Britain – still not reeling or cowering

In the US, any terror attack sends the media into a frenzy of fear mongering and as a result people here tend to be in a state of permanent fear. But as I have said many times before, Americans don’t seem to realize that people in other countries seem to be made of sterner stuff than those who live in the ‘home of the brave’ and take these awful acts in stride. It is not that they minimize the tragedies but that they don’t let themselves be paralyzed by them.

The British seem to be annoyed by US media that in the wake of the Manchester and London attacks reflexively reported that the country was ‘reeling’ from the attacks and that the people were ‘cowering’ in fear and that the nation was ‘under siege’. This report looks at the way they are responding with defiant humor to this portrayal, using among other things the fact that in the UK, the ‘reel’ is a folk dance common in Scotland and Ireland. One tweet said, “If London is reeling it means there must be an Irish dance festival in Trafalgar square again”. Under the hashtag #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling people have listed the things that really leave them reeling, such as toasters that are not big enough to toast the entire slice of bread. I can see why that would be really infuriating.

John Oliver also lets loose on the US media mindlessly applying the US fear script to other nations.

That’s the way to react to terror attacks, not the whimpering and whining that the US media wants to portray.


  1. cartomancer says

    Americans tend to forget that Britain (and Ireland) have been dealing with terrorist attacks for as long as most of us have been alive. IRA bombings were a very common occurrence in the 70s, 80s and 90s. We grew up with them. For those slightly older there was the Blitz during the Second World War. Americans have never had anything like that in living memory. If constant nightly bombing didn’t faze our grandparents and great grandparents then the odd one-off knife rampage sure as hell isn’t going to faze us.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    One of the worst things about the orange fuehrer is that he doesn’t seem to understand his own slogan. The “greatness” of America, such as it was, has always lain in its network of alliances and its friends and admirers around the world. You know, the moral leadership that he seems determined to squander more of every day.

    I say squander because he’s not even doing it for economic or political benefit. Insulting the mayor of London gains us as a country, and him individually, precisely zero benefit. It’s as if he’s playing his own little game where he gets points by getting enemies.

  3. timberwoof says

    Trump is, as usual, trolling. This morning NPR reported that a spokesman for the Lord Mayor of London says he “has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet”. This, too, the press-release-readers need to report.

  4. cartomancer says

    timberwoof, #3

    Sadiq Khan is actually just the Mayor of London. There is a Lord Mayor of London as well, but the two positions are very different. Lord Mayor of London is a medieval title and honour, held for terms of one year only, dating back to Henry II’s reforms in 1189. It is one of the oldest continuously held positions in the world. These days he is only really a spokesman for the financial sector in London though, more a ceremonial figurehead than anything else. The Mayor of London is much more recent and much more important. That post was created in 2000, is popularly elected, held for a term of four years, and is actually responsible for the strategic government of the city as one might expect of a mayor in the modern world.

  5. jrkrideau says

    I was thinking that this would be a good time to visit the UK, especially London. It should be fairly easy to get reservations and line-ups at various touristy sites should be almost non-existant.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    cartomancer @ # 1 -- LMFTFY:

    White Americans have never had anything like that in living memory.

  7. Richard Simons says

    Cartomancer @1
    “IRA bombings were a very common occurrence in the 70s, 80s and 90s.” with significant financial and moral support from Americans.

  8. alvin says

    @jrkrideau I hope you do so and enjoy as warm a welcome in my country as I’ve always enjoyed in yours. I suspect you’ll still find the lines however and in any case you wouldn’t get an authentic British experience without a dash of queuing…

  9. Milton says

    IRA bombings were a very common occurrence in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

    They’re not exactly unheard of in 2017 --

    OK, they’re “dissident” republicans, not the “official” PIRA; and they’re no longer active outside NI. In fact most of them are less motivated by politics than by mundane criminality (mainly continuing the local protection rackets that once helped finance the “struggle”). I’m not sure that makes a whole lot of difference to the communities they still terrorise though, however reduced the level of violence in those communities may be.

  10. jrkrideau says

    @ 8 alvin
    Thank you, I doubt I’ll be able to but it would be nice.
    Back to Bath for a few days and maybe get to see the railway museum in Leeds. Ah yes.

    I don’t remember ever queuing in England except maybe getting on the Tube or getting a pint of ale in a pub. Repressed memories? Oh wait, Victory!

  11. says

    A British friend of mine posted a map of all the bomb impact points during the blitz. I’m inclined to agree with him, the British are made of sterner stuff than ISIS is going to be able to scare in their wildest imaginings. The British also get downright huffy and unpleasant when threatened; I hope ISIS doesn’t bring out the vicious violence that lurks between the layers of studied irony and passive-aggression. They won’t know what hit them.

  12. Richard Simons says

    jrkrideau, the National Railway Museum is in York, not Leeds, and is well worth a visit. Unless you were thinking of Armley Mills Industrial Museum, which does have some railway locomotives.

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