Feature

Are Britons still in denial?

The week's news at a glance.

Heathrow Terror Plot

The first reaction of many Britons to last week’s arrests in an alleged terrorist plot to bring down as many as 10 airplanes wasn’t fear, said the London Independent in an editorial. It was skepticism. The government has cried wolf about terrorism so often that it has destroyed our trust. “It has not helped that the story, and the backroom briefing, has shifted.” First we were told the arrests came now because the threat was so imminent, then that they were prompted by the arrest of a suspect in Pakistan. We were told that all suspects had been taken, then that some were still at large. The investigation “raised as many questions as it answered.” If the police knew of this plot for months, then why was the new airport screening process so chaotic? If the threat was so serious, why did Prime Minister Tony Blair remain on vacation in the Caribbean? “It may well be that the plot to blow nine aircraft out of the sky was as well advanced as has been suggested.” If so, then it’s the government’s fault that “so many people are not alarmed.”

Those who aren’t afraid are in denial, said Mary Ann Sieghart in the London Times. “These terrorists are not bogeymen summoned up by politicians to distract us from the scrapes that they get into, or to seduce us into giving them more draconian powers.” Remember, the United Kingdom’s anti-terror legislation came after 52 people were killed and some 700 injured in the London Underground bombings last year. The Muslim community, too, is being willfully blind. It still refuses to “face up to the fact that there are now worryingly high numbers of radicalized young Muslims, some of whom have murderous designs against their compatriots.”

Rod Liddle

London Sunday Times

Max Hastings

London Guardian

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