The trouble with the ‘rage, injustice, grievance, violence inflicted on Muslims, marginalization’ approach is that it takes the action being explained too seriously, too politically, too as-if-rational-y, too as-if-adult-ly, and above all, as an instrument, a tool, a means, rather than as an end in itself, which is what it is. It is not a case of: bang: redress our grievances lest we do it again; it’s a case of: bang: hooray, ha ha, nyah nyah, take that, suffer, die, hooray. Period. The killing is the goal. 7/7 is not October 1917 or the Easter Rising, it’s Auschwitz and Rwanda and Srebrenica.

Along with a huge element of childish fun and games. It’s important not to overlook that. It’s necessary not to ignore the sheer and mere thrill element, the disaster movie element, the fire-crash porn element, the video game element, the macho element. Don’t think all that is not part of it, because it is. Everybody must know that, at some level (because it’s kind of obvious), but it doesn’t get mentioned much. Odd, that. It must be true. (It was true of many of the people – maybe all of them – who put together Little Boy and Fat Man, too. They were scared, they were overawed, they were worried, but damn, they were excited and thrilled too, and not just at the success of the physics, although that was part of it. They were thrilled about the great big bang and the fire. People like this stuff. It’s as well to remember that.) I’d be willing to bet (not that there is any booky I could place the bet with, because no way to confirm) that if there had been a way to achieve the same number of deaths instantaneously silently and painlessly – that way would have been rejected with scorn and derision. No – the bang and the smoke is part of the fun, and would not have been given up. The whole undertaking was an Excellent Adventure. I can do that, watch this, ooh let’s get rucksacks, ooh let’s do it at 8:50 just like 9/11, ooh people will see us on CCTV just like the guys at the airport on 9/11, ooh aren’t we cool.

This is Eichmann in Jerusalem stuff of course. The court, and people in general, wanted to see Eichmann as scary and grand and important, in proportion to what he wrought. But Arendt pointed out that he wasn’t. He just wasn’t. There is no proportion. There just isn’t. There is no mechanism that prevents terrible things happening for the most trivial of reasons, or wonderful valuable people from being casually killed by shallow petty unthinking people with nothing much in mind. It happens.

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