe that it’s somewhat far fetched to subscribe to any theory which hangs on the central premise of Transport For London also dabbling in a bit of rep theatre.

Anyway, on with the main meat of the post. If there’s one tiny part of the Internet where my heart has most definitely been stolen, it’s the 0.05% of YouTube dedicated to Illuminati conspiracy theories. Maybe this says a lot about the kind of women to whom I’m attracted because I’ve not felt to alive in years.

Take the Private Eye cover on this page, published at the height of the London riots. For most people of sound mind reading the speech-bubble punchline, the satire is fairly clear. It’s London, the Olympics are coming, so why not join the two together with a bit of British musn’t grumble attitude (for which, see yesterday’s blog on whether we can/should just enjoy the Olympics). For the Illuminati truth seeker, however, the satire is completely lost, which is why there’s a number of videos in the cover is shown as evidence of a plot (presumably by well known state mole Ian Hislop) to cause/create/sponsor a terrorist attack during the Opening Ceremony. What satire might have been evident in the joke dissolves like so much kettle steam, and with as much mass in the resulting evidence.

Mandeville is another common ‘evidence’ given to prove that the secret lizard people/Freemason cult/whoever-it-is who rules the nation has infiltrated LOGOC. One video uploaded to YouTube which provides this evidence points to the obvious (the single eye being an obvious New World Order trope, the launch of the mascots being paraded on a check pattern floor, that sort of thing.) What makes my heart flutter is a caption written in Papyrus which informs the enthralled reader that “Mandeville” is French for “dead city”, another clue that London is the target for an Illuminati/terrorist attack combo meal.

I don’t speak French (though I do know what happens with iron fililings near a magnet, so that’s the Comprehensive system for you). A quick thumb through a dictionary/Google shows that  “mande” is not the French for “dead”, and even if it were, there’s no joined up dots to show why we suddenly need to be bilingual when pointing out ‘false flag’ terrorist plots on the Internet.

Not satisfied with misunderstanding satire or mistranslating basic conversational French (well, maybe “dead” has to come up in conversation in France, I don’t know, never been. “Are these snails dead, waiter?” perhaps, it’s not important right now), the determined crew at the HMS Cuckoo-Bananas sent me straight to the garage forecourt for roses and cards by way of a video with over 250,000 hits purporting to prove that the London Games have been a state-sponsored terrorist attack in the making for over 100 years.

A radio phone in guest drew the lines in front of me as clearly as though he were sketching a loveheart with our initials in them. The London 2012 logo, he explained, can be rearranged to spell the word “ZION”. Well, I did check this claim, and as you can see, if you squint a bit and use more imagination than you’ve ever used before, the theory is absolutely correct.

Well, he continued, the poem “Jerusalem” written by William Blake mentions “a new Jerusalem” being built in England, and that was back in the early 19th century. As it’s undisputed that our Illuminati/Jewish lizards/whoever-the-Heck rulers have put subtle design quirks in everything from Olympic coins to road signs to prove their worth in a Pinky and the Brain sort of way, clearly Blake was the start of terrorism’s longest, widest story arc? Of course he was. It’s conjecture, but that’s the kind of fact we like round here!

When I say “I’ve fallen in love” with this sort of thing, I genuinely mean it. Clearly, it holds up as much weight as the pastry around a butter pie, and by most peoples measurement, it’s no more credible than those people who claim to been warned off going into Central London/Manchester/Madrid/Bali by a friendly Imam who just happened to be passing by. It’s the worst kind of urban myth gone feral, picked up and perpetuated by the kind of Internet-based obsessive who would have a use sticking torches into filing cabinets were it easier to do so. As I said, my suspicion and cynical side knows no bounds, and as such I’d rather believe that something dodgy is going on rather than ever sign up to the notion that our elected elders know best. I certainly don’t believe that our unelected elders of bankers and World Bank chiefs know best, though by the same measure, I’m not about to agree with the YouTube nutjob consensus that Julia Gillard, the Pope and possibly Prince Harry are all shape-shifting lizards.

