People seem very black-and-white in their thinking about race, religion and war these days. Which is not intended as a pun. The Government tells us we're all equal; civilised legislation tells us that racism is unacceptable; expressing racist views is a sackable offense in every workplace. And yet as soon as the boss goes away, or the Jamaican or the Pakistani or the Sri Lankan or the Kenyan go away, out come the same old jokes and stereotypes and prejudices that we used to see on tv in the bad old days; which the State congratulates itself we have driven out of modern life. It's been sent partially underground; but it's still there. I hear so much racism and cultural ignorance in everyday conversation it staggers me. I'm sure it wasn't like this 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, of course, we had a common enemy in Margaret Thatcher.
Since then, one hardly needs reminding, the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre has happened. As brutal and ugly and disgusting a single act as has been perpetrated anywhere in the world in living memory. There were the London bombings too. Radical Islam has set itself against our very way of life in the Western world, and the kind of society it appears to want to impose on us is as alien to the ordinary Westerner as it would be if it came from an unidentified planet at the furthest end of the Universe. There is also the unignorable fact that the footsoldiers of radical Islam are prepared to kill in any number necessary to set their God in place of yours, whether yours is the Christian God, or the God of Money. I think this is where the heightened racial tensions in the country come from. They are motivated by a sense of danger. By the apparent fanatacism of those opposed to us. We are an island race and a former Empire, with all that that history brings. Threaten us and we revert easily to type.
But we are, unless we become the mirror of our fundamentalist enemy, a democracy, and we should not stifle or stamp out debate in our urgency to shore ourselves up against attack. If I disagree with you and you listen to me with tolerance and understanding, we are resisting our enemy by not becoming him; we are showing our enemy that we stand defiant against him. We are leading the world in the manner that we believe is our birthright. And I don't believe that the War Against Terror is best fought by soldiers on the plains and in the mountains of Afghanistan. I think we can defeat those who wish to threaten our way of life without invading foreign countries and taking away the lives of our own, and their own, sons and daughters. That doesn't mean I am a supporter of terrorism. I abhor murder in the name of religion or politics. My criticism of the Government and the System I live under does not make me a Communist or an Islamist or an anything-ist. I am actually celebrating my democratic rights by expressing my views. I am proving that despite its numerous flaws, democracy is the best bad system we've got. I would rather live here, as much as I complain about my country, than in a country ruled by cruel Party bureaucrats or fundamentalist clerics, though it should probably not be necessary for me to make that clear.