Day after - some thoughts

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Reclaiming the Flag?

After 7/7, I felt that one positive thing that has come from the bombings - if we can speak about a positive side to such a horrific event - is that the Union Jack seems in some way to have been reclaimed from the far right white supremacist 'racial nationalists' with whom it has been so strongly associated in the past decades.

I felt like the flag had become an inclusive symbol of togetherness.

After yesterday, though, I feel things will change. That feeling of inclusive - dare I say multicultural - togetherness seems to have given way to a more hysterical, paranoid, hateful sentiment. (A sentiment I share a little - I noticed the descent from 'not afraid' after 7/7 to 'scary' yesterday.) Not sure yet if the shooting of an Asian man and the bomb threat at East London are a symptom of this hysteria.

Muslim London

I haven't yet decided what if anything it means that many of the locations targeted are populated by many Muslims. Edgeware Road and Shepherd's Bush are places with big Arab populations. Aldgate and Shoreditch are on the edges of the Benagali East End, Galloway land. Is this bitter irony? The bombers' stupidity or indifference? A symptom of the banal, quotidian multiculture that characterises this great city?


Some articles that have caught my eye: Salman Rushdie on 'honour' rapes in Pakistan and India, Roger Hewitt on youth work and multiculturalism, Helen Rumbelow with a suprising kind of Marxist analysis in The Times, and uber-liberal Polly Toynbee with a great defence of Enlightenment values against theocracy of all stripes. Toynbee rightly takes Blair to task for appeasing communalism and the left:
the far left, forever thrilled by the whiff of cordite, has bizarrely decided to fellow-travel with primitive Islamic extremism as the best available anti-Americanism around. (Never mind their new friends' views on women, gays and democracy.)
I should also mention this article, which I haven't fully processed, by Naima Bouteldja. My first response is that if Yusuf al-Qaradawi really is "widely regarded as a moderate and one of the most respected scholars in the Muslim world", then moderate Islam and the Muslim world are bad things. I am more inclined to agree with her on Tariq Ramadan, though, who I have more respect for, but don't know enough about. (I think her comparison of Ramadan to Malcolm X and Fanon is wrong though. I think he might be more usefully compared to a certain stream of pluralist thought that includes the Bund, John Dewey, Randolph Bourne and Israel Zangwill, but that's another story.)

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