Not Getting It

Today, on the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London, we learn in the Times that security agencies are monitoring round the clock two active terorist cells known to be planning attacks in Britain. These stand out from other security operations apparently because they have discussed actual methods of attack. Despite such disclosures, coming on the heels too of the Centre for Social Cohesion Report about the extent of radicalisation in the UK, there is a remarkable popular ambivalence about the level of threat facing us. Establishment attempts to keep a lid on things have led to a confused picture, which in turn has resulted in denial, ignorance and resignation amongst much of the population. We have not really moved on from 7/7 in this respect. Despite the mythology, instantly created at the time, that Londoners showed great stoicism and resolve on that day in 2005, the truth as I recall it was somewhat different; there was a blankness, even indifference, in the reactions of many. As an example of heroic communal spirit at work, New York in the aftermath of 9/11 beats London hands down.There’s also complacency. The journalist Peter Oborne, otherwise right on many issues, showed an extraordinary lack of reality in his review of a book about Muslim attitudes to the bombings in the Mail last week, in which he stated that we should take encouragement from the lack of attacks since 7/7, which had also, he said, revealed put-upon Muslims as the real long-term victims. Has he forgotten for example the thwarting of the Bluewater plot, or the plan to bring down several Atlantic flights at once?Our cutting edge, envelope-pushing arts coummunity have, likewise, barely addressed 7/7 and the events surrounding it. Perhaps that’s to be expected; the arts long ago gave up genuinely taking on the big issues. Except of course in a way which is utterly predictable. So we have a new film, London River, which mostly avoids any difficult terrain. Instead it follows two people who are searching for their missing respective children in the aftermath of the bombings and who, yes, come together. The woman is narrow-minded and white, the man an Afican Muslim whose cummunity is portrayed as utterly without blemish. Of course.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens
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