Not In My Name

It happened, the government actually agreed to begin airstrikes in Syria, the votes for outweighed the votes against by a significant amount, though the votes against were many and the people of this nation voiced their disagreement but as you’re reading this, either preparations are being made or bombs are being dropped. I cannot condone this, you will never convince me that you can create peace through waging war, if history has taught us anything it is that violence begets violence. The needless deaths of the innocent has begun and the threat of ISIS to the UK has just increased. Now I warn you, whilst I will try to remain civil, I am livid as I write this and this will be an emotionally charged article but I implore you to read the content within and heed the words I write.

Paris was a target for ISIS because France agreed to bomb Syria, following in the wake of Russia who have been making such a move for longer than I care to mention and longer than is justifiable. The government has decided Britain needs to join in, I usually refer to Britain as ‘we’ – ‘we believe, we decided, we are’ – but I am not part of that and the government no longer represents us, considering our current government won on 26% of the votes because most of us just chose not to. ISIS will see this, ISIS will use this as justification to attack us and recruit more people into their fold. I ask you, if your home was blown apart, your family gunned down, your friends abducted and your entire country a barren wasteland and then suddenly someone offers you the chance to take up arms and kill the bastards that did this, would you join them? That’s ISIS. Those refugees we turn away and those innocent people we drop bombs on run, some run to other nations, some run to ISIS and give themselves over to it because hell, if everyone on the planet wanted me dead, I’d blow it up too. An unstable nation of war-ravaged homes and internal strife has now become the bombing grounds of the Western world, a pitiful landmass for everyone to bully because if you shoot enough people, you have to shoot someone worth killing eventually right? The logic of bombs is exactly that, it is fire and forget until every bad guy is dead, but considering we’ve had ISIS operations take place in France, carried out by people who were never Syrians to begin with, we won’t bomb away ideals, we’ll just perpetuate violence. Tragedy does not make the human spirit submit – it hardens it and sets it aflame with the thirst for revenge.

You might argue ISIS has this coming to them, they’re monsters right? Well not all of them and call me a sympathiser if you will, I sympathise with any fucking disenfranchised human being, something happened to them that made them that way and that is what we fix, we don’t fix something that is broken by destroying it. The heads of ISIS, deplorable opportunistic bastards, agreed, get them as fast as we can and then broadcast the message that we have their leaders, there’s no need to fight and then if we offer them the chance to give in and be forgiven, I bet many of them would take it. We could never give back the families we slaughtered but we could offer the chance to rebuild but no, we won’t do that, they’re all heartless savages right? And besides, what is there to profit from in rebuilding their country? This war is a money-making scheme, as David Cameron and his buddies make black market swapsies with Saudi Arabia, a nation with a government notorious for corruption that happen to have a business in giving ISIS weapons for their own gain, using ISIS attacks to ruin nations they don’t much like. The UK government put the smoking pistol in the hands of the shiftiest looking guys they could find and then used it as an excuse to start their idealistic campaign and if we dare have the gall to look into it more deeply, we’re terrorist sympathisers, we’re ISIS propaganda spreaders. You want ISIS propaganda? Here’s some – Join ISIS because if you’re Syrian, you’re pretty much fucked anyway, might as well take someone with you to Hell!

We tried military action against those shifty sods across the sea before, it was got us marching into Iraq and Afghanistan, snooping under rocks for those darn terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, only for the penny to drop much later that we’d ruthlessly attacked a bewildered nation and whilst they were reeling from the punch, we were actually looking for material gain. I wouldn’t be shocked if Syria sat on top of some untouched oil reserves as well. We remember how awful it was last time, it wasn’t a morally clear cut conflict, we saw brave young men either die, lose their limbs or be recorded doing horrific things to innocent people and now we restart the cycle. David Cameron, Tony Blair, the differences are becoming fewer and fewer. All we’ve done is started a new witch hunt because arms dealers need to earn a living too and war is good for business when you’re in a seat that has power behind it, all you have to do is make everyone scared, because scared people are stupid and easy to control. As a result of our actions, we’re going to be waiting a long time before Iraq and Britain have strong relationships as nations, only just recently did America and Cuba patch things up from the goddamn Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962!

