Via BoingBoing: A group of Americans, feeling sentimental about London in the aftermath of the bombings, started a LiveJournal group called London Hurts, only to be invaded by bonafide Londoners who flooded the place with their own sarcasm. So the image postings went from this:
I’ve never even been to London, myself, but I appreciate the backlash nonetheless. I found it fairly horrifying to watch New York be claimed by the rest of the U.S. after the September 11th attacks. The sentiment seemed well-intended but inappropriately intimate, like if somebody you barely know asks too many questions at your grandfather’s funeral. And most people who moved to New York from elsewhere in America moved there for a reason, after all.
The “We’re all New Yorkers now” sentiment wouldn’t have been so grating if the Americans didn’t then go on to act typically American. After the memorial candles went out, we Americans bombed Iraqi civilians because we thought they were members of Al Queda, ignored torture of foreign prisoners because somebody has to think of the children, and then re-elected an incurious President because his opponent seemed too French. Hey, if you’ve never been out of the country and the only news you consume is your local TV news reporting on the location of white women, you’re not a New Yorker.
So considering where the sympathy’s coming from, Londoners are probably right to be suspect. Take Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, who on the day of the bombings said “I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world’s advantage, for people to experience something like this together …” Nothing bolsters popular support for a misguided foreign policy like its abject failure, right?
The thing about Americans is, we really mean well, but we’re astoundingly simple-minded about the complexity of the world. We imagine ourselves to be like Star Trek’s Federation, but just as often end up acting like Godzilla. And some of our concern is just for Londoners as an abstraction, not actually as people living different lives in different places who might actually have different opinions. If London were to take a page from Madrid, and decide that there were better ways to fight terror than by indiscriminately killing brown people in another country, how much would the Americans feel for the London victims then? Back before the bombs started dropping in Iraq, a quarter-million New Yorkers took to the streets against it. I didn’t hear any pro-war hysterical Americans claiming to be New Yorkers then.