Yes, there’s a thrill about the most extreme kind of conspiracy theory, something subversive even. I prefer to look at the funny side too. “Love” is the emotion which carries with it the freedom from remorse, boredom or frustration in a life not necessarily led to the full, which I guess is why the light and blessed relief which comes from watching this tripe has lifted me so highly. Don’t ever stop being suspicious about the people who claim to rule over us – though if you start telling me that the chess-board floor design which happens to be in two of my favourite pubs mean that my pints of Oxford Gold are tainted by New World Order mind serum, I may have to punch you in the nose.  

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EDL – home grown terrorists

Despite and in the face of the ban on marches, the English Defence League took its circus tour of provincial high streets to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Symbolism abounded – the East End has dealt with this sort of thing before.

The EDL have always had a lot of explaining to do – what they believe, and why, and how they would progress from slogans to action. Their ‘manifesto’, such as they have one, drips with hatred, fear, prejudice and ignorance, handicapped by paranoia. At the start of this year, the group was viewed as the knuckle-dragging wing of the British National Party, to be viewed with distrust and disquiet, protested against, though not given much more attention. National Front, British National Party, English Defence League – eventually, history tells us, all the far-right groups fail. The explanations which are presented crack and fissure under the weight of mis-explanations, omitted details and spin.

And then July 2011 happened.

Anders Behring Breivik, an extremist Christian who had deep-seated distrust against Muslims specifically, immigration policy generally, left-wing policies in the round, massacred members of the political party he blamed for changing his country in ways he would not accept. His name is etched into history – the three words “Anders Behring Breivik” as a symbol of Norway’s darkest days in modern times.

We know the Breivik admired and supported far-right and racist groups across Europe and possibly further overseas. Links between Breivik and our own EDL are sketchy though those which exist utterly condemn the group and destroy their arguments about being “peaceful”. Breivik himself wrote about meeting EDL members; he spoke on their messageboards, he met members in person. His much quoted statement, taken from his manifesto reads:

“I used to have more than 600 EDL members as Facebook friends and have spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders. In fact; I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.”

One infamous photograph of Breivik, amongst the thoroughly unsettling profile images that resemble perverse spoofs of L’Oreal adverts, shows him posing with a weapon ready for action. “This is how I will be remembered,” the photograph says. “This is my legacy.”

Such photographs are not exactly uncommon on-line. There are probably hundreds of thousands of images showing teenagers flexing their muscles in front of bathroom mirrors, women pouting in nightclubs, and housewives throttling their kittens.

The “posing with guns” imagery is common too, and can be traced to plenty of ”wannabe” headline providers from across the social and geographical classes. In the UK, the imagery always appears tinged with parody, mockery, as the consequence of our national attitude towards carrying guns makes showing off with them appear ludicrous, unreal. Running counter to this is the imagery from Northern Ireland, where for generations the violence and counter-violence developed into a cottage industry for photographers. Imagery from The Troubles appeared on television and newspapers with all the expected elements – balaclavas, pistols, flags, shotguns, military uniforms, portraits of the fallen and avenged. Attached together, these images and photographs developed into a lurid backdrop for the history of Britain – the running commentary by the armies formed by consequence and necessity.

Whatever your opinion on the specifics of Northern Ireland and its history, the images that conflict produced has provided blueprints for future generations who have the misguided assumption that they, too, can nominate themselves as guardians of their own self-confirmed truth. The EDL and its offshoots are misinformed if they believe they can form their own ‘army’, their own twisted form of ‘loyalism’ to a cause they were not invited to join. The images I remember from my youth, channel flicking through the news headlines, hearing my Dad complain about the “never ending” “problems” in Ireland (as he politely put it), these are the images which have convinced the far-right of 2011 that they represent a long-held British tradition of armed resistance and responsible vigilantism.

