Monday, 2 May 2011

Bin Laden - that psychotic sonofabitch - is dead: let the “Buts” commence

I generally avoid quoting from the Old Testament, but I’m going to indulge myself just this once:
“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but
             terror to  evildoers” – Proverbs 21:15
I don’t know as I’m particularly righteous, but I’m certainly full of joy that a psychopath so vile that probably even the Guardian might think twice about giving  him a column has had his brains blown out by a US Navy SEAL. 

Before this morning, I had experienced four “where were you when you heard that…” international events – the death of Kennedy, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the death of Princess Diana, and 9/11 (inside Bush House, about to have a meeting with OnDigital executives - yes, it was that long ago). Now, the news that Osama Bin Laden has been sent straight to Hell  can be added to the list. (As you ask, I had just switched to the BBC News Channel while preparing to tuck into a bowl of cornflakes.)

I hopped over to Fox News sharpish, where one of the presenters suggested that throwing Bin Laden’s body off a tall building would have been “more appropriate” than “burying” him at sea, and enjoyed overnight scenes of patriotic joy at Ground Zero, West Point Military Academy, and in front of the White House. Never have I heard the lines “Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” delivered so passionately.

A few random observations (some of which I may have to weasel out of in the light of subsequent revelations):

Bin Laden was living in a compound eight time larger than its neighbours, amongst retired military types, a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s top military academy, surrounded by 18 foot walls and with no phone or internet connection. And the Pakistani security forces supposedly didn’t suspect a thing.

Yeah, likely. 

It seems reasonable to ask, yet again, why Pakistan is evidently such a deeply ghastly country. And, given its apparent unwillingness to track down and hand over a foreign mass murderer - one who has, it’s estimated, killed 5000 members of its security services and 30,000 of its own people - what exactly did the billions in aid given to it by Western democracies actually achieve? It may be time to revisit this modern version of the Danegeld strategy.

A former US military type on Fox, discussing the fact that the rats trapped in Bin Laden’s compound had attempted to use a handy woman as a human shield, pointed out that the Special Forces who exterminated Bin Laden live by a code of honour – terrorists don’t. I’m as queasy as most Westerners when it comes to some of the interrogation methods used at Guantanamo – but given the suggestion that it was information extracted from detainees there that eventually led to the discovery of Osama’s lair, I’m happy to go on taking Kwells while giving thanks that others are prepared to do things to protect me that your standard Hollywood liberal or left-wing blogger might balk at. (And it would also explain why Obama reneged on his pledge to shut Guantanamo – he’s a lousy President, certainly, but evidently not that stupid.)

Let’s all start scouring the airwaves and newspaper websites for the “But” brigade. Yes, they’re pleased Obama has paid for his crimes, but… the Americans should have kept the Pakistanis informed of their actions, it should have left to Pakistan to attack the compound and arrest Bin Laden, Bin Laden should have been arrested and read his rights before being put on trial, his body should have been given a decent burial, the manner of his death was a deliberate insult to Muslims, this will inflame the passions of Muslims everywhere, Al-Qaeda will be even more dangerous following this set-back, Americans shouldn’t have indulged in such crass displays of nationalistic triumphalism, the American imperialism that led to 9/11 is still infuriating Muslims around the globe, the UN should have been informed first etc. etc. 

From the off, the main thing that seemed to be obsessing BBC newsreaders was whether the success of the operation would lead to a surge of support for their great hero, President Obama.

Speaking of whom, why does Obama always come across as a state school headmaster reporting that the Head of Geography has been dismissed following inappropriate conduct with a female pupil? Dubya was dreadfully inarticulate, but at least you occasionally got a hint of passion behind his squinty little eyes. Barry has one of those reassuringly deep Afro-American voices, but seems have mislaid any charisma and charm he may once have possessed: when he should sound strong, he comes over as petulant. Hilary Clinton gave a far more impressive performance a few hours later – can’t stand the woman, but she fills me with more confidence than her dreary boss.

In 2009, the Palestinians voted Hamas into power. Today Hamas praised Bin Laden as an “Arab holy warrior”. Excuse me if I go on supporting Israel.

