It has been difficult as a doctor watching the media machine work at trying to turn the public against us in the battle against the government. It has been so easy to see the lies, smears and misrepresentation of the argument in hand. It is easy to see because we know the truth. I am extremely proud of the way the medical profession has united to fight against this. Though Junior Doctors are the current target Consultants, Medical students and in fact all healthcare professionals have stood together. That unity and the general public faith in their doctors integrity are, I feel, the two main reasons the government are losing this fight. Or at least on the ropes and lashing out.
I cast my mind back to the recent Tube strikes however and sadly many of us in the medical profession stood on the side of the government in that argument. Many repeated the media portrayal of what the argument was about. Many repeated the media portrayal of how much tube drivers are paid and how easy their job is. Many allowed the government and the media to put a division between us and the tube drivers. So can we now expect tube drivers to support us? Can we expect them and the general public to see through the lies about our pay, how easy our job is, the lavish lives we lead on our pay?
In the background of the media and public fury about the tube strikes the Conservatives started to change the law via the Trade Union Bill. This is designed to make it much harder for workers to strike if they are unhappy about their pay, safety, hours, treatment or conditions. This removes some of the small amounts of power employees had and puts more power back into the hands of the employers.
The right to strike is something that had to be fought for in previous centuries. The workers rights we have today were gained from years of struggles where people actually lost their lives in strikes and pickets. The history of how workers rights were improved is not well covered in the curriculum for various reasons. It should be logical though that employers do not simply choose to pay more, improve safety or cut workers hours out of their own pocket. They had to be forced to do so.
The gains workers made are gradually being eroded with changes such as the trade union bill. These are issues we as workers and employees have to stand united on. Whether we are doctors, tube drivers, teachers, nurses or whatever job we work in we should recognise we are on the same side. We should stand together in opposition to the erosion of these rights. So whether it is a tube strike, Sportsdirect workers wanting minimum wage or the Nurses fight for their bursaries we should be supportive.
The logical idea goes that ISIS attacked Paris, ISIS is the threat to our safety and therefore we must bomb ISIS. Bombing ISIS is then going to ensure our national security by getting rid of the threat. I am sure if you stop for a second and think this through at some point this seemingly logical idea falls down. For me it fails at every step to be true and I stand against us joining the bombing in Syria.
I am not convinced ISIS attacked Paris. This is not a conspiracy theory. I am not suggesting it was Israel or the Freemasons who done it. Obviously ISIS played some part but I look at the attackers that perpetrated the Paris attacks. The individuals who actually pulled the triggers and detonated the bombs. I may not have access to all the information but from what I can gather at most two of the eleven people involved had ever set foot in Syria. Almost across the board those attackers were poor, petty criminals, aged 18-30, second-generation immigrants living in deprived areas of France and Belgium. If we look at the perpetrators of every major terrorist attack in Britain and France since 9/11 you will find these characteristics to be present. Charlie Hebdo, 7/7, 21/7 and Lee Rigby’s murder. Those characteristics are as constant as the religion of the perpetrators yet only one characteristic is ever mentioned in the media as the source of the problem.
Now ISIS may have been in communication to help to plan these attacks. If ISIS called you tomorrow and asked you to strap a bomb to your waist and kill innocent people would you do it? There has to be something more to this. The something more is not their religion as I have discussed before. Blaming Islam is easy for the media and the west as it prevents them from having to address what I see as the true issues underlying radicalisation. That requires more detailed analysis but the simple point is the attackers came from within Europe so how will bombing Syria stop that? Are ISIS a threat to our safety or is it poverty, disenfranchisement of youth, hopelessness and the persecution of immigrants we should be targeting.
Will bombing ISIS remove the threat? Ok. A Pro-lifer just committed a terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood centre in the USA. His religion is not being reported nor is it being called a terrorist attack. I’ll leave you to ponder the reasons for that. I could imagine he may be Christian or Catholic. Now would bombing the Vatican remove this threat? The answer is obviously not. You cannot bomb the ideology.
In fact in regards to this particular ideology we know that it grows out of the collateral damage of western bombing campaigns in the Middle East. We know that these campaigns strengthen the process of radicalisation. ISIS are terrorising more innocent Iraqis and Syrians than they are westerners and when we drop bombs we do not discriminate who they hit. How many innocents must die to avenge the innocent deaths in Paris?
Following the shock of the atrocities in Paris we feel as though we must do something. We must be cautious against making rash decisions while our judgment is clouded by this very recent tragedy. The last time we allowed our government to rush through a decision like this we turned Al-Qaeda into ISIS. We must follow the principle that we first do no harm. I stand against the UK joining the bombing of Syria.
