Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Preventing that which never was

A report in the Western Mail last week talked about the need for schools to educate children to prevent them becoming “radicalised” and turning to “terrorism”.  It’s not the first report of this nature to leave me feeling more than a little uneasy; the BBC carried a report a month or so ago in which the Home Office claim to have “deradicalised” 500 people.
The first concern that this raises in my mind is partly related to a sloppy use of language.  Words like radicalised and terrorist are starting to lose any meaning as they are applied in increasingly general fashion – what’s wrong, exactly, with holding radical views for instance?  There’s a danger that we start to treat different views as always being unacceptable views.
The second concern is around the idea that either the government, or the school, can identify those at risk of developing into “radicals” with sufficient accuracy to be able to target individuals or groups and bring them back onto the path of righteousness.  It’s hard to see how any such approach can avoid the danger of branding particular demographic groups as potential radicals or terrorists.
And how do the Home Office known that they have deradicalised anyone?  Putting 500 people who might or might not have become terrorists through a targeted programme gives a measurable outcome certainly; but the long-term effects of that program are surely open to question at the very least.  An ability to conceal their views and intentions is one of the key factors in the “success” (to misapply a word) of some terrorist activities.  I can’t believe that any techniques likely to have been used in the programme – or any program of which I can conceive in a democracy – would overcome that ability.
The intentions behind such programs and proposals are entirely worthy; we all want to think the government is doing all that it can to protect us, as well as protecting potential perpetrators from themselves and each other.
I can’t help feeling though that a line has been crossed when governments claim to be able to identify large numbers of potential terrorists before they’ve actually done anything; and the claim to have prevented people from becoming what they would probably never have become anyway is more than a little dubious.


G Horton-Jones said...

One mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist it all depends on your point of view and stregth of belief
My friend ex Welsh Guards had a son in the Welsh Guards in Northern Ireland to say he hated the IRA was an understatement until one day he took time to read a book The Shankhill Butchers this was a road to Damascus life changer
I had the privilege of being there when Wales beat England in Cardiff please count me as a Welsh terrorist along with many thousand others

You mean there's more??? said...

This whole ntion of turning people away from radicalism has a real resnonence for us in Wales. Some years ago we had our own radical wing.

I sat in a room with John Bernard Jenkins someone who the state, via the Western Mail had deradiclised me so I would never agree with him.

Trouble was I left thinking he spoke sense and the Western Mail was a rag.


maen_tramgwydd said...

I must admit that I have a real antipathy to the British state, together with all its trappings. I hasten to say that it's not ALL bad, though finding the good is getting increasingly difficult.

GH-J - I hope I'm not just an 'eighty or a ninety minute' patriot.

Essentially a radical is a person who wants to tackle evils or wrongs at their roots - to deal with the root causes. In that sense radicalism is a worthy objective. I wish that more people In Wales were radical in that sense, for there are many evils and wrongs in our society which need tackling. The increasing gap between rich and poor might be one example. It's a shame that the adjective has been linked with pejorative terms, like terrorism.

I hope to see Wales becoming radicalised to the extent that its people realise that the solution to its deep-seated problems lie in their own hands, and not in those of others. Only then can we hope to live in a fairer and more just society.

You mean there's more??? - I agree that the WM is a rag - with a rapidly declining circulation.

Spirit of BME said...

For my part I would give these terrorists a prime time slot on TV every night for five minutes for them to but their case.
If the state cannot answer the questions put and win their argument to preserve the “accepted norm”, then there are serious questions to ask.
The state tends to hide these people and is running scared, in case a broader debate ensues.