Another thing, in this country we’ve heard the word ‘cuts’ more often than a news article about Edward Scissorhands going on a murder spree in a hairdressers but we’re about to spend £12 billion on war efforts. £12 billion? Who agreed to that sum of money, that sum which could have saved so many schools and hospitals from closures, that sum which could be invested into the education of the next generation or the rebuilding of our crippled local councils or, dare I say it, paid into the welfare state that so many people rely on to live? Tax credits cut, police force cuts, NHS cuts, we were told we had to have a tight belt to get by and suddenly the government decides to splash out on some indiscriminate mass murder – we as a nation saved up to buy David Cameron the Christmas prezzie of bomb-blasted Syrian ruins, it was on his list and we didn’t feel quite comfortable with his other request of Jeremy Corbyn grinded up and kept in a binbag. I don’t remember the people being asked if this is what they wanted, this came down to a group of fuddy duddies in suits sitting about bickering about how badly they want a war, the same nonsense that was pulled before we marched into Iraq funnily enough. Huge swathes of British people don’t want war, I don’t war, what happened to our voices? The media certainly didn’t highlight the “Don’t Bomb Syria” movement gathering outside the House of Commons, probably because the guy in charge of it wants very much to bomb Syria. We didn’t choose this, they did, an elite few declared war on behalf of a nation and now everyone is at risk – Syrians will become collateral damage and Brits will become terrorist targets.

Syria, this post is probably not going to reach you but I will say that I’m sorry on behalf of the nation and if I could offer up my life to end the bombing, I’d do so. I know I can’t because death is never an answer, it never fixes anything and I’m sorry because you know that from experience. Your people are going to burn and ISIS will offer you salvation through revenge and if that’s what you want, I implore you to resist the temptation but I cannot blame you if that is what you choose, I would struggle to deny the opportunity to kill someone that killed my brothers or sisters or friends or anyone of relation to me. Know that Britain did not choose this, for too long has our political system inaccurately represented our nation and pinned us under a totalitarian thumb that threatens to remove our human rights with surveillance and regulation. We were never asked, we never took a vote, the number of us that voted on this matter numbered enough to fill a hall, not a country. We wanted that money to save our public services but they took it, they said every penny counted to saving our country so we let them take it but now it seems they took it and invested it in harbingers of death. I weep for your people, for the hundreds of thousands of people like me that will die for the sake of possibly killing hundreds of people who aren’t. I will fight, through word and through deed, and I will never stop screaming at the system because what our government did is not British, nor is it the will of Britain.

Never will I allow death in my name. Never.

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Political Filter

Staying with the topic of the recent tragedies, one thing I noticed people saying about people like me pointing out the “what-aboutisms” of places like Baghdad, Syria and Mexico was an accusation of politicising a tragedy to preach a liberal agenda and of disregarding etiquette and decency in our pursuit to make people listen. To that I say, quite simply, bupkis. You politicised it, we all did, political agendas are an immediate reaction from all of us to any news, any issue immediately forms an opinion within all of us – some of us see a shooter in the news and think “Probably crazy, couldn’t have been helped” and some of us will say “This is why we need better gun control” or “This is why I don’t want my children attending a state school”. You are capable of grieving and thinking simultaneously, the world does not stop and pause at each tragedy in the news and we are sometimes perhaps even desensitised to the real tragedies. So, let’s look into this shall we?

Firstly, the filters, you’ve perhaps got one on but I don’t and neither does my Facebook page. Why? Well you’ve perhaps heard the reasoning in your own news feed – Paris did not suffer alone so why is it only a French filter offered? Sure, could go for the red, white and blue and call it close enough to doing something but that doesn’t sit right because whilst I do not mean to belittle the tragedy of Paris, it hasn’t had the roughest week out of us all, Syria is still getting bombed, Lebanon had just had a day of mourning themselves beforehand and in Palestine, earlier this week, Israeli forces opened fire with ‘intention of lethal force’ on unarmed protesters. Baghdad, Beirut, Mexico, Japan, the world as a whole suffers and each life lost is just as sad as the last, be it in a bomb blast, a shooting, a car crash or whatever other means. So why then has Paris become the symbol of these tragedies, the one we stand in solidarity with above the bombed ruins of Syria or the persecuted peoples of Palestine? I have some thoughts.