Finally, It seems ridiculous for someone who didn’t suffer in any way from what happened on 9/11 to talk of “closure”, but the first thing that went through my mind when I heard today’s news was those British Muslim schoolchildren (to whose parents the civilised, democratic, generous West had offered a haven from danger, persecution and poverty), who, interviewed on 9/11, sniggered about all those “yuppies” jumping to their death from the Twin Towers. Maybe they’ve turned into decent human beings in the meantime, and are as delighted as the rest of us at today’s events – if, however, multiculturalism has kept them in hate-filled ignorance, I hope that, at the very least, Bin Laden’s death at the hands of American heroes will have wiped the nasty little smirks from the ungrateful little shits’ faces.

Several of my right-wing heroes – including Enoch Powell – rather despised America. I very much don’t. Thank God the USA is still the most powerful country in the world, despite four undistinguished presidents in a row (as a colleague at the BBC once remarked – quietly – it’s lucky that our three greatest global empires have been Rome, Great Britain and the USA).

High-fives all round, and God Bless the United States of America!


  1. Excellent I agree with your sentiments entirely. I hope the great rubber-lipped psychopath suffered the same kind of terror as his thousands of victims. Three comments:

    1. It is a pity that it happened on Obama's watch. His eagerness to establish ownership of the operation ["At my direction", "I authorised", "I determined", "I directed" etc] was distasteful. His rhetorical style is now a joke [see Jimmy Carter]. He is going to hold a ceremony at the former World Trade Centre [or Ground Zero, as we are supposed to say] site to milk even more votes. He is the most light-weight post-war President since JFK and this event will probably guarantee his re-election. And the European counterweight? A bunch of clowns - Sarkozy, Merkel, Berlusconi, Cameron/Clegg. But not the cold-eyed, ex-KGB operative Putin. Come back the Gipper. We need you now. Or LBJ. Or Trickie himself. It's not about Democrats or Republicans, but about people who understand "Realpolitik". Poltically naive? Yes. But we need some hard men to take charge again.

    2. When bin Laden [the ex- Laird of Abbotandcostellobat] meets his 70 virgins I hope they all look like the hatchet-faced Commissar Polly Toynbee. That should detumesce him.

    3. I caught the news about bin Laden on The World Service yesterday morning at 5am [2nd May]. Between then and about now the only new items to emerge was that they took his DNA, consigned him to the vasty deep and nobody told the hopeless Pakistanis. I wonder how many millions of useless, ill-informed words have been expended during that period. This modern news-gathering industry needs a fundamental re-think. I wonder if the "news" boys ever consider the marketing expression "consumer want"? [I cite the endless coverage of the AV referundum].

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 10:31 PM

  2. IIt was an event that caught the BBC and others on the hop. I started listening to R4 at 6 am but gave up and went downstairs to watch the Fox TV coverage after one of the Today announcers introduced, in best BBC empathy training course tones, a parent who had lost a son in 9/11 only to receive a reply along the lines of 'Actually I'm a political analyst at the Rand Corporation'. As ever, the BBC was struggling for an angle rather than doing their job of simple, factual reporting. And then the other thing the Beeb always does - wheel out the has beens. Reid, Blunkers, a retired Professor of Conflict Studies at Neasden University, a chap I met in a pub once..Enough.

    Your list of 'I remember where I was' moments is identical to mine. I still can't think of the fall of the Berlin Wall without wanting to punch the air like a footballer, made even more thrilling by being so completely unexpected, at least at that pace. It is brilliantly analysed by Victor Sebestyen in his book 'Revolution 1989: the Fall of the Soviet Empire', as exciting as any Bourne film.
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 12:46 PM

  3. A round-up of the buts, yets, thoughs, howevers and neverthelesses

    At considerable risk to his mental and moral health, your brave correspondent reports here on 17 opinion pieces -- yes, 17 -- emanating from the Tora Bora of newspaper publishing, The Guardian, in the 18 hours between 0800 on 2 May 2011 and 2000 on 3 May 2011, please see and

    1. Harry Kunzru (0801 2.5.11) You may think the headline was written by a brilliantly satirical sub: “Osama bin Laden's death has created an atmosphere of hope and change”. Wrong. Mr Kunzru means it: “... we got in a cab and headed down to Ground Zero ... More than anything it was reminiscent of the atmosphere on Obama's election night ... This night seems to mark a fleeting return to the atmosphere of 2008, the "hope" and "change" that brought Obama to power”.

