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Guardian: Low Level Street Crime On Par With Terrorism

From The Guardian:

See how the tentacles of terror reach out from the screen or the printed page. See how fear moves television ratings or sells newspaper copies. And see the slippery slopes where Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen live and breathe poison.

Long ago, when the real terror was nuclear obliteration rather than a suicidal zealot with a bomb, research showed editors just what was happening. Readers consumed large amounts of foreign news avidly because they saw cold war connections. This or that confrontation with the USSR could be another Cuban missile crisis. We might all – mum, dad, the kids – be ashes tomorrow. It was news as local as the street where you live because the seeming threat was in your living room every time you switched on the TV.

But then the Soviet Union collapsed. The supposed end of history. No more cold war, much less fear – and so far fewer readers of foreign news. Overseas news bureaus shut right across America and Europe. Front page coverage shrank. The news became local again, until 9/11 and the advent of a new foe: shadowy Islamic extremism.

Terrorism itself wasn’t new to Britain, of course. We’d had the IRA as a descant to the years of superpower confrontation. But it was basically area-specific, limited by localism. IRA bomb attacks sold extra papers if they hit Birmingham or London, when they wrecked Mrs Thatcher’s hotel or blew up Earl Mountbatten’s yacht. When they took place in Northern Ireland, the impact was less marked. Of course Lockerbie brought shock, awe and sorrow. Of course Carlos the Jackal had his moments of stardom. But terrorism was still a secondary menace.

That perception was changed by 9/11, but it didn’t end the localism. Just look at the last few months of news. Thirty British tourists massacred on a Tunisian beach: obviously a huge, horrifying story – but one that somehow faded with summer, perhaps because it was “over there”, in Sousse, where the victims had chosen to go. Some 224 passengers blasted out of the sky over Sinai: another big story, but they were Russians, weren’t they? Paris, post-Bataclan, is the game changer.

Read the rest at The Guardian  

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