July 7, 2005


I had the satellite radio tuned to BBC all day today, and I heard a lot of interviews with persons on the street in London. They were being asked: do you think you'll be able to get home? how do today's attacks make you feel? and will you come in to work tomorrow? Person after person displayed exactly the same attitude: an almost cheerful faith in the ability to get home somehow, crisp but not emotive anger about the attacks, and an uncomplicated intention to come back to work tomorrow just as they would any other day. No sobbing or even mild whining. No despair whatsoever. Inspiring!

MORE: Tony Blair exemplifies this attitude:
"It is a very sad day for the British people but we will hold true to the British way of life.

"It is through terrorism that the people who have committed this terrible act express their values and it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours."

Well said.

STILL MORE: Slate gathers some London attitude, blogger-style. From the freely expressive, feisty Nosemonkey:
"I tell you what, if this is an 'Islamic' terrorist attack, they're doing a piss-poor job. The pubs are all packed out, people sipping their pints happily, all a tad pissed off, but basically fine with it," he noted at 2:05 p.m. "Nice one, Al Quaeda - you profess to be from a teetotal religion, and you've given the pub trade a massive mid-week boost. … Other than causing the grief of too many innocent people, these cunts will have achieved precisely fuck all. We shall not be moved."

And scroll down to the pictures at 23:20:
Nearly time for bed. All I ask is that we don't forget the others who have died today, from whom those bastard terrorists managed to distract our attention.


Kathleen B. said...

"It is through terrorism that the people who have committed this terrible act express their values and it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours."

well said indeed. very inspiring.

Brendan said...

I guess I'll take a contrarian view on all of this "stoicism." I know the Brits are famed for their stiff upper lip, but a lot of this strikes me as being a tad TOO cold and detached. Tens of your countrymen are brutally slaughtered, untold others are clinging to life in various hospitals, and your biggest priority is tossing back a few in a pub? Sorry, but it's waaaay too early to "move on" or get back to normal. Tonight is a night for mourning. Tonight is a night for empathy and reflection, not checking out the movie classifieds. To go about your life as if nothing
out of the ordinary has happened is a tad too cavalier for me. There's a
stiff upper lip, and then there's good old fashioned disrespect. I don't recall my neighbors or co-workers making merry on 9-11 or weeks therafter. Yes, life goes on, and that point will be made to the Islmofascists in good time, but the victims' families deserve more than a rush to normality.

Ann Althouse said...

Brendan: Why should we let those bastards dictate to us when to be reflective? Let's be reflective when we chose and let's defy them when we want. They would like to control our emotions. I respect the Brits' capacity to deny them that control.

lindsey said...

I've always gotten the idea that going out to the pub has a different social role for a Brit than for an American. They probably want to be with their loved ones and friends instead of hiding in their homes and being alone. At times like this, I think you need to be around other people. In a way, this reminds me almost of a wake.

Brendan said...

You see dissent, defiance, etc. I see apathy. So be it. Bravery is getting on a subway or bus tomorrow morning, not drinking in a pub with the lads. Have all the drinks you want, but don't try to pass it off as a "tribute" to the fallen. I'm not in the mood. I grant your point about control or "never letting them see you cry," but I don't see ANY reflection. I see lame excuses for getting drunk. For the love of God, Diana's accidental death brought them to tears but THIS doesn't? I'm at a loss.

Ann Althouse said...

Brendan: The distinction is obvious: this is a WAR. Diana died in a car accident. There was no enemy to stare down and defy.

Mom Underground said...

Watched BBC Newsnight this afternoon and they showed various newspapers and their headlines. I forget which one (doesn't matter, I suppose), but it was tabloid-size paper with a picture of the bombed double-decker and BASTARDS printed across the bottom as the only headline.

What pluck! And to-the-point, I thought.

Ann Althouse said...

Anne: Compare that to this.

Brendan said...

In my defense, I'm not the only one to have picked up on a weird "vibe":


ziemer said...

brendan, you are as wrong as humanly possible.

i stand with blair, and ann, and kathleen.

people who draw their sense of community from their churches and synagogues are right to go there to pray.

people who don't are right to go to the pub and express their sense of community there.

michael a litscher said...

Reminds me of my (Jewish) business partner's attitude on 9/11 (we were at a trade show in Chicago).

When I suggested that, just as you can be in the right place at the right time, you can also be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and this is the wrong time to be in Chicago, he retorted, "I'll be damned if I let those bastards move me one damned inch."

Brendan said...

Ziemer, HONOR your dead, then have a bit of fun. Is a brief respite too much to ask? You're not handing the terrorists any kind of victory by canceling a concert or two, or abstaining from a night on the town. Lord knows many an establishment shut its doors after JFK's slaying or 9-11 (Broadway, Major League Baseball, NFL, etc.) Did we "hand" Bin Laden a symbolic victory by canceling events, or did we simply do the sensible (and yes, sensitive) thing? I vote for the latter.

XWL said...

I think the confusion regarding whether or not a 'pub' is an appropriate location for commiseration has to do with how you define the term.

If you believe a pub is only a place to knock back a few pints of Guiness with the blokes while chatting up some birds, then it would absolutely be the worst place to be yesterday.

However if, like in England, for you pub is short for 'public house' then it is a community center that also serves beer, and a time like this is for community (and beer).

Other's have said so and brendan continues to defend his position so I guess a resigned whatever is due.

And while on the subject of public/private mourning of events, I still went to the L.A. Opera on 9/13/01 where the audience (mostly Russian) all stood and sang the star spangled banner before it began (not a their usual practice) and there wasn't an empty seat in the house.

Mourning an individual close to you should be private. Raging against an attack against the public should be done as angrily, loudly, and publicly as possible.

The dead are not honored by hushed tones and sobbing alone in the dark, the lives of those lost are best honored by the living doing just that, living.