    2. Jason Burke (0811 2.5.11) With Osama bin Laden dead, whither Al Qaeda? Mr Burke doesn’t know. But he thinks Al Qaeda is suffering from “creeping marginalisation” -- other correspondents disagree, as we shall see. And he thinks that “... the Arab Spring demonstrated how Bin Laden's message had been rejected by those hundreds of millions he once sought to radicalise and mobilise”. All correspondents seem to think that the Arab Spring is a popular democracy movement that will result in popular democracy. Let’s wait and see. If they turn out to be wrong, it will no doubt be America’s fault.

    3. Jonathan Steel (0930 2.5.11) “Osama bin Laden's killing is a huge victory for the Obama administration and it will go a long way towards giving closure to Americans. But ...”. Some good parts in the middle of this curate’s egg of an article. My own belief is that Johnny Taleban was doing a splendid job in Afghanistan -- they had eradicated the poppy trade -- before the Pentagon decided to invade. Since then, all their good work has been undone. What an intelligent man, I was beginning to think, Mr Steel agrees with me, but then he blotted his copybook with this: “His [Bazza’s] speech last night set a tone that was markedly different from the White House triumphalism that greeted the capture of Saddam Hussein ... It was measured and diplomatic”. In Mr Steel’s opinion: “Now that bin Laden has been found and killed in Pakistan, and al-Qaida has dispersed across the region to north Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq, Obama again has the chance to choose ...”. If that is Mr Burke’s “creeping marginalisation”, thank goodness Al Qaeda haven’t enjoyed burgeoning success.

    4. Simon Tisdall (1106 2.5.11) “The extraordinary discovery that Osama bin Laden had been living, possibly since 2005, in a luxury compound in a popular summer resort a short drive from the national capital, Islamabad, is an enormous and dangerous embarrassment for Pakistan's government” -- yes, it is a bit embarrassing, isn’t it. Perhaps if the Pentagon had invaded next door back in 2001 ... Anyway, Mr Tisdall thinks Pakistan better watch out. And not just for the Americans. The Indians are a bit nervy, too.

    5. Karen Greenberg (1530 2.5.11) “How Osama bin Laden perverted US justice ... What we need to remember, though, is that the effect of bin Laden's reign of terror on the notion of justice was to pervert it” -- she’s right, isn’t she. The lightweights and clowns identified by SDG have betrayed the American people and everyone else in the West. And what happened when the SEALs had an unarmed bin Laden in front of them and three working helicopters left? “We ran, knowingly, from the chance to hold him in custody, and to punish him by due process and make him account to the world for what he has done”, that’s what. Let’s see how Bazza wriggles out of that one.


  4. 6. Andrew Murray (1630 2.5.11) Like many correspondents, Mr Murray has noticed that a lot of people have died in the past ten years, and it’s all America’s fault: “Let us recall that nearly all of those dead as a consequence of the neocon war – a million by now ? – were as innocent of involvement in the attacks on New York and Washington as those caught in the World Trade Centre were of any offence against Muslims”. But America was reacting to 9/11. It’s all bin Laden’s fault. Like many correspondents, Murray uses the occasion of bin Laden’s death to further other agendas: “withdrawal of the armies of occupation from that country [Afghanistan] ... It means President Obama renewing his swiftly abandoned efforts to halt Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and pushing for a lasting agreement offering justice to the Palestinian people ... And it means withdrawing support from the collection of autocrats, royal and republican alike, who have sat atop the Arab peoples in the western interest for too long. The uprisings throughout the region have not yet led to the required rethink. Still policy in London and Washington oscillates between armed interference (Libya) and support for repression (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia)”. He may not mean to, but Mr Murray makes the case for laissez faire, a case Washington, London and others would do well to heed.

    7. Mark Lawson (1748 2.5.11) I said to my wife a few days after 9/11, I did, I said to her, looking at a picture of bin Laden in his robes, just like that, I said “that’s what Christ looked like”. She gave me a funny look. Anyway, Mark Lawson agrees: “Indeed, part of the provocation bin Laden offered to his enemies (especially America) in the historically Christian west was his curious resemblance, in his penetrating eyes and cloudy beard, to classical depictions of Jesus Christ”.

    8. Simon Jenkins (2044 2.5.11) “We shed no tears for Osama bin Laden. The most outrageous act of terrorism in modern times has led to the most gigantic manhunt and most costly tit-for-tat war. America's joy, as much of relief as of delight, is understandable. But ...”. A reprise of Mr Jenkins’s unanswerable argument that invading Afghanistan was the most stupid thing America could do, except invading Iraq. I agree. In each case, they got the wrong country. It’s the neighbours they should have invaded. In the event, Iran has been strengthened, Russia, too, as SDG reminds us, and China can just sit there and bide its time. Idiots.

