Almost all serious warships defend themselves with CIWS guns and missiles and also with chaff and flares. Tanks trundle around firing off smoke to confuse IR seekers. Aircraft also deploy chaff and flares and have done since at least Operation Gomorrah – the RAF’s complete destruction of Hamburg. It was codenamed “Window” at the time.
Guns and missiles target things. Chaff and flares do something else. They are in a sense the opposite of camouflage. Camouflage is about not being seen. Launched counter measures and some of the electronic types such as used by the Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR or the USN’s EF-18 Growler are about making your-self super-visible. Yes, the other side will see there is an armoured column but the smoke will obscure the individual vehicles. The radar reports when chaff is deployed and will result in ther othe guys seeing something wicked this way coming but individual aircraft – forget it!
And that is what I think Savile did. It is entirely imaginable that a seemingly perfectly normal man is a sexual predator of kids. He hides behind normality (camouflage) of I dunno, reading the Telegraph, having a wife and kids, a Ford Focus and a dull but respectable Job. He wears M&S clothes and is the sort of bloke you could walk past in the street without batting an eyelid. We all know such people. Some of us are such people. Very, very few of us are kiddie-fiddlers. That’s the point about camouflage. You know the credit sequence from “Dad’s Army”? They have foliage in their helmets. Now we all know most foliage doesn’t shoot back. That is how camouflage works.
The alternative of making yourself very big indeed works rather differently. I am sure many rapists and peadophiles go to extraordinary lengths to hide their preversions behind a veneer of normality verging on dullness. Jimmy Savile clearly didn’t. The bamboozle. It’s an alternative tactic. To put it in crude and approximate military terms. If you want to count the birds all out and all back to home plate for a big raid you can either make the enemy radar show nothing (stealth) or light-up their screens like a Christmas tree (EW aircraft, chaff, flares, whatever). The difference between the two is the stealth raid is invisible* and the alternative is very visible but amorphous and utterly confusing. It’s like this, “Major, we have something enormous coming in from the West”. “Sergeant, can you give me plot lines and numbers?” “Er.. sorry Sir, no. It’s everywhere!”
A completely white screen shows no information in the same way a completely black screen does.
Jimmy Saville was the white screen, the Christmas tree. I always thought his “confirmed batchelor” status and nothing coming out about his sex-life meant that like many celebs of his generation he was gay but didn’t want to come out. Also of course he was such a pantomime grotesque that the very idea of him having sex at all was enough for me to puke. He certainly wasn’t ever anyone’s Brad or Angelina. So he throws up the absurd smokescreen – the cigar chomping, more jewellery than Mr T, marathon runner who does lots of work for charidee utterly weirdo persona. And just like the armoured column with their smoke rockets or the aerial armada with it’s Window he gets away with what he is really up to. And in the same way such a stratagem can be very effective. The RAF did that over Hamburg in WWII and the IAF did much the same taking out that apparent nuke site in Syria a few years back. The opposite of camouflage is frequently very effective. Lots of people thought Jimmy Savile was hiding being gay behind his smokescreen so we didn’t look because we just assumed. This covered the fact he was abusing his charity work to rape spinally injured children. Here Savile was channeling another very bright and very evil man, Goebbels. You recall his dictum about lies? Whoppers are the way forward.
Well, sort of. It’s a bit cleverer than that. Your smokescreen makes people suspect the assumed little white lie so that is where they look so the great lie is not even looked for. And what is really clever is that if there is no little white lie anyway journalists and the like just give up. Especially when the real truth is from the bowels of Hell itself. If 1/10 of the accusations against Savile are true then he was a grotesque human being. We frequently use that adjective to denote extreme horribleness but it is worth reminding ourselves perhaps of the dictionary definition…
gro·tesque [groh-tesk] Show IPA
odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.
fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms, as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls, foliage, etc.
Savile was grotesque (common parlance) and hid behind grotesque (dictionary definition). It worked for five decades because the hideous truth was so obfuscated behind a screen of studied weirdness that it was almost unbelievable. Yes he played the loveable English eccentric card as well as the Goebbels one (how can anyone believe he is sexually abusing these kids he raises money for – you’re just saying it because he looks odd – and how dare you cast doubt on a National Treasure!)
It’s a strange cognitive dissonance that someone wily and evil can use to great effect. Consider Michael Jackson. I have no idea if he was a peadophile. Partly because I have no idea how his mind worked. Maybe he was and if so his smokescreen of weirdness was even more effective than Savile’s. I suspect not in Jackson’s case. I think he was just a genuinely very odd man made so by bizarre circumstances (note the difference of the influence of family between the Osmonds and the Jacksons). .
Consider also the case of Gordon “Prudence” Brown, the Iron Chancellor. He spent money like water but hid in clear sight because no grim, humourless son of the manse could spend money like a drunk sailor could they? Now that was camouflage and it worked for a time.
We all for good or ill hide (to an extent) hide behind creations, deceptions, personae we wittingly or unwittingly create (or at times have forced upon us). Some of these are camouflage and some are the opposite. The later often works better than the former. It is misdirection rather than hiding. Ask any accomplished stage magician about that one.
*I’m talking in broad terms for the analogy here.