Simply put, supporters of the EDL are potential terrorist threats. Like Breivik, they believe only in armed resistance against an enemy – a target they have incorrectly identified and wrongly convicted, but an enemy to them all the same. Their nationalism is as extreme as that of Breivik – the use of Nordic and Gothic typography, their obsession with nationalist images, their subservience to a flag. And their hatred of political parties which they blame for the situation which exists only in their mind – “force feeding Halal meat”, as one EDL member told me in a messageboard; “forcing Islamic laws in Parliament” as another assured me was happening on the comments section to a newsstory. Obsessed, violent, angry, isolated, paranoid – the characteristics we are told must be looked out for, the “if you see anything suspicious” warnings on railway stations.

If we are to accept freedom of expression, as any democracy must, then we must remember that the rule of law exists to keep that freedom sacred and valued. We are told by the mainstream media, with suspicion and cynicism, that we must be aware of the ‘danger’ in immigration, the Muslim family down the road, the Mosque planning application, the use of Urdu in schools.

We should remember not to be ‘race blind’ to the terrorist characteristics of the self-appointed army of tracksuited, shaven haired nationalists, whose iconography, language and behaviour would ordinarily instigate tabloid campaigns and government action. The distinction with the BNP (which should not be banned, not least because they appear to be falling apart all by themselves) should be obvious.

We were told to be vigilant against possible acts of terror on British soil by Irish dissidents for generations. Our media asks us to treat Muslims as outsiders who could be priming bombs and suicide vests as we speak. But what of the EDL? Yes, they’re idiots and football hooligans and bored married men wanting to revisit their former youthful glories – but look at the images below, taken from Hope Not Hate’s collection, and wonder if the link between Anders Behring Breivik could turn into something more serious, more horrific.

If the threat exists whereby members of the EDL or their offshoots go from photographs to shooting spree, what steps do we take now? Against all terrorist threats on this island of ours, we have to be prepared.






Norway – jumping to conclusions

Labour MP Tom Harris shook up the sensitive elements of Twitter with his reaction to Norway’s bombing and shooting tragedy. His two tweets in question, which kickstarted the keyboard warrioring across Left and Right were:

“Even after Oslo, we’ll still have the apologists for terrorism saying it was caused by “foreign policy” or by “disrespect to the Prophet”.

“If I have unfairly accused militant Islamists for Oslo attacks I apologise and hope it does not interfere with their ongoing charity work.”

It doesn’t take too many Google searches to find blogs where conclusions (and prejudices) are well and truly exposed:

“The Norwegian people need to get rid of their Leftist treasonous government and display some of that old viking blood. Appeasing Islamic aggression hasn’t work. It’s time for Norway to stand against Islamic Imperialism!”

It is easy to wander around messageboards, forums, chatrooms, to see the thought processes which initially linked the attacks to Islamist terrorists, or linked somehow to al Qaeda. It tapped into assumptions and prejudices many of us shared. When I read the details of the news, I couldn’t help but groan. To a Facebook status implying it was Islamic terrorists, I leapt into automatic world-view keyboard warrior. “It was carried out by someone pissed off at the West invading their country,” I posted, fresh with the anti-Libya rage I have held since the start of that particular adventure. On a politics forum I visit, the implied assumption of an Islmaic attack hung around every post.

The man accused of carrying out both attacks. Anders Behring Breivik, does not have the appearance of a radicalised convert. It could be, as more details are known, that he is a crazed, lone individual whose actions come from deep seated concerns of his own. Nationalism, perhaps, such as it might exist in Norway. Despite the assumption jumping, it does not hold too many hallmarks of what would be called a ‘typical’ attack in the Madrid or Bali or London models.

Have we been conditioned, since 9 September 2011, into this automatic unease, this discreet prejudice? Tom Harris, of course, was flamed by the usual suspects who read what they wanted to read; he did not blame “Muslims”, if he actually blamed anyone at all. That does not absolve us of every accusation. The easy and convenient labelling comes from years of conditioning by the media, from whom ‘divide and rule’ retains its news gathering charm.

The existing threat from extremists on all sides keeps us vigil, aware, and ultimately frames how our Governments decide the levels of civil rights and freedoms we can enjoy. We have this situation completely wrong. If Breivik turns out to have no connections to Islamist terrorism, how we reconcile our own beliefs is one thing; how our Governments conclude reconsiderations of civil liberty legislation will be quite another.