Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keith Hann Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keith Hann Columnist

Article excerpt

THE tragedy of flight MH17 seems to have done wonders in bringing Newcastle and Sunderland fans together, but precious little to knock any sense into the warring parties in Ukraine.

One might have thought that having nearly 300 entirely innocent passers-by rain down on your heads would be a lightbulb moment, calculated to make any sane person pause and reflect on exactly what they were hoping to achieve.

Instead it seems to be the occasion for obfuscation, procrastination, prevarication and downright lies about who did what when.

Compared to another recent air disaster, the one initial comfort to relatives of the victims seemed to be that at least they knew what had become of their loved ones, and would get their bodies back reasonably quickly.

So much for positive thinking.

Similarly in Gaza, attempts to arrange temporary ceasefires, let alone a permanent peace, founder on deeply-rooted communal hatred. Technology moves on relentlessly, giving half-trained muppets the capacity to blast airliners out of the sky. Yet human nature seems to be stuck forever in the Stone Age.

Only the other week we learned of new airport security restrictions inspired by intelligence reports of the development of ever more fiendish explosive devices, designed to evade existing surveillance equipment. Such 21st Century inventiveness seems wholly at odds with the mediaeval practices that the jihadists want to impose on their own communities and the rest of us, from stonings and amputations to the repudiation of sexual equality.

My mother was wont to shake her head as she watched the news on her tiny black and white TV, asking why people couldn't just get on together? It remains the single most important question facing us today.

Though it seems only fair to add that my parents, like most of their generation, were also the repository of a huge range of racial, national, religious, political and class prejudices - most of which they duly succeeded in passing on to me.

Some I rebelled against, as children should, and decades of political correctness have deterred me from expressing the remainder in public. …

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