My scary gut feeling tells me that perhaps ISIS wants to reveal the selective horror of the Western world, crying tears for the white faces that died in the city of Paris and somehow shrugging when you mention thousands of non-white Syrians fleeing from battlefields. Muslims being the dirty word again, but there are Muslims on both sides, ISIS calls the Christian a heathen but calls their fellow Muslim a traitor for not being ready to die for their cause. Could ISIS be playing right into the “us and them” mentality that permeates the west? Turning against each other as we nitpick which tragedy was the worst and most deserving of attention until we angrily close our borders to each other and shout from a distance at one another? If you mention the deaths outside Paris, you get branded a tactless liberal, a left-winged tosser and so on when this shouldn’t be left-wing versus right-wing, this should be good decent people against terrorists, it serves no merit to us to argue in amongst ourselves. Alternatively, perhaps the argument for why Paris is so tragic is that it is closer to home and hits us harder than deaths in Baghdad and Lebanon, it is in a location you can point out on a map without trying all that hard, a city of culture and repute and that scares us for geopolitical reasoning (If they can do that in Paris, they can do that in France and spread out. Suddenly places like Germany, Spain and England are all within reach and from there, spread further west like a horrifying plague). This could explain the Middle-Eastern mess to some extent – they get away with it in one place and we don’t really care all that much so the radicals move out and suddenly an entire section of the world is dismissed as a war zone full of extremists and bombers.

At a time like this, I cannot stand people taking offence and saying this is too soon for the discussion. No, it is not, it is exactly right – we have a short attention span in our modern world, we either act fast or not at all. If not now, when? When is it ok to discuss things from a rational standpoint? I was pleasantly surprised when I posted on here about 9/11 needing to lose the pedestal of the worst tragedy in recent history that I didn’t get grilled into submission and apology but I can perhaps chalk that up to a small reader base. 9/11 needs to lose that by the way, currently the ‘worst’ tragedy in recent history is the Syrian crisis, there are more refugees fleeing Syria now than ever fled their homes in the entire Second World War. The Syrian Crisis is having a worse fallout than a World War! Put away national security and identity and solidarity with ‘allies’ (Like Americans saying “The French were Americans on 9/11, we are French today”, you’re not, you put a filter on your profile pic, well done for your political instagramming) and realise that this is all of us, terrorism can succeed anywhere it is not opposed.

No more sombre-head hanging, no more immigration clampdowns, no more floral tributes and blames games, now is the time to say enough is enough because this is a problem we all face. Until we have crushed this terrorism that drives us to fear and hatred of one another, we need to stop being divided within our own ranks. Realise that you are not an American or an Englishman, you’re not a liberal or a conservative, you’re not a Christian or a Muslim, you’re a human being and somewhere out there is a group of people thinking that it is okay to execute your fellow men in droves. Stop them. Stand together as a species and stop them before they win because if we don’t, we’ll hate each other, we’ll cut our connections and then a few strategics here and there can bring each of us down one by one and nobody will help us. Mourn the lost but let that grief motivate you to save the living and fight the fight against the wicked.

Silenced Cinema

Trigger Warnings – Death, terror, strong language

Sony has decided to scrap their comedy ‘The Interview’ starring Seth Rogen and James Franco on a trip to North Korea and their humorous adventures with crazed tyrant Kim Jong-Un after the hackers responsible for the Sony leaks have declared that they will carry out “9/11 style” attacks on any theatre showing the film in and so as a result pretty much every cinema chain in the US has thrown their hands up and refused to show the film, the actors have sworn off publicising it and aside from the discussions of terrorism, people are doing their best to bury the film before it even hits the screens. So, let’s discuss this shall we, is this the right move to make?

Personally, I can understand where the cinema chains are coming from, they don’t want to run the risk of being the ones who laughed at a terror threat and got their customers killed in an explosion. However, the US Secretary of Defence has said these threats could not be realistically acted upon and there is no genuine concern of a terror conspiracy on American soil and we are unsure who is behind this and their capacity to deliver on their promises, it could possibly be the work of North Korea, it could be radicals, it could be pretty much anyone at this point. Frankly, if the stakes were lower, we’d be pointing the finger at Sony and calling it a stunt but considering Sony has been telling cinema chains they’re free to opt out of showing the film, it seems unlikely they would be the culprits. Opinions on this matter are pretty divided and whilst I live in the UK, was never that interested in the film and have no connection to Sony, I want to express my own opinion and I think I will raise some points worth considering hopefully.

