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    Places in the heart

    One final thought before I really do take off: the reaction of the world’s self-consciously-hip leftists is going to be interesting, in a nasty way. Preening leftists like New York, but it is…well, there’s no getting around it, is there? New York is American. Manhattan is cordoned off from the rest of the country by a few rather narrow rivers, but it’s surrounded by America, and even New York’s working class is mostly very patriotic.

    The left doesn’t have to have such misgivings about London, however, and its love for the place is, in my experience, unreserved. There are lots of little reasons it’s okay to love London more than New York *: London paid its dues by actually being bombed by the Germans. Contemporary UK policy is comfortingly collectivist, but England also has a history of pioneering democracy. England is close to the European Continent that we’re all supposed to bow down to, but being an island nation at the edge, it has its strain of funky non-Euro-conformism. Most lefty types I know think, even if they don’t say so outright, that London is the center of contemporary civilization (in the intellectual and social, if not the aesthetic or culinary, sense).

    The bombing of London is going to hit these people where they live, at least psychologically. If only to distract me from my rage at whoever planned this morning’s attacks, I look forward, in a mirthless sort of way, to seeing them pulled in 50 different directions by their emotions over the next few weeks.

    Once again, best wishes to the people of London for minimal death and damage.

    * I don’t want to give short shrift to the bombings in Bali and Madrid. Of course, they were appalling and they matter. But Bali is a faraway resort island, and Madrid is not a considered an iconic center of progressive thought and policy the way London is.

    4 Responses to “Places in the heart”

    1. Maria says:

      As a non-preening leftist who’s been to London, I take issue with your thoughts. London, historically, is “used” to this kind of thing. I love London, as well, and wish them well. But, I am not at all surprised that this occurred on the day after the announcement of the host city for the 2012 Olympics. If Paris would have won the Olympic site I bet the same thing would’ve been happening on their metro transit lines this morning rather than in London…

      The commentators on National Public Radio keep mentioning the G8 Summit as a connection. I believe that if the G8 Summit was their target for shake-up they would have hit Edinburgh, or Glasgow, for that matter.

      The Brits are a hardy bunch. They are no stranger to terrorism. I know they will handle all of this in a more dignified manner than my fellow Americans seem to be capable of…

      (Boy, that last sentence really revealed my bias).

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I know you’re not a preening leftist, Maria; and your point that London is used to terrorism is a good one. The Olympics connection strikes me as improbable this time, given how much coordination and preplanning must have been involved here. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

      And I’m not sure I want to hear the answer to this, but what was undignified about the response to 9/11? I’m very much a fan of English stiff-upper-lip-ism. I have the genes and temperament for it, and I think it’s often the best approach to hardship. But at a certain point, you have to be ready to strike back when struck.

    3. Michael says:

      And I’m not sure I want to hear the answer to this, but what was undignified about the response to 9/11?

      Yeah, I think I want to know the answer to that myself.

    4. Maria says:

      Oh, god, what have I done?!

      Oh, the joys of my impetuous nature…

      Anyway, first off, I do believe that Al Qaida (sp) is organized enough to have had alternate plans and operatives set up in Paris to strike their mass transit system.

      As for my unfortunate generalization of Americans…I just had the words of an ignorant co-worker ringing in my head from last year when Madrid was attacked, “Now they’ll know what it’s like (to be hit by terrorists).” As if any country in Europe doesn’t know what it’s like to deal with terrorism! Good god! (Non-capitalization of “god” is intentional). The uninformed, uneducated, historically stupid Americans are the ones that I see as undignified. Non-thinking Nationalism being justified as “patriotism,” etc.

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