  5. 9. Abdel Bari Atwan (0033 3.5.11) “When I met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, in Afghanistan in 1996, he told me his greatest ambition in life was to die a martyr's death and join those who had gone before him in paradise ... in a 2004 interview with my newspaper, Al-Quds al-Arabi, his former bodyguard, ‘Abu Jandal’, disclosed that the al-Qaida leader had ordered him to shoot him dead if ever he was surrounded and in imminent danger of capture. Abu Jandal spoke of a special pistol loaded with only two bullets that he had been given for the purpose”. So, was it a SEAL or did the bodyguard kill bin Laden. I don’t know. Neither does Mr Atwan.

    10. Andrea LeBlanc 0033 3.5.11 Ms LeBlanc is a 9/11 widow. She says: “we believe justice is achieved in the courtroom, not on the battlefield”. Yes, madam, but ... sometimes a just battle is called for, to avoid the battle is unjust. Let’s not get into that just now, Ms LeBlanc, you are understandably very upset, let me cheer you up a bit if I can -- when you say “his [bin Laden’s] death has undoubtedly made him a martyr”, I think you are wrong. At least in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I believe that the status quo ante described by Simon Jenkins will be re-established: “I recall the Afghan diplomat who told me in the weeks between 9/11 and the assault on Kabul of October 2001 that, provided the west did not go to war against Afghanistan, "Bin Laden is dead". A Pashtun loya jirga in Kandahar that September had come near to demanding that Mullah Omar expel Bin Laden and his Arabs. The view of observers was that opinion was moving against Omar's indulgence of them ... Above all, al-Qaida's murder of the Tajik hero Ahmad Shah Massoud two days before 9/11, meant that every loyal Tajik wanted Bin Laden's blood. He and his hated Arabs had become "unwelcome guests" in Afghanistan”. Cheer up. You may be wrong.


    Ten down, 7 to go, back later ...
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 02:00 PM

  6. A round-up of the buts, yets, thoughs, howevers and neverthelesses #2 of 3

    At considerable risk to his mental and moral health, your brave correspondent reports here on 17 opinion pieces -- yes, 17 -- emanating from the Tora Bora of newspaper publishing, The Guard-ian, in the 18 hours between 0800 on 2 May 2011 and 2000 on 3 May 2011, please see and

    ... 11. Guardian editorial (3.5.11) “Buried in this final reckoning is that fact that, inOsama bin Laden's war against the US, countless more Muslims paid with their lives than Americans, Britons, Australians or Spaniards did ... The result of this fratricidal carnage is that al-Qaida has now lost what fatal attraction it once held for anti-imperialists. There is no more potent sign of the loss of al-Qaida's brand leadership of revolt than the Arab spring ...” -- putting the wide-eyed innocence re the Arab Spring to one side, is it my imagination or are the Guardian saying that bin Laden should not be ad-mired by his brother Muslims because he has caused their deaths by the thousand? Looks like it. That said, the Americans have been guilty of “a litany of miscalculation and disaster [in] the post-9/11 dec-ade” and they provide “an object lesson in how not to react to an ideology whose whole purpose is to create a Manichean divide between Muslims and the western world”. Has the lesson been learned? “Pakistan is the litmus test ... The biggest test of a new approach will be Pakistan ... If America seri-ously wants to start high-level talks with the Taliban, it will be the ISI that will enable those to happen”. A tough call. But luckily: “A terrible life that brought misery to thousands is now over. Ending the leg-acy of that conflict will require all of Mr Obama's earliest and truest instincts. He now has the authority to carry them out”. So we’ve had it, then.

    12. Mark Weisbrot (0152 3.5.11) “To a huge part of the Muslim world, it looks like the United States is carrying out a modern-day crusade against them, despite President Obama's assertions to contrary Sunday night” -- see, they’re not as dim as they look. According to Mr Weisbrot, the US, the world and all journalists have been missing the Cold War. They went cold turkey for 10 years and then gratefully put Al Qaeda on the USSR podium: “For a decade prior to the 9/11 attacks, Washington was without such an overall ideological framework ... The ‘war on terror’ was made to order for the post-cold war era”. Call me old-fashioned but don’t the Crusades rather pre-date the Cold War? And does Mr Weis-brot get paid to write this stuff?

