Yesterday, an incendiary device went off in the London Underground. The media went wall-to-wall. ISIS took credit. And Trump tweeted some nonsense before any facts were known. Londoners, on the other hand, were singularly unimpressed.
Yes, 30 people were hurt, but most not seriously. And no one suffered any life-threatening injuries. But, as usual, terrorists will be delighted with the overreaction. Fox News, for one, reported that London was ‘gripped by fear’. Which would be news to Londoners.
As someone who grew up in London, I can safely say that the English are phlegmatic. Neither self-congratulatory nor prone to the sort of bedwetting Fox promotes in its viewers. But so many of us (I am an American) fall for the official ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric of politicians.
ISIS, and the like, know that they can’t win a shooting war with the US. But they can hope to disrupt American lives and get us to waste a whole lot of money. And waste money we have done — more than terrorists could have dreamed of.
After 9/11, attacking Afghanistan seemed reasonable — but terrorists struck the motherlode when we invaded Iraq. It wasn’t just the money we spent; It was that we also toppled the region’s strongest bulwark against terrorism. Iraq was the one Muslim country where terrorism had no foothold. And unlike Iran, no record of underwriting terrorist organizations.
At home, we now stand in ever longer security lines. While police departments — in towns no one has ever heard of — are showered with federal anti-terrorist largesse. And this despite how many Muslim terrorist attacks on American soil?
Which raises the question why can’t Americans be more like the British? Why can’t we “keep calm and carry on”? Why are we so scared? I don’t know. But generations of weak-kneed, pusillanimous politicians haven’t helped.
I am sure that there are cynical politicians using Orwellian language and imaginary enemies to keep their jobs. But I suspect that the majority of fear-mongering in Washington and state capitols is from dyed-in-the-wool Chicken Littles clinging to the ‘be afraid, very afraid’ bandwagon.
And icing that cake are the purveyors of commercial paranoia, the aforementioned Fox and its comrades in cowardice — i.e., the rest of the media.
And if that isn’t enough we can worry about a crazy man, with dodgy hair, and a finger on the nuclear trigger. Because if ISIS isn’t keeping its end up Kim Jong-un has emerged as a handy repository for all our night-terrors and amorphous, existential fears.