Friday, July 08, 2005

Battered Britannia, Blackjack, Books and Obits

If I feel powerless over what fellow Americans do and think, you can triple that for my influence on Brits, so the following musings are somewhat below pointless. Still...

7/7/2005 (2+5=7) gives the numerical symmetry that organized terrorists seem to prefer these days. And adding all three sevens we get 21, the day the House of the Union Jack gets beaten by Blackjack. Parallelism all round. How auspicious.

After yesterday's bombings, commentators and Londoners themselves reminded us of their courage during WWII's Blitz and more lately during the IRA's campaign of terror bombing from 1970 on, when people began rationalizing random violence as an appropriate expression of political dissent. One Brit I know sniped yesterday that it was Bush's and Blair's Iraq policy of the last 3 years that had made them unsafe, despite everyone proudly citing survival of 60+ years of continuing assaults on British civilization. And as I watched the calmness and efficiency with which they began sweeping up the pieces, and admired their scrap in heading to the pubs and out to shop, an ugly worm of a thought crept into my head and sat there for hours. Later, I saw a British journalist say outsiders shouldn't mistake the demeanor for complacence, so I'll give it a minute or two and see what happens. But the ugly image occupying my mind was of a battered woman clinging to her abuser, a person become so twisted in her expectations that she's prouder of her strong chin than infuriated she's become a punching bag. That's just what I imagined. I don't claim to know if it's real.

Mark Steyn has long tied the current radicalization of Muslim communities in Europe not to recent aggressive action against Islamofascists, but to the 1990's general inaction on the Bosnian genocide of Muslims. While worth noting that the U.S. eventually applied the leverage that stopped the killing, action was very slow in coming. It was our and the rest of the world's dithering ignorance while Bosnia bled for years, Steyn says, which reconnected previously estranged and disaffected Muslims with their religion in its most extreme form. He also cites P.C. cowardice in facing head-on the known problem areas of hostile, unassimilated Muslims aided financially and otherwise by Saudi Wahabbists. If it's true, all the more reason to work the levers hard on Sudan to stop the killing in Darfur and lock our eyes on the Saudi money trail. I'm afraid in such cases I would choose to be a bit of a meddler. Tell Stalin my idea of other nations' sovereignty stops at mass murder, Mao.

UPDATE: Maybe my perception of the British reponse isn't all my imagination. Some Brit journalists are saying it, too. Here are Melanie Phillips and John Derbyshire. Not to mention foreign policy analyst Victor Davis Hanson who says not much will change from these events.

2) In news I find uplifting, here's the International Digital Children's Library, providing free online books with illustrations in 9 languages. Among the goals of this project, number one is " create a collection of more than 10,000 books in at least 100 languages that is freely available to children, teachers, librarians, parents, and scholars throughout the world via the Internet..." Despite the middle-class creds of many terrorists, I still believe that educated minds are less interested in busting heads. Education can create progress for both Africa and the Middle East, especially if we could get all the girls in school.

3) In a special obituary that I didn't want to overlook among the current fluxes, the prolific and gifted author born as Salvatore Lombino in 1926 has died. He became famous both as Evan Hunter and Ed McBain, writer of The Blackboard Jungle, screenwriter of Hitchcock's The Birds, and inventor of the police procedural. After 55 novels of the 87th Precinct alone (not to mention his other series, novels and screenplays), after 78 years and over 100 million copies, whatever your name is, may you Rock In Peace!

4) I was going to tell you to eat a sundae today, in honor and gratitude for the Blue Law workaround of druggist Edward Berner of Two Rivers, Wisconsin on this day in 1881. However, as I researched the details, I found sundae controversy. Did the real inventor work at Chester Platt's drugstore in Ithaca, New York? Or was it popularized in Evanston, Illinois? I ran out of steam to care. Just eat a sundae, darn it.

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