    13. Mona Eltahawy (3.5.11) “I was heeding a friend's suggestion that we – both Muslims – take can-dles and stand in vigil where the World Trade Centre stood before Bin Laden's footsoldiers took it down ... So it was a shock to find hundreds of others had turned that hallowed ground into the scene of a home crowd celebrating an away victory”. A shock? Really?

  7. 14. Robert Lambert (1308 3.5.11) “... the strategists determining US counterterrorism policy have shown a disregard for effective counterterrorism and instead fostered continuity with the war on terror ... According to al-Qaida propagandist Saif al-Adl, 9/11 was intended to provoke the US to ‘lash out militarily against the ummah’ in the manner if not the scale of ‘the war on terror’ ... ‘The Ameri-cans took the bait,’ he continues, ‘and fell into our trap’ – no doubt using hindsight to describe al-Qaida's ability to predict the massive scale and range of the military responses to 9/11”.

    15. Karima Bennoune (1400 3.5.11) “...a 2009 study of Arabic media sources by the Combating Ter-rorism Centre at West Point found that only 15% of all of the casualties of al-Qaida between 2004 and 2008 were westerners. Between 2006-2008, the most recent period the study examined, fully 98% of al-Qaida's victims were inhabitants of Muslim majority countries ... . If he [bin Laden, obviously] is re-membered only as an enemy of the United States of America, as someone whose death is simply a vindication of US patriotism, this narrative obscures the terrible harm he did to the very Muslims he falsely claimed to be defending. This point is critical in shaping public opinion in the societies and populations where al-Qaida and its splinter groups have sought recruits, safe haven, financing and sympathy (or at least tolerance)”. Good point, surely, let’s see if Western propagandists can actually get this point across or at least not actually disarm it.

    16. Adam Curtis (1830 3.5.11) “The horrific thing about Osama bin Laden was that he helped to kill thousands of innocent people throughout the world. But he was also in a strange way a godsend to the west. He simplified the world. When communism collapsed in 1989 ...” -- yes, yes, Adam, we’ve already read that one. “Al-Qaida became the new Soviet Union” -- you’ve already said that. “The power of this simple story propelled history forward” -- you cannot mean that, Adam, it’s nonsense. “As journalists and Predator drones searched for the different al-Qaida ‘brands’ across the regions, and America propped up dictators who promised to fight the ‘terror network’, a whole new generation emerged in the Middle East who wanted to get rid of the dictators” -- don’t tell me, Adam, the Arab Spring? Yes, the very same: “the revolutions that this led to came as a complete shock to the west. We have no idea, really, who the revolutionaries are or what, if any, ideologies are driving them. But it is becoming abundantly clear that they have nothing to do with ‘al-Qaida’” -- hang on a minute, Adam, only 10 words ago you didn’t have a clue, now it’s abundantly clear? “Yet ironically they are achieving one of Bin Laden's main goals – to get rid of the ‘near enemy’, dictators such as Hosni Mubarak” -- that’s it, I’m banning the word “irony” and its cognates. Have you got anything else to tell us, Adam? Yes? OK, let’s hear it, try not to trip over while thinking: “With Bin Laden's death maybe the spell is broken. It does feel that we are at the end of a way of looking at the world that makes no real sense any longer. But the big question is where will the next story come from? And who will be the next bad-die? The truth is that the stories are always constructed by those who have the power. Maybe the next big story won't come from America. Or possibly the idea that America's power is declining is ac-tually the new simplistic fantasy of our age”. I didn’t even have to make that up. He actually wrote it.


    Readers who choked on the first of these 17 articles should be warned that the last could have an even more dangerous effect on you. It is being held over to a third post. In the interim, while waiting, you might be well advised to get a large support team around you, experts, Navy SEALs if you’ve got any. You’re going to need them.
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 03:46 PM

  8. Gillian Reynolds, the Telegraph’s radio critic, agreed with you, Ex-KCS – she also said the Today Programme didn’t seem to know which line to take: “Naughtie was badly briefed on some interviewees and Webb seemed unsure which angle of the story to address”. She wondered if years of cuts might have been to blame, but I suspect that it’s the programme’s obsession with making the day’s news rather than reporting what’s happened that’s to blame – that and its unrelenting anti-Americanism. They will have been convinced that something had to be wrong with the operation and that America must have cocked it up as usual. (Wait a week and this will have been turned into a disaster for the US.)
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 11:16 PM

  9. I’d be interested to hear what your Point 4 was going to be, SDG! No doubt Barry will milk this for all it’s worth – but my personal view is that the American economy is so bad, even killing a piece of vile scum like Bin Laden won’t save him: the Republicans will do that by choosing a monumentally lousy candidate.

