Saturday, August 12, 2006

Plotters are common criminals

The constellations"I look at Orion and I do not see the Hunter, his belt or his sword. I see a group of unrelated stars. Whether, however, we discern Great Bears, ploughs, crabs, crosses or only chaos, this kind of star-gazing is harmless because we cannot by imagining shapes create the things we have imagined. More dangerous are the constellation-makers among our presidents, prime ministers and newspaper leader writers: it does lie within their power to breathe life into the monsters they think they see. If they keep shouting that we face a clash of civilisations, a war of the worlds, they may drive bigger numbers on both sides into the arms of the smaller numbers who do want to rally volunteers for a battle.

Our enemies want a fight, so here’s a novel suggestion. Let’s not oblige. Let’s keep our tanks and helicopters and cluster bombs locked within our armouries; let’s keep listening and watching and arresting and bringing to court; let’s keep our liberties and accord them theirs; and let’s carry on treating these people for what they are: a big, bloody nuisance." —Matthew Parris

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