Tuesday, 12 July 2005

"London Calling" - The Clash, 1979

As an American living in Britain, I'm really embarrassed this morning.

The US military have apparently told American servicemen and servicewomen, and their families, to stay away from London after last Thursday's attacks. In fact, more specifically, they are supposed to be staying completely outside the M25 (also called the "London Orbital" -- one of the coolest road names ever). That means that they wouldn't even be able to go visit John at his home in Hertfordshire, since he's just inside the M25.

I don't recall the British military giving similar advice to their soldiers after 9-11. Am I wrong about that?

It makes us Americans look like cowards. And generally speaking, we're not. Having said that, though, we have often been proven to be hypocrites. Perhaps we don't sell out as often as the French seem to, but we've come close at various times during our country's history.

What's my personal opinion?

Well, to be honest, I'm pretty glad that I don't regularly work in London and use the Tube system all the time. I lived in Manhattan for over 7 years in the 80's/90's, and I was delighted when my job shifted from Lower Manhattan up to Midtown so that I didn't regularly suffer the punishment of the NY Subway system. So I'm not just dissing London's Underground. I just don't like the idea of spending too much time trapped underground ANYWHERE.

However, I am scheduled to go back into London to teach again in August. And I certainly won't refuse to go. My dear aunt from New Mexico is coming to see us on Saturday, for two weeks. It will be her first trip to the UK ever. If she wants to go into London on a sightseeing trip, I certainly wouldn't say no. I'll leave it up to her. But I would understand if she'd prefer to skip seeing Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, etc., this trip.

And do I wish that John didn't commute into Central London to work every day? Absolutely.

But we must not let terrorists run our lives either! I don't think any of us should take unnecessary risks. But neither should we let the possibility of a terrorist attack take over and run our day-to-day lives. We have absolutely no idea when and where the next strike could come. But I also could be hit by a bus in the Oxford city centre this afternoon -- or fall in the shower and fatally crack my head open
-- or get hit by lightning -- etc., etc., etc. I figure when my number's up, then it's up. And as my mother used to say so often, "If you're living right, you don't need to worry about it."

I can't blame people here in the UK for being upset and angered by this reaction from the US military. It makes us seem like overprotective wimps.

(Thanks, John, for the title suggestion today!)


Listening To: "Sweetwater" - Tres Chicas


At 12 July, 2005 11:46 , Anonymous Howard said...

Dear Janet, first of all may I as a Brit thank you and all your compatriots for the wonderful solidarity you have shown towards my countrymen.

But I don't think you have any cause at all for the embarrassment you admit to in your post. This business is very much a storm in a tea-cup.

It was a perfectly standard order to expatriate servicemen in countries under terrorist attack. Our own (UK) bases abroad have similar standing orders in place.

The order was given on Thursday. News reports are currently saying that the order is being 'reviewed' today. I wouldn't be surprised if the order is rescinded in the course of the day.

So, it's wrong I think, to take this as an example of America "bottling out", though anti-American influences in the UK will try to make that sort of capital out of it.



At 19 July, 2005 17:17 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anybody hungry?
Is anybody cold?


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