23 July 2005

nothing to do with it

there aren't very many good things to say about this awful news from london. at dinner last night, we were listening to npr coverage of the shooting from which it seemed certain that this man was one of thursday's unsuccessful bombers, or was carrying a bomb, or was clearly one of the planners of these attacks.

one wonders how shoot-to-kill can possibly be justified, except perhaps in the case that this person is carrying a bomb. even then: is it wise to shoot at a torso covered in explosives?

but none of that speculation means much today, in the face of the news that this man was unconnected to the bombings; that his crime was being brown and overdressed; that in fact, having been chased by gun-wielding police officers, he tripped and fell, and one of those officers fired five shots into him at point-blank range, as he lay on the floor of a crowded subway car. what were they thinking? who did they think they were chasing?

it's awfully sad to see all the nasty post-9/11 dynamics of american politics playing out among the britons these days. the fear created by the attacks has caused folks' latent racism to come unmoored from their compassion and common sense. civil rights and liberties will just have to be derogated. suspicion of muslims (where by "muslims" we mean "people who are not white") will just have to be tolerated. police officers will just have to be armed and sent forth, guns a-blazing. maybe soon the english will get a constantly-elevated threat-o-meter and a UK PATRIOT act. maybe tony blair will join forces with george bush and...oh, wait. that's already happened.

leaving all that aside for the moment, i want to add without further explanation, because i cannot explain it, that i am very disturbed by the fact that we do not know this man's name.