Unpacking Leeds

Unpacking Leeds

Unpacking Leeds

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
July 13 2005 6:11 PM

Unpacking Leeds

Bloggers respond to the identification of the suspected suicide bombers who attacked London last week; they also debate the restructuring of the Department of Homeland Security and react to news that the pope disapproves of Harry Potter.

Unpacking Leeds: The British police identified some suspects in the attacks on London. At least three British-born suicide bombers with Pakistani roots, all of whom lived in the working-class city of Leeds, were named.

A few are skeptical that the police have found their men. "I do NOT believe for a SECOND than any man with an eight month old baby would commit suicide for any reason whatsoever. This story and these arrests are part of the false flag and some poor bastard has been framed for something he didn't do," asserts British blog Codshit's Ewar. But most are struggling to make sense of the fact that the suspects were all apparently well-adjusted and well-educated. On the groupblog Sepia Mutiny, which focuses on the South Asian diaspora, KXB points out that "Britain should have seen this coming when a British born lad named Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, born to an upper-class Pakistani immigrant family and accepted into the London School of Economics - instead made a name for himself by slicing the head off of Daniel Pearl, and broadcasting it on the web." Another poster, Vikram, likens the suspects' educated zealotry to that of Japanese kamikazes and notes, "Several of the 9/11 hijackers and planners (Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al) had college degrees, girl friends and 'worldly connections'. Didn't impede their cold blooded planning either. Same holds true here."

Advertisement

In an attempt to better understand the root causes of suicide bombing, other bloggers are turning to thisAmerican Conservative interview with author and University of Chicago professor Robert Pape, who has compiled a database of information about every suicide bombing between 1980 and early 2004. Pape denies that suicide bombings are closely connected to Islamic fundamentalism.  He says, "The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective": to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland." Self-described "citizen-soldier" and Pape-basher Fortunate Son asks, "If it is so obvious that is their goal, why would anyone put forth an argument that implicitly advocates giving them exactly what they are murdering by the hundreds to achieve?"

Read more about the suspected suicide bombers.

Homeland improvement: Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff has announced massive restructuring of his department. He emphasized combating bioterrorism and stressed the need for more security for mass transit systems. Like most bloggers, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin is skeptical: "Before he can persuade the public that this is just more pointless Titanic deck chair rearranging, Chertoff has an uphill battle convincing his own employees." Pointing to this article, security consultant W. David Stephenson writes, "Hard at this point to tell whether it's based on realistic need for reform or simply reflexive union-busting on the part of the Administration, but civil service workers in DHS and the Pentagon are already fighting back, even before Sec. Chertoff announces his reorganization plan later today." Outside the Beltway's conservative James Joyner states, "While all quite logical, the fact that these changes weren't part of the original design is astounding…It is as if the Defense Department suddenly decided that it should procure weapons and begin training in case of war."

ReadSlate blogger Bruce Reed on the changes at Homeland Security; read more blog posts.

Advertisement

Harry Potter and the Wrath of Ratzinger: The "culture, life, and family" Web site lifesite.net has posted two letters written in March 2003 to Gabriele Kuby, a German critic of the Harry Potter books, by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who was recently elected pope. "It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly," the pope wrote. 

Most bloggers are snorting. "I've also read in the newspaper the Pope has started his holidays today. He took 200 policemen to protect him, in case of a terrorist attack. From Harry Potter fans, I wonder?" writesSo Long, and Thanks for all the Fush&Chups' TheHorror, who blogs in English and Spanish. "I think it is the clear establishment of good and evil in fantasy that the Pope must be objecting to, because when you're the head of an organized religion that protects child abusers from prosecution, you want to muddy that line as much as you can," snipes Rob Clark, an IT professional blogging at Stonedog's Growl. "Anyone who actually reads the darn things know that religion and faith are never mentioned in the books, and the mythological elements are no more pervasive than in the books of CS Lewis or JRR Tolkein," notesWildhunt's pagan Jason Pitzl-Waters. He also points out that one of JK Rowling's spokesmen "is reminding the press that these are not Papal letters."

Read more about the pope vs. Potter.

Questions? Comments? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com