Wednesday 22 September 2004 8.52am
It's funny you should mention this, as I was only discussing it with Ivanhoe recently. I have a theory (albeit a half-baked one) that due to the power of suggestion, we are all becoming more paranoid. I too remember the IRA bombing campaigns, and also remember how most people had a "**** the IRA" attitude, mostly supported by the popular press. I've also always believed that for terrorism to work, you have to agree to be terrorised. Do you remember how during the '70's and '80's, it would be reported that whenever a Hollywood star had refused to travel to Europe, in reaction to the latest act of terrorism, most people would sneer? I've noticed a complete shift in our reactions. I'm sure the reasons are many and complex, but I also believe that, as usual, we are being ill-served by the television and newspaper coverage of current affairs, which has also changed in the way it reports events. The language used is becoming more hysterical, images that editors would have shied away from using in the past, are all fair game for the front page now - I know that some people will say that they're just telling it like it is, but they leave an awful lot out: insight, political understanding, a good grasp of the facts, historical context, and a sense of proportion, all have often been abandoned in the pursuit of sales. Sadly, we go along with it, we keep buying into their simplistic vision of the world, and all the while our paranoia is cranked up.
By the way, we were just as paranoid in the past. True we were reluctant to be terrorised by the IRA, but do you remember how paranoid we were during the Cold War?
If you removed the "Islamic threat" tomorrow, I'd give it ten minutes before we promoted some new bogeyman (illegal immigrants, paedophiles etc) and it will all start again.
By the way, I'm not denying a threat, I just don't believe we're all going to be murdered in our beds tomorrow.