RE: US Tragedy

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Sep 18 2001 - 13:38:33 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: US Tragedy
    Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 13:38:33 +0100
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            <I think things are changing here. Everyone hated the Catholics in
    > seventies and eighties, then in the ninities people were less sure; now
    > I think people (in Britain) dislike the Protestants more because they
    > seem more hard-nosed. I think given a choice now many of the British
    > would like to be rid of the lot of them (not that that's necessarily my
    > opinion). Most see the Orangemen as increasingly bizarre (bowler hats
    > and [to us] ancient history, especially the Boyne stuff), and they don't
    > do themselves any favours in the PR stakes, whereas Sinn Fein et al. are
    > quite media savvy now and let's face it, that is the battleground these
    > days.>
            I think I'd concur here. Personally I do feel Ireland belongs to
    the Irish, and we should stop occupying the North for the benefit of people
    who are no more British than those in the Republic. As an Englishman having
    lived the last 4 years or so in Scotland had seeing how distinct the Scots
    perceive themselves to be (and are) from the English, I see no way in which
    even the most "loyal" loyalist could have much affinity with mainland Brits.
    The dreadful truth is that once an Irish person is in many racist parts of
    England they are just a 'paddy' or a 'mick' whether nationalist, loyalist,
    southerner or northerner. Sometimes I'm amazed how Britain has ever been
    maintainted given the strong national identities and enmities that exist.

            <I think the Orangemen are panicking in part because the RUC is no
    > 'theirs' as such, whereas the Nationalists still have several flavours
    > of IRA going. The rest of us seem to have short memories about the bombs
    > and all that - I think in a bizarre way the pIRA now come across (to us)
    > as cuddly terorists compared to say, ETA or Bin Lid. Very British in a
    > (somewhat ironic) way - phoning to say "Excuse me, we were thinking of
    > blowing this up, would you mind moving". When the rIRA set off the bomb
    > at Omagh and (I think) cocked up the warning, people seemed more
    > outraged at the unprofessional/unsportsmanlike nature of it than at the
    > fact that they were bombing at all (that's an exaggeration but it's
    > almost true).>
            Again, I think you're absolutely right here. I don't think you're
    exaggerating- at least in terms of the wider response, if not for the
    immediate victims of Omagh. Indeed, the fact that the surreal relationship
    between the terror groups and the security services that exists (known
    code-words, that presumably have to be agreed somehow, and protocals for
    warnings etc.), demonstrates the point that I made a few posts ago, about
    the kind of social familiarity with terrorism that exists in Britain that
    hasn't really existed in the States.

            Reading the reports about Baseball matches played last night,
    compared to sports events in the UK, I see again the different national
    responses. In the UK, football matches around the country observed a
    minute's silence, a now standard practice observed for all sorts of things
    (Diana's death, natural disasters etc.). In the US I read that different
    places did different things, from the Mets lining up wearing NYPD and NYFD
    hats, to god bless america being played instead of take me out to the ball
    game and so on.

            It actually makes me feel quite strange thinking that we in the UK
    have become so routinised to terrorism that we have standard procedures and
    so on- from armed guards at airports (remember the average British police
    officer doesn't carry a firearm), to constant reminders at train and bus
    stations not to leave bags unattended.

            The closest I've ever been to a terror attack was the bomb that went
    off on the London night-bus by mistake a few years ago. I was a long way
    from it in Peckham, but the sound of the explosion woke me up and made me
    switch the TV on. The Canary Wharf bomb a bit before that occurred near
    where my wife had lived when she was a student. It was close enough that
    the windows probably got blown in. Fortunately, she'd moved by then. My
    cousin did a tour of duty in Northern Ireland, which he doesn't talk about
    (compared to his stories about the Gulf War for example).

            The trick is to balance reasonable caution against paranoia. It's
    not easy, and I expect many Americans will be nervous for a very long time.
    I know some of our exchange students are going to be late starting (we start
    our term this week, and are very busy), and I don't know how many will be
    prepared to risk it.


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