Ken MacLeod's comments.
The title comes from two quotes:
“Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.”—Alasdair Gray.
“If these are the early days of a better nation, there must be hope, and a hope of peace is as good as any, and far better than a hollow hoarding greed or the dry lies of an aweless god.”—Graydon Saunders
Beslan must be the last straw for anyone and everyone who abhors terrorism and its consequences, including those who still might have felt even after 9/11, Madrid, the beheadings and hostage-takings that these acts were somehow justified or at least the consequences of injustice meted out against the terrorists and their 'cause' or the 'people' they 'represent'.
Beslan must be the last straw because I guess when it comes to children, it is easier to see the truth and go beyond constructed divisions of nationality, religion, occupation, gender or race and to stand up for human beings pure and simple.
I think that is why Beslan will be the watershed in the fight against Islamic terrorism. For one thing, it has made crystal clear that there can be no justification for it. Not even Russian state terrorism. Not even the occupation of Palestine; not even the war on Iraq or every war fought in this century and the last. None of it can justify the thirst, the fear, the pain, the terror, the trauma and the death of even one child in Beslan.
Secondly, it has shown that these justifications have nothing to do with defending just causes and people. Just like the war on Iraq cannot be justified by claiming it is 'bringing democracy and freedom' to the people there; so too Islamists cannot justify their barbarism by claiming it is for the 'liberation of Chechnya or Iraq' or some other seemingly worthy cause. Beslan has shown that both sides lie and deceive in order to justify their terrorisms. Both have shown they have absolutely no regard for human life. And that in fact they are antithetical to life itself.
People in the west have seen through USA-led state terrorism a lot quicker though. Look at the opposition against the war on Iraq. But Islamic terrorism has often been let off the hook because of post-colonial guilt, western citizens' false perceptions that they are accountable for the actions of 'their governments', and the whole notion of cultural relativism which allows bogus abuse-excuse justifications and doesn't hold the masked suicide bomber and hejab-wearing terrorist carrying a Koran up to same universal standards and norms of the 21st century.
Well I object!
And you out there - you decent human beings who are outraged by Beslan and will never ever be the same after seeing those pictures of mangled and terrorised children. You must object as well.
Each and every one of us must object every time they strike. Not only the people of Madrid, Beslan or New York. But all of us.
Next time, upon hearing of another terrorist atrocity, we must leave our workplaces, our homes, our shopping queues, our schools and universities and head for the main city square in every city. I will go to Trafalgar square next time. If you live in New York, go to Times Square; if you live in Berlin, go to Alexanderplatz; if you live in Venice, go to St. Marco Square. Go with banners or pieces of paper saying 'I object to terrorism!' If you don't have pieces of paper or placards, write these words on your hands and on your faces.
The USA, UK, Russian states that are themselves one pole of international terrorism in the world today cannot represent the people of the west or fight terrorism for them just as Islamic terrorism cannot represent or fight for the people of the Middle East and Chechnya.