Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Terrists Win

April 17, 1984, was the first full day of my first visit to London. My pal and I were near St James Square, just wandering around, pretty jet-laggedy stupid. I was finding the noise really quite jarring, then it seemed to jump up several zillion decibels. Sirens.

We didn't know at the time but the Libyan Embassy Siege had begun a couple streets from where we were.

In minutes, it seemed, helicopters were hovering and loud-speakers were telling people to get off the rooftops.

And the sirens wailed.

My pal was excited and wanted to hang around. Me, I was thinking IRA, as was no doubt just about everyone. I said: 'I'd like to go home with all my limbs. Let's get out of here.'

Later, in our B&B, we learned what had happened and what would continue over our entire visit.

People talked about it, it was covered extensively on telly and in the newspapers, but it didn't stop anything. Brits were a bit more exercised about this event because a London bobby -- a female bobby -- had been killed, but otherwise, it was business as usual.

Dumbass tourists like us continued wandering around the city, visiting museums and churches and galleries. We took a Thames River boat trip, went to a West End play. We bought tourist crap and ate the amazingly awful food. (Meals usually went like this: 'Taste this.' 'What is it?' 'Who the hell knows? That's why I want you to taste it.')

In other words, we had a totally normal London visit, except for the siege bit going on in a corner of Belgravia.

I don't mean to glamourize the British stiff upper lip, but really. This past week, USians have given terrorists and trouble-makers in general a text-book lesson on how to paralyze a city.

And isn't it telling that the Boston suspect was found after the 'shelter in place' order was lifted and a resident went out into his backyard to have a smoke and noticed blood on the outside of his boat?

Acting normally is what nabbed the guy.

But. Whatever. Carry on.

BONUS: Thoughtful piece on USians going insane over terrorism but finding 'normal' gun violence perfectly okey-dokey.


Anonymous said...

I lived in the UK in the 80s, back when the IRA was still bombing and life went on as normal. People kept there eyes open for potential threat, but otherwise, there was no real change of behaviour that I recall. My boyfriend's dad was at risk from the IRA, but other than never taking trips back to Northern Ireland, they lived their lives the same as everyone else.

I am floored by how easily a population is willing to roll over and give up its rights and freedoms for the actions of so very few.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I don't mean to glamourize the British stiff upper lip, but really. This past week, USians have given terrorists and trouble-makers in general a text-book lesson on how to paralyze a city.

And in apparently far more boring news (at least as far as our media is concerned) our corporatists keep getting away with this.

fern hill said...

@ifthethunder. . . So true. So-called 'white collar crime' kills and maims and blights lives. And, at most, there's a small financial penalty. If they are ever caught.

While, as Anonymous says, we roll over and give up rights for a few nuts.

Something seriously not right with a society like this.

deBeauxOs said...

Apparently some rights in the US are *more rightful* than others: the right to purchase and own WEAPONS and FIREARMS - right on!

Legal rights with regard to incarceration, police custody, Miranda, lawyer's counsel, fair trial, civil liberties and so forth ... not so much.

Anonymous said...

Was surprised to see Bostonians go into voluntary full tilt "turtle" mode over one violent loser with a foreign name. So much for the "big, bad, Bruins" stereotyped by Don Cherry. Wondering if lots of people went along with the plan because of the carrot of "day off work" the school kids who were cool to get bussed to Ottawa to play fetus fetishist pawns in exchange for "day off boring school".

Must disagree with author of linked article though. News cycle ran 24/7 before the DC snipers were arrested. No lockdown, yes, but much anxiety. Per the last paragraph, the randomness "is" what causes the fear. That being said, I've been an oblivious tourist on many ocasions (you're going there? "they shoot/kidnap tourists don't you know?") and went, enjoyed, returned unscathed.


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