Wednesday, July 20, 2005

There's a face that we hide, 'til the nighttime appears

What a surprise: It didn't take long (despite a brief trip to the land of resolute defiance) for London Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone to return to form. Ken Livingstone yesterday blamed western policies for contributing to the spread of the extremist beliefs that inspired the London bombers. The mayor of London highlighted the West's role in the creation of al-Qa'eda by saying: "We created these people. We built them up. We funded them." His comments coincided with remarks from Muslim extremists that went much further, claiming that ministers were "the real terrorists" and that voters were to blame for the attacks because they returned Tony Blair to power. Mr Livingstone has condemned the London bombings in the strongest terms, and immediately after the attack he was widely praised for the way he spoke up on behalf of all Londoners. But yesterday he abandoned his consensual approach when he claimed that western policies in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq may have influenced the bombers. Mr Livingstone said: "This particular strand of extremism was funded by the West in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was just another businessman until he was recruited by the CIA. "I suspect the real problem was that we funded these people, as long as they were killing Russians. We gave no thought to the fact that when they stopped killing Russians they might start killing us." Mr Livingstone also defended Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the controversial cleric who visited London at his invitation last year and who had been scheduled to attend a conference in Manchester next month. He and Michael Moore would get along like a house on fire. (Rather, I should say, like a city on fire.) It's been less than two weeks, and already Livingstone is telling Britons that this is their fault. The bombers, the planners, the funders, the sympathizers? Meaningless, in his world; their innocence is guaranteed, apparently, by being mindless automatons incapable of self-control, liable to grab a sack of explosives and blow up a few dozen commuters at the slightest imagined offense. Moreover, it's the fault of Blair voters specifically; if only there'd been no war in Iraq, or Afghanistan, he imagines, there'd be no terrorism today. Gah. Britain is doomed, if this is the best the nation has to offer.

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