Thursday, July 28, 2005

Voices in the wilderness

United we stand, divided we fall... or do we? The message overwhelming the public airwaves and tabloids these days is that "we stand together" in the face of adversity. The call from media and MPs alike to remember that "we are one" when confronted by a common enemy is striking, bold, and gives us hope.

But it's all too easy to get carried away in a tidal wave of patriotic affirmation, to try and find meaning in a world we can't fully understand, yet perceive to be going tits up. And so it's all too easy to rally alongside the calls for strength. But in echoes of the post-September 11th USA, it takes a lot more strength to go beyond this, and to question the majority.

It's worth highlighting, then, the few people in a position of power who are willing to put their reputation on the line, and challenge the official line no matter who tries to shout them down.

Props, then, to Dr Mohammed Naseem, chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, who seeks to remind us that "we cannot give our blind trust to the government", and actually remembers such frivolities as "democracy and ... law" while MP for the area, Khalid Mahmood, tries to dismiss his remarks as trying to "make cheap political points".

And shouts out to one Cherie "Blair" Booth, who spoke these words in Malaysia:

"at the same time it is all too easy for us to respond to such terror in a way which undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and which cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilised nation"

Perhaps her husband should remember this as he embarks upon his next mission.

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