Just wanna fall down and cry
And that’s despite
Me seeing through the night
I see all the way
To a better day
With the sunshine
Still sometimes I
Just wanna cry
When it comes to problems
This crazy world has many of them
But hope is given
With the possibility we could solve ‘em
But there is one condition
Which is relentless in its abundance
When young children feel unloved
When a boy learns to be a man
From books and movies
Cause his father is nowhere to be found
And mother has a limit to her capabilities
The world’s worst problem
Without a doubt
Is the world’s worst father
He’s nowhere to be found
The events in Paris are truly heartbreaking for all of us. It is clear from the response I see that this tragedy has deeply effected so many of us. It is so hard to see so many innocent people killed or injured and our thoughts can only be with those people and their families who must be in turmoil right now. I can only think back to the fear that was felt through London after the tube bombings to imagine what Paris must feel like today.
What further saddens me is that the response to this act of terrorism seems to take on none of the lessons we should have learnt from recent history.
I see Hollande has referred to this as an act of war. This was not an act of war it was an act of terrorism. In order for it to become a war it must become an armed conflict between France and ISIS. It appears, based upon the emerging rhetoric amongst Western leaders, that we are not too far away from another ‘war on terror’. The last war on terror is the one responsible for the rise of ISIS and their growth into the vacuum that war created in the middle east. For me a real war on terrorism would be a war on poverty, ignorance, poor education, inequality, lack of justice and discrimination.
I see people blaming the refugees for the act of terror. Firstly as stated elsewhere the refugees are in fact fleeing the people responsible for the act of terrorism. If we choose to label all the refugees as terrorists well there are 3 MILLION refugees from Syria alone and there were 8 attackers. It seems a little unfair to tarnish 2,999,992 people due to the crimes of 8 people. Even more so since as far as I am aware not one of the attackers has been shown to be a refugee!
I see some people are blaming ‘All of the Muslims’ and using the events as a reason to unveil Islamaphobic ideas. Firstly simple maths shows this to be completely untrue. There are 1.2 BILLION muslims in the world and once again there were 8 attackers. In fact if you combine all of the members of Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda it would number no more than 50,000 ‘Muslims’. That is 0.0042% of all muslims. Quite an unfair proportion to deem representative.
I see the actress Ruby Rose is being criticised for daring to combine her sympathy for Paris with that of Lebanon. In Lebanon 50 people died and 250 were injured in another attack by ISIS. Many of those people would have been Muslim which exposes another flaw in the ‘All of the Muslims’ idea. You can only ask yourself why there is such a vast difference in the media coverage for those attacks and the ones in Paris. That difference is indictment enough however it is then more troubling that some consider it wrong to express sympathy for those 50 people alongside the 128 Parisian victims.
I see Islam being regarded as a religion of terror and violence while Christianity is one of peace, love and harmony. I can give an extensive history lesson on the recent and past episodes of terror pursued in the name of Christianity, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and even Buddhism if you wish. This idea that islam is a religion of terror is then being used to push the idea that ‘they’ cannot live with ‘us’. Anyone who feels this way should realise that their ideas are essentially identical to those of ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and indeed Hitler/Nazi Germany. That should really give you some food for thought.
It is interesting to see the power of language particularly in the media and how they present stories. Take for example the ‘million mask march’ that took place on Thursday. I read a report on sky news which focussed entirely on the troubles within the protest. It described in detail the injured police, the number of people arrested, the horse that bolted and the police car that was set on fire. There was absolutely no mention of the reasons behind the protest and the number of people attending peaceful or otherwise.
In another report on the same protest on the BBC chose to focus entirely on the fact it will become more difficult for the police to respond to protests like this when financial cuts enforced by the government come into full force. The plight of the police force and their suffering under austerity measures is something I am sensitive to but it was not the major story here.
The fact that a significant number of people are dissatisfied with the current regime of capitalism and neoliberalism is the major story. The media have manage to present this story in a way that removes all the power from those protesting. Some people may not feel much affinity to an anticapitalist march. However you should bear the media representation of this story in mind when reading reports on subjects that do trouble you.
“Police car torched in violent protest”
“Thousands gather in anti-capitalism March”
Consider the mental imagery and emotions each evoke. Only one type of headline was used this week.
Nobody needs to know
When my life is filled with sorrow
Tonight the tears may flow
But I wipe them away tomorrow
And nobody can tell from my smiling face
That my heart’s in hell though I try and escape
I may be stuck, fucked up but I don’t give a damn
So I shut the fuck up and try to be a man
I have a plan to make it great
Fate will take me to better place
I await that day but not with patience
But with haste to make it, it’s my dream I’m chasing
Facing failure I find the bullet and bite it
Let me tell ya sympathy is unrequited
I fight it cause nobody needs to know
Tears water my dreams so the seeds can grow