Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The resonance of Omar Khayam

Interesting times, or are they? Looking back in my mind to my blazered and tied, hopelessly dazed and out of it school days, I remember feeling that loons got a free pass with the press; that, for instance during the Rushdie crisis, only those who were innately culturally distinctive ever stood for anything and were allowed to stand for something.

We've pushed on since those times however, and now the free pass does not come without the potential for 'afters'. Omar Khayam is back in jail. One is tempted to say 'where he belongs' and that would be right, except that his is the criminal lifestyle, and that shouldn't exist at all. There should be choices in life whether to be criminal and face the consequences of meaningful restictions on one's lifestyle, or 'straight' and begin to reap some benefits. For Omar Khayam the consequences will be very limited indeed.

What does he do following 3 years imprisonment over drugs trafficking? Straps on a fake (or should that be 'empty'?) bomb belt and goes looking for trouble at a London demo against western free speech. His only prospect the continuation of his fantasist lifestyle paid for by the taxpayer. No thoughts induced in Omar Khayam by his incarceration that discouraged him this time around.

In a way he's a lot weirder than the loons used to be: the absurd posturing against the backdrop of already being a serious offender was not the profile of the muslims who protested Rushdie. When we talk of protests being healthy, we usually mean they show a stake in society that the protester cares about. Not many anti-Rushdie men felt like that, but maybe a few did, however misguidedly. But Khayam is just typical of how people with voices today are those who don't have a stake in society- through their own fantasy rather than through deprivation. These are people who get benefits for free, which if they were taken away might actually present them with some serious decision-making process. Most of the London mob were simply idiots (but often not unintelligent ones); and those who weren't were extremely dangerous characters. The police can't tell the difference (and really there isn't one- flip-flopping between idiocy and criminality in the ether of extremism- to have arrested the lot would have been salutory and defensible) and so are paralysed, then fixated on what they think the press or public notice, which in this case is a black plastic paraphenalia which looks like it could be used to carry water but is associated with carrying bombs. I really felt for the officers forced to stand there like dummies while the protesters made threats against the society the police are sworn in to uphold. Of course some of them felt no doubt that they were doing their duty- but most must have had doubts at some level.

Although Khayam is weird he's almost certainly not an outcast; I think he probably feels right at home in the niche position of being a loyal Muslim feeding off the stupid dhimmi system, dabbling in western-specific types of criminality to make life more rewarding. He doesn't have himself under control but then how many young men do, really? I've no doubt many muslims, especially young ones, would respect him for his bravura- and it's natural that that's so. He demonstrates a balanced role surfing waves between worlds that only looks absurd to an outdated bank of perceptions based upon fading assumptions. He has a poet's name and his symbolism is nonchalant. And he pisses me off something chronic.

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