Tuesday, May 9, 2006

7/7: The Seat of the Scornful: Milan Rai and the writers who don’t read

by Kenyon Gibson:

On a fine Wednesday evening in April, 2006, a number of people are gathered at Friends House, North London.

There is a small crowd in one of the upstairs rooms for a book launch for '7/7: The London Bombings, Islam and the Iraq War' by Milan Rai, an activist opposed to the war.

His book is about 7/7, and happens to be out in rather record time, some nine months or less, if he in fact did start on that very day. He is joined by four other panellists, two of them authors, one of them a victim of 7/7 who has set herself the task of blogging about it ever since, and a fifth, who will chair the debate, Maya Evans, a vegan chef.

Evans and Rai were both arrested in 2005 for protesting without permission outside Parliament. Rai, in fact, is joining us the very day of his sentencing; he has been ordered to pay a fine and costs, which he has decided to refuse.

(So he can get some cheap publicity as a fake 'martyr' for his crappy book adds 'schmoo')

Rai’s mood quite possibly was not therefore the best. Before the meeting even began, he was ready to refuse to allow myself and possibly others to take part, because I had mentioned the blogging panellist, Rachel North, who, a few weeks back, had graced us with the pleasure of her company.

She appeared out of the blue at a meeting at which David Shayler, the MI5 whistleblower, was speaking; or, trying to speak, as she made a point of interrupting. Her belligerence staggered us then, and, not having been polite enough to give us her name when we introduced ourselves to her, we had no idea why she was so insistent on rebutting Shayler.

At one point, when it was pointed out that on 7/7 there had been ‘terror drills’ scheduled for that day at exactly the very stations at which the explosions occurred, she smugly told us we were wrong; basically, we were all fools and she, the mystery woman, knew the truth.

As we struggled with this ignorant attitude, someone named Oliver pulled out a silver mobile, pressed a button, and announced: “Listen.” He had a good recording of the original conversation that was broadcast that day by the BBC which ought to be enough to convince even the most stubborn of fools.

But no, mystery woman proceeded to tell us that Peter Power, the man on record who was in charge of conducting these terror drills, made it up; silly man, he just wanted attention for his firm! Incredulous looks passed around the room, and we tried to reason, but in vain. Power, we pointed out, was no morbid creature who would want this kind of negative attention. He was a man with a solid background who did not need to have his firm associated with bad luck.

Only after she left did we piece together the identity of the woman, or half of it, as she had at least condescended to tell us that her name was Rachel. The Rachel North.

Continued at schmoo as the evening heats up!

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