Tuesday, July 12, 2005

London

I know I haven't posted anything about it because current events have never really been my forte, but I did hear about the London bombings the morning they happened, and was completely shocked and saddened to hear about them, the more so in contrast with the happy announcements about the 2012 Olympics the day before. I know that was probably what the timing was supposed to accomplish, and it worked, and it's depressing to think that joyous occasions like that in the future will be slightly tainted by the fear of retribution from people who simply don't want us to be happy.

The interesting thing about these bombings, though, is that people throughout our country felt their effect, and yet we've lost no time in turning an analytical eye on what happened and what the reaction was etc. etc. There was no such dialogue (none that sounded rational, anyway) so soon after September 11th, and in the aftermath of two attacks, now, I've heard a few things that have given me pause.

The first is in how people reacted to this event. In London, public transit was shut down, but there were several stories on how people were attempting to simply carry on, walking to and from work or school instead, and getting up and doing it over again the next day. There were quotes from people who took comfort in the fact that their country had survived worse from WWII and IRA bombings. It was as if there was that sudden intake of breath from the shock of the event and then a slow exhalation, and then everything went on as it had.

And unlike what happened during the IRA bombings, our country reacted too with that same sharp intake of breath. And there are a few reasons for it: it's a major bombing in another Westernized country, one that we feel particularly close to. It was coordinated. It was unforeseen. And most of all, it could've been us. When I first heard the news, I felt a tinge of guilt. Not just because I was so sad that this had happened after a day of celebration, but because I felt they had drawn this attack because of their involvement with us. I don't follow the news closely enough (or at all, beyond what I read on Brendan's website--I'm exceptionally well-informed about Gulf Coast weather) to have sorted out what I do and don't know and what my position is, and so I take my rather vague cue from the occasional LA Times headline and Hollywood liberal conversation, and sort of think at the back of my mind that we almost deserve terrorist acts here because of the war in Iraq. (Which I disagree with upon further scrutiny, but such scrutiny doesn't always take place.)

I also ran across this editorial in the New York Times, which made me stop and think for a moment. Thomas Friedman writes that the Muslim world needs to take action in its own self-interest, or rather the interest of Muslims already living in Western societies (a vast minority: 23 million live in the EU, we'll assume the same for the U.S., and after rounding up to 50 million, that's still less than 4%). Either they need to do their own policing, or we'll do it for them, in the form of ostracizing them. While this is certainly a good plan from our perspective, I wonder if they will feel the same way. The Muslim world is hardly encouraging terrorism as it is, though I don't know if they could be said to be condoning it (I tend not to think so). Out of 1.3 billion people, no matter how strongly the Islamic culture discourages it, you're still going to get a few who disagree, and unfortunately, that's all it takes.

On a somewhat unrelated note: Oliver Stone is making a movie about September 11th. I know I wasn't as profoundly affected by 9/11 as some, and even I feel that this is offensive. I don't care who the director is (and there are plenty who feel Stone is a particularly bad choice), the scope of that day cannot be captured in a two-hour film starring Nicholas Cage and the attempt to do so cheapens it and that is unacceptable.

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