I woke up yesterday morning to the breaking news that the terrorists struck in London. It was a coordinated attack, the kind that we've come to expect from groups like Al Qaida.
Now the one thing that I noticed about this attack that I don't know if other people have picked up is how the people in London responded. On 9/11, Americans all across the country panicked. Businesses closed up, people went home... In London yesterday, there was no mass evacuation. Businesses didn't close up. People didn't panic. When it was time to go home, they hit the highway instead of the Underground and walked. Walked, mind you, not run.
There are, of course, a few differences between Brits and Yanks. Most of us Yanks have become long-distance commuters... with myself as no exception until just a few months ago. We think nothing about living thirty or forty miles away. It would take us HOURS to get home if we had to hoof it.
But the biggest difference is that we Americans aren't used to terrorism! We've always thought it's something that happens "over there", not just down the street. Cripes, we even have a hard time recognizing acts of terrorism when they happen! (Here's a hint: women's clinics and adult video stores do not just spontaneously break out in flames.)
On the other hand, the Brits know all about acts of terrorism. They've had to deal with the Irish Republican Army and all of its factions for generations. I'm sure some commuters were even mumbling to themsevles "bloody IRA!"
Plus the British have a much higher concentration of Muslims than here in America. They've had to deal with the fact that not all Muslims are hardcore bomb-making terrorists, or even supporters of terrorists. Most Muslims are hard-working people who are just struggling to get through this horror show called life, just like everyone else. The problem, then, are the extremists who see nothing but blood and glory... no different than the Christian terrorists. (You remember Eric Robert Rudolph, right?)
Most Americans only have one kind of experience with Muslims... and that's what they see on TV... "over there". They have a hard enough time trying to accept the fact that there COULD be people who aren't Christians! Then they go to their Christian churches and have their Christian priest or reverend talk about how "God's grace" somehow "protects them" from the evils of the world and that somehow makes us "better" than the rest of the world. And it's precisely that kind of delusion that caught us unprepared for 9/11.
Prime Minister Tony Blair earned points for leaving Scotland and the G8 Summit to go to London to see what was going on, and then he went back to the G8 after promising that the terrorists will not win. Well it's a little hard for the terrorists to win when they can't rile the people up like they can in America. I suppose they can blame the IRA for that.