Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Haymakers Riot

Billmon says:

There will be plenty of time later to argue whether London does or does not demonstrate the failure of the flypaper strategy, whether the Rovians did or did not deliberately blew the cover on a British counterterrorism operation, and whether the right-wing media is or is not milking today's attack for political gain.

But right now I gotta agree with Kevin Drum: Just for today -- or what's left of it -- can't we drop the politics and the armchair quarterbacking and treat this like the terrible human tragedy that is? Just this once?

I mean, I know that's too much to ask of the conservatives, but aren't we supposed to be better than that?

Yes, we are; and I agree with most of the rest of his complaint. I won't talk about policy or politicians, though I appreciate Digby's point to the contrary, but I have to talk about the media's exploitation of the London attacks.

I didn't learn of the attacks until very late in the day, but even so, when I turned on CNN and started to read commentary in the blogosphere, after the shock had worn off I recognised the nastiest sort of cynicism and spin-doctoring -- also, typical stupidity and fear-mongering. So very many trying to make political hay out of the Londoners' misery.

Lou Dobbs wasted no time in tying the attacks to his anti-immigration fetish. Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer and Dobbs all repeatedly expressing shock, shock that the G8 summit's first priority was the poverty issue and not international terrorism! Fatuous references were made in various reports about the British stiff upper lip. Thankfully, a precious few reporters managed to insert a little context into the coverage with remarks very much like Digby's list: London has long been a target of military power as well as terrorist activity. Naturally, their proffered context was soundly ignored by the talking heads.

Grr. The stiff upper lip shit bothers me. It was as if these American media nitwits were appalled that people all over England didn't rise to some unstated standard of properly hysterical reaction: thus, the Londoners' relatively calmer reaction was attributed not to the lack of a fear-mongering press, or to the knowledge and memory of the multitude of previous attacks, but to some fucking inscrutable racial/cultural trait by which Brits reflexively adopt a stony resolve. By golly, that Churchill stuff must be hard-wired into them! Well, no, CNN, not really.

While all that was bad enough in a vague way, the blogs were worse, and specific about it.

Roy catches Jonah Goldberg openly musing on "useful" outcomes, then, in noting that Instayokel was riding the hayrake hard, Roy makes a general observation that strikes me as exceedingly well-put:

I imagine some readers may find it offensive that I am expressing my opinions on even so ancillary an aspect of these bombings as their press coverage without resorting to the seemingly requisite clenched teeth and offers of prayer. My feelings for the horrible deaths of several people I do not personally know are probably about the same as yours. Every man's death diminishes me, whether or not it is on the news, but I try not to intrude upon the funerals of strangers.

For my own part, I am more offended at the cunning use of public tragedy for propaganda purposes. For example, the Perfesser's jape at Ken Livingstone's response to the attacks on his City -- that "they've got even Ken Livingstone sounding Churchillian" -- seems to me appallingly cynical. Red Ken, bless him, is simply being Livingstonian. To talk about his call for solidarity as if it were some sort of deviation from the norm makes no sense, unless your business is to interpret basic human behaviors and emotions in political terms.

TBOGG reads the LGFer's response so we don't have to. But one could have guessed it anyway: yes, they call for genocide.

Tacitus, for my money the most pompous gasbag in the whole blogosphere, uses the occasion as an excuse to slag Spain.

John Derbyshire says the word. "Appeasers". Then -- well, I'd better quote it:

If it's solely up to Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone, and the rest of the Brits (I'll make a few exceptions, but they are not very important), Osama bin Laden will be riding around in a chauffered limousine ten years from now, and having tea with the Queen.

Brian Kilmeade of Fox News was a bit more explicit than the CNN hacks:

First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.

In Brit Hume, we see the cynical version of the heart of darkness:

I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin and Debbie Schlussel -- ah, fuck it. Just read it.