Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
That Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead on the tube is in itself a tragedy that demands the reappraisal of the procedures of armed policing. But this alone is not the source of my anger. Rather, it is the fact that, after de Menezes was killed, what can only be described as a pack of lies was told about him, his actions and those of the police involved. This pack of lies undermines democracy, as do all secrets and lies, and especially the secrets and lies of those in power, by inhibiting our ability to act as citizen politicians. To govern ourselves.
The shooting Jean Charles de Menezes was a crime against a person that has implications for all us. The lies that followed were crimes against us all.
Of course, the defenders of the police have been pushed into a difficult position. They can no longer defend the actions of the police, not during the shooting and certainly not after the shooting. So, rather than do this, to engage in an argument that they would surely lose, they have begun to spin the corpse of Jean Charles de Menezes.
We have, over the past few days, seen attacks on the credibility of the experienced campaigners who have joined Justice4Jean. These attacks ought to be seen as incompetent by anyone with a dash of intelligence. That they have not is a sign of how depoliticised we have been become, how we have been inculturated to see our status quo as unproblematically the natural state of affairs. How else could a Tory politician condemn the campaigners for Justice4Jean as ‘having an agenda’? Does he not have an agenda of his own? Is he some kind of political tabula rasa? Of course not, as such a state of mind could only be possessed by a person of terrible mental incapacity. Okay, he is a Tory politician, but still. Lenin’s Tomb
, an ever-improving blog, has some more details on his own nasty and narrow-minded agenda. As Meaders, the author of that post writes:
“Thank heavens for Brian Coleman. The last thing any Londoner would want is for those murdered by our brave defenders of the British way of life to be represented by competent
campaigners, pushing their sinister "extreme left-wing agenda" of holding the police to account.”
But the spins moves on. Now, complaining about the conduct of the police is, in itself, ‘a bad thing’, no matter what your ‘agenda’ might be. We had version one of this where the supernaturally stupid argument ran, ‘The police have made a monumental cock-up, at the very least. We accept that. But, in order to keep Britain safe, we must back these people 100%. Never mind that they are utterly incompetent, in the most generous explanation of events.’ For examples of this argument, see the defences of Ian Blair in any British paper.
Version two is much nastier. Version two involves dragging out relatives of people who were killed in the July 7th bombings to up the grief stakes. Ian Blair himself attempted to use this argument when he suggested that we should not get too upset about one death in fifty-three. He actually tried to slip this number up to fifty-seven, including the four bombers. Presumably he reasoned that the more deaths he could place on the other side of the scales from de Menezes, the more insignificant his death would seem. But now we have the relatives of the bomb victims arguing that asking for the police to be accountable undermines their ability to fight terror. Never mind that this is the way to a police state. Is anyone questioning their agenda? The agenda of the people that have put them in touch with journalists? The agenda of the journalists? You ought not get a free ticket simply as the result of personal tragedy, nor does your mind become a political tabula rasa. The concentration on the agendas of one side of this ‘argument’ (and argument that ought to be pretty straightforward; the police lied, or the police, who investigate allegations of crime to arrive at ‘truth’, are so incapable of telling truth from convenient falsehood that they ought to be sacked) betrays the agenda of a tremendous block of power.
Corrupted power, defending those who used their power to shoot an innocent man and then lie about it.