    I wonder if they really believe that virgin stuff. I mean – really?
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 11:20 PM

  10. I’m looking forward to Part 3, DM – and I’m delighted you’re prepared to sift through the sewage floating through the Guardian website so the rest of us don’t have to. I was thinking of doing something along similar lines, but the first thing I read was Michael White describing it as a “John Wayne” operation, and hit “Back” at that instant – I see the old chap wandering through the streets of Chiswick occasionally and don’t want to be arrested for shouting abuse at an OAP. Imagine, whenever anything good happens, having to immediately think up ways of calling it bad – how depressing! I have a feeling the appalling and evident illegality of the murder of this harmless family man will be the refrain for the next few days – that and the inevitability of retaliation. Meanwhile, representing the good guys, Norman Tebbit made this very salient point on the Torygraph site: “Had he managed to get his wife and family in first he would have had a very strong case on grounds of his right to family life, and a nice house all paid for by the British taxpayers, not to mention plenty of friends in our universities.” He also expressed what I felt when I saw Tony Blair celebrating the assassination of a terrorist – here’s a man who let any number of murdering Irish gangsters walk free celebrating the fact that justice had been done in the case of Bid Laden. That’s racism, that is!
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 11:32 PM

  11. A round-up of the buts, yets, thoughs, howevers and neverthelesses #3 of 3

    At considerable risk to his mental and moral health, your brave correspondent reports here on 17 opinion pieces -- yes, 17 -- emanating from the Tora Bora of newspaper publishing, The Guardian, in the 18 hours (oops, that should be 36 hours) between 0800 on 2 May 2011 and 2000 on 3 May 2011, please see and

    The writer of the 17th article distinguished himself in the run-up to the general election last year. In a fine example of the craft, this political philosopher began an article* with: “I hate Tories”. This apparently was his only reason for voting Labour. “I hate them for a reason. For lots of reasons, actually. For the miners, apartheid, Bobby Sands, Greenham Common, selling council houses, Section 28, lining the pockets of the rich and hammering the poor ... I hate them because they hate people I care about.” Do they? Who are these people the writer cares about? He seems to hate everyone. Who is it the Tories are supposed to hate? Do they hate anyone?

    “I was raised in the Labour tribe. But over the last 15 years that tribe left me, or rather showed such disdain for me that I felt I had to leave. They did terrible things I did not want to be associated with. I grew to loathe them, too”, siad our writer, “but there was lament in my loathing”. Lament in my loathing? Eh?

    “Labour left me tribeless. The only way I could define myself electorally was by what I was not. And I am not a Tory ... I don't hate them because they're rich ... The fact that Cameron went to Eton is irrelevant ... I hate him because he supports the rich and wants people who go to Eton to enjoy even more breaks than they already have”. Some confusion there, surely.

    “I also hate them because for a long time they kept winning, and were able to convince more people than we could by appealing to their most base instincts” -- these people with base instincts clearly shouldn’t be given the vote, not in a “proper” democracy. “The memory of them and the prospect of them make me want to retch”.

    “... the only thing that is really holding my interest at this stage: the one thing that would really make my Friday morning would be to see Cameron crushed and Osborne despondent. To see them miss this own goal and descend into bitter recrimination”.

    You get the idea.

  12. The owner of this happy soul, the winner of the ray of sunshine competition (astute political commentators class), the writer of the 17th article, is one Gary Younge (2000 3.5.11): “The patriotic impulse in American society is intense and pervasive ... The flags are always out; the pledge is recited every day in schools. The muscle that converts shared citizenship into a form of national genius is well-trained and prepared ... While many nations suffered from al-Qaida's terrorism and few in the world will mourn Bin Laden's death, the United States is the only place where it sparked spontaneous outpourings of raucous jubilation”.

