Jeremy Corbyn. (photo: The Duran)
Jeremy Corbyn's Honest Approach to Terrorism Gave Him the Edge - and the US Needs to Learn From Him
By Eoinn Higgins, New York Daily News
11 June 17
During the run up to Thursday's snap election in the United Kingdom, two terror attacks threatened to derail the narrative and throw the country into chaos.
On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 23 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Then, on June 3, three attackers killed eight and wounded 48 more in the heart of London.
As the smoke cleared in Manchester and the chaos cooled in London, there was a feeling about the UK that the governing Conservative Party would gain advantage from the attacks. Yet by the end of the night on June 8, it was clear that Labour had gained seats to the Conservatives' losses.
In one of the greatest own goals in modern electoral history, British Prime Minister Theresa May's snap election ended up reducing her power and revitalizing the flagging Labour Party. Labour, under the leadership of the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn, managed to cut the Conservative Party's membership down past the point of a majority — producing a hung Parliament and a greatly weakened May.
Cobyn's long history of adopting a less reactionary position toward political violence from the corners of the British Empire, particularly Northern Ireland, should have given May an advantage after the attack — at least according to conventional wisdom.
Yet Corbyn responded to the tragedies by taking a stand that a major western politician should have taken a long time ago: telling hard but necessary truths about the roots of terror in western foreign policy and how right wing domestic policies have only made the problem worse.
By speaking to the British public as if they were adults, Corbyn turned a horrific event from a traditional right-wing advantage to the basis for a left-wing critique of the status quo.
"An informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels
terrorism," Corbyn said on May 26, in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing.
The Labour leader told the British people that they had to come to terms with the fact that terrorism is the product of wars their government fights overseas — and he pointed to well-established documentation of that fact from his country's security services to back him up.
Further, Corbyn said, the austerity politics of cutting security services left the country more vulnerable to attack. When there's nobody to report a threat to and no police presence in neighborhoods, getting to know communities, the threat of terror slipping between the cracks is greater.
Corbyn went on the offensive again after the London Bridge attacks, implying on Sunday that at least some of the blame for the attack was on Tory shoulders for their austerity cuts to security services. One of the attackers in London was known to authorities but reporting from his peers that he was becoming radicalized was ignored.
What Corbyn did was to cut through the infantilization of the public that comes from demagoguery and spoke to the people directly and seriously about the true causes for terror in the west.
There's a place in U.S. politics for this kind of straight talk. Americans understand from the Snowden and Manning leaks that the government's behavior in the war on terror has had at least as many unintended consequences as successes.
War overseas and austerity at home lead to lost lives in concert arenas and cafes. The people know this, and it's time for politicians to respect that understanding and talk about this problem in a rational manner.
It should not be controversial to say that the current approach to attacks in the U.S. and the UK is counterproductive and will have the opposite effect from what is presumably intended: reducing such attacks.
In order to push back against this dangerous rhetoric and these disastrous policies, the left in the U.S. — and around the world — must take a page from Corbyn and refuse to defer to the authoritarian tendencies of the right when it comes to acts of terror. Rather than taking the lead from the right, the left must offer a different vision of how to confront these acts and the radicalization that births such violence.
We must reject the idea that the only way to protect the country from terror is to pursue policies that ensure the perpetuation of the ouroboros cycle of hatred and violence. On Thursday, Britain showed the world that there is a hunger for another way.
C 2015 Reader Supported News
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs