Back in the 1950’s I imagine it was pretty difficult to have a sensible discussion about the prospects for democracy in Eastern Europe with those who claimed the Hungarian uprising of 1956 was a ‘fascist counter-revolution’.

One needs, of course, a certain amount of common ground, or at least an agreement on what reality is, for any discussion to have a chance of yielding something useful.

At the moment, there is an urgent need for a serious debate on how the legal systems of liberal democracies, such as Britain, deal with the threat from Islamist terrorist networks without eliminating fundamental civil rights. (Or at least a starting dicussion about if such a balance is really achievable.) Its not an easy debate to have but it is made even more difficult when there are people who persist in arguing that there is no real threat.

Do you think Al Qaeda threatens the way of life of the West?

Chandler: “Not at all, because it’s more of a fiction of the fears of the West”

I’ve raised this issue of denial before here but it screams out from Eric’s post above. If there is one way to ensure that the state is given little real scrutiny as it handles the delicate issue of balancing civil liberties with security needs, it is if those who claim to be defending liberties deny that there is a threat at all.