    Gary, the US is also the only place where the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and Flight 93 were. You, surely, with your well-trained and prepared hatred and loathing muscles, you above all, should understand something of what patriotism is. But no. Where patriotism should be, you don’t seem to have a place: “The national unity that Barack Obama has sought to harness following the announcement is indeed eerily familiar ... it's the same kind of unity that followed 9/11. It is also the same kind of unity that rallies around flags, dismisses dissent and disdains reflection. And however comforting it may have been at the time, the consequences of that kind of unity has been disastrous”.

    Gary, the US has reflected and agonised over 9/11 for the best part of ten years, it’s not the US, it’s you who dismiss dissent and disdain reflection, you’ve told us that yourself, at some length.

    Gary, good things are made with the energy of patriotism, but perhaps you can’t see that, perhaps not even an emotional range that goes all the way from hatred at one end to loathing at the other is broad enough.

    Gary, if coming together in times of despair and coming together in times of joy are both the wrong kind of unity, what is the right kind? The unity of seeing Cameron crushed and Osborne despondent?

    “This was not so much the exercise of American power as the performance of it” -- come again?

    “... news of Bin Laden's death was yet another mediated milestone in this war on an abstract noun”. What is a mediated milestone? And no, 3,000 people weren’t killed by an abstract noun, Gary.

    “Hundreds and thousands of innocent Afghanis, Iraqis and Pakistanis have been murdered as a result of America's response to 9/11. If it's righteous vengeance they're after, Americans would not be first in line. Fortunately it is not a competition, and there is enough misery to go around”. Fortunately? Oh thank goodness, at least we have plenty of misery?

    Gary, 3,000 people died on bin Laden’s instructions. They were people. They knew people. People knew them. But to you, Gary, there are no people, are there? Not even you, you poor, lost, soul. Just tribes. And some tribes have abandoned you. And you don’t want to join the other tribes. You’re all alone, aren’t you, there’s your unity at last.


    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 11:33 PM

  13. Gary Younge is evidently not a real person: he has been invented by a middle-aged satirist. Think about it “I hate the Tories… for the miners, apartheid, Bobby Sands, Greenham Common, selling council houses, Section 28, lining the pockets of the rich and hammering the poor ... I hate them because they hate people I care about.” Are we seriously expected to believe that any young adult alive in Britain in 2010 would still be droning on about Bobby Sands and Greenham Common and selling council houses – a shit-smeared mass-murdering caliban, a bunch of half-witted, hysterical middle-class women determined to leave their country open to attack by the most brutally repressive regime the world had ever seen, and a policy which allowed hundreds of thousands of relatively poor people to experience the pride and sense of personal responsibility that comes from owning their own property. Surely only a 50-something right-wing satirist could imagine that even a left-winger could be that stupid and backward-looking!

    Unfortunately, no. Gary Younge, Wikipedia tells us, is the Guardian’s New York columnist and a lecturer in Brooklyn. So that’s why he appears to be stuck in a time-warp – first, he was in his early teens when the Thatcher revolution happened, and doesn’t appear to have developed intellectually or emotionally since those heady days of political awakening in Stevenage. Second, he doesn’t even live here, so he doesn’t realize how fantastically silly he sounds (except to Guardian readers) – personally, I try to live close to people I really care about, rather than 3000 miles away. Gary’s brother, by the way, earns £310,000 a year as “Chief Creative Officer” (?) of BBC Vision Productions (no, I don’t have a clue), which may help explain why BBC programmes are so unrelentingly, poisonously left-wing. Then again, Pat Younge may be a staunch Conservative, bravely fighting the BBC’s socialist legions.

    As for Gary’s claim that “Labour left me tribeless” – well, that’s not strictly true. He belongs to that very large tribe of left-wing wankers who hate anyone who takes any pride in their country.
    Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 12:21 PM

  14. It was pretty unpleasant wading through those 17 articles and I've already forgotten a lot about them.

    One item keeps popping back into my head, though.

    What would you call the well-wishers of Osama bin Laden? It depends who you are, of course, the answer could be anything from "religious heroes" to "inhuman murderers". But only the Guardian, surely, would call them "anti-imperialists", please see item #11 above:

    The result of this fratricidal carnage is that al-Qaida has now lost what fatal attraction it once held for anti-imperialists.

    What are they talking about?
    Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 11:09 PM

  15. I think the Guardian is wrong about anti-Imperialism – it’s the oppression of women Al Qaida really want to put a stop to.
    Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 04:54 PM