By making this decision to allow cinemas not to show the film and these cinema chains then acting on it and choosing not to, America has lost the war on terrorism tonight, it has shown that it can buckle, it can bow down and it can be scared. I understand, of course, this is a scary set of circumstances and whilst it is tempting to flip these hackers the bird and show the film anyway, if you’re the only company doing that whilst your peers hide in the safety of the shadows, you will be the target for these attacks and you will be the one the public chases with flaming torches should just one life be lost. Hollywood is the realm of the safe bet, it is a business based upon security, not risk, and this film will likely be brushed under the carpet as another bad move we should all forget about like The Lone Ranger movie. Sony is no stranger to bad decisions, they can just throw this film away and say “Well we are the same people that refused to team up with Marvel so…” but in this instance people would sympathise, no film is worth showing if the audience could be killed for watching it. However, my point is this, terrorism is not just about mass shootings and blowing up buildings, those are the tactics, not the goal – the goal is fear, the goal is to create a nation living in a state of panic and anxiety, afraid of what will happen next. Sound familiar?

Backing down has shown that the once indomitable giant that is the US can now be brought to its knees by vague threats from glorified cyber bullies, imagine if this continues? How many companies and businesses would crash and burn in a world ruled by the whims of those that are crafty with a keyboard? Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Fox, Michael Bay – all subjects of ire by the public for various reasons, be it tax evasion, bias media or ruining childhoods, any anonymous threat that gets the public spotlight could now potentially bring the American society to a total brick-shitting pause. Famous American actor Rob Lowe likened Sony to Neville Chamberlain. If you don’t get this reference, Neville Chamberlain watched passively as Hitler amassed power and when Hitler became a threat, Neville decided to visit him and talk to him and ask him politely to stop doing naughty things to which Hitler said he’d behave, fingers crossed behind his back. Of course, Hitler didn’t behave and war broke out, much to Chamberlain’s surprise and the British people regretted not having a leader who had the stones to step in earlier and tell Hitler to get stuffed, which is around the time Churchill stepped in and said the Nazis are bastards, let’s show them how the British rumble. Britain became a huge target for carpet bombing by the Nazi forces and Churchill never once begged for mercy for his people or pursued peace with Hitler’s regime, he had faith in the strength of the nation to endure every single blast with that British resilience and in the end, the plucky Brits gave Hitler what for. Sony, not so much, the terrorists won.

Ok, but I respect Sony is a business trying to protect itself and the cinemas are trying to protect the public, however we can’t just not ever show this film for fear of angering the thugs of the internet or else we basically have a censorship regime being enforced by a faceless entity that we have no idea as to what motivates them to such acts. So, what do we do? Simple – Sony, make that film available to stream online, hand it over to Netflix who have money to spend on anything that can appear on a TV screen and get them to make it available to as many people as possible across the fucking globe. Imagine if every household in the US streamed that film, that threat of bombing just became impossible to pull off. We cannot let terrorists win, you Americans love to big up your freedom and badassery so live up to it, show these cyber bitches that you don’t take shit from cowards and play that film on every screen that will show it. Sony, you could be the vanguard in the battle on terror or you could cry in the corner and beg for mercy, you hold a trump card and you could play it to watch these terrorists crumple.

Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation to enforce your belief system or your desires as a ruling force, it is about making your targets fear your name, your appearance, even flinch at the words you write and speak – so far, that is a tactic that is succeeding. People rise to violence and get nervous around anyone in a burka, we judge people by religion and race and the moment someone mentions the word ‘bomb’, we scurry around in a mad panic. I’m not trying to underestimate or play down the horror of what terror plots can do but if their objective is to create fear and promote chaos, we have to draw a line in the sand and stop taking shit, we need to say “Enough is enough, you won’t scare us like this any more, fuck you, we’re fighting back!”

Sony, the ball is in your court.