Sang-Froid in London

Sang-Froid in London

Sang-Froid in London

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
July 7 2005 7:03 PM

Sang-Froid in London

Bloggers from Britain and around the world react to the news of explosions on the London Underground and on a double-decker bus during the morning rush hour, killing at least 38 people and injuring 700.

The Guardian collected a "newsblog" of eyewitness reports. "There is also the underlying fear that this is not it - that later today or tomorrow or in weeks to come it will happen again," writes Liam Vaughan. "There is always that nagging fear as a Londoner and particularly as one that works in the financial centre of the capital, that you are in a dangerous place and that you are gambling with your life."

The attacks reminded some Brits of the of the IRA bombings of previous decades, but bloggers noted that a threat from outside the Isles is more disquieting. "I remember it as terrible, but it was 'homegrown terrible,' " suggested Colin Henderson, a Scot posting at 2036 AD. "This is a different story, and local Brit reactions will reflect the sense of anger at the perpetrators. … It will also refect an 'is that the best you can do' that is characteristic of Brits."

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Other bloggers render Henderson's * prediction accurate. Nosemonkey, a writer and editor, live-blogged his reactions at Europhobia. "I tell you what, if this is an 'Islamic' terrorist attack, they're doing a piss-poor job. The pubs are all packed out, people sipping their pints happily, all a tad pissed off, but basically fine with it," he noted at 2:05 p.m. "Nice one, Al Quaeda - you profess to be from a teetotal religion, and you've given the pub trade a massive mid-week boost. …Other than causing the grief of too many innocent people, these cunts will have achieved precisely fuck all. We shall not be moved."

Blogger Tim Worstall recalls two other occasions in London when conditions made getting to work very difficult. The first was a storm that downed power lines, resulting in deserted streets as people stayed home. The second was an IRA bombing: "There was no co-ordination to this, no instructions went out, but it appeared that people were crawling off their sick beds in order to be there at work the next day, thrusting their mewling and pewling infants into the arms of anyone at all so that they could be there," he writes. "Yes, we'll take an excuse for a day off, throw a sickie. But you threaten us, try to kill us? Kill and injure some of us? Fuck you, sunshine.We'll not be having that."

Many put the attacks in context with the wider war on terrorism, especially regarding Britain's alliance with America. "As we British stood 'shoulder to shoulder' with America during 9/11, I know that the vast majority of Americans will stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with us," comments K at The Jawa Report, a group blog. "The terrorists anger towards us, pales into insignificance with our determination to beat them. And we will.America, watch and witness the amazing courage, determination, calmness and controlled response of British people in the face of vicious terrorism."

British ex-pat Andrew Sullivan, a conservative, praises London Mayor Ken Livingstone for his measured response to the attacks. "Amen a million times. How dumb are these fascists to take on the Brits and the Americans? Sure, we fight with each other; but up against this kind of evil, our divisions are petty. … Maybe this will help build support for a war that is as unavoidable as it is unlosable. I don't mean we won't continue to differ over means and methods and tactics and strategy. We will. That's our strength. But right and left, we are in this together."

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Amit Varma, writing from Mumbai on India Uncut, calls for people to steel themselves against such threats. "The battle that al-Qaeda - I am assuming they are behind this attack - is waging against the world is more significant than any other terrorist movement in history, both in its scope and in its final objective. It must not be allowed to succeed. And other grievances that one has against the USA or Britain should not become a reason to gloat at such attacks, as I have seen happening in the past."

Others have criticized statements from MP George Galloway, in which he said that "tragically Londoners have now paid the price" for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Michael Weiss at Snarksmith offers a jab: "The fetid gas now being sublimated and about to be leaked out over the airwaves and fiberoptic cables in the coming hours, days and weeks as to "why" this miserable bombing took place (hey there, Mr. Galloway) -- such stuff will do nothing to shake those Europeans who understand that allowing Osama bin Laden to dictate foreign policy is the first step to allowing him to dictate domestic policy as well."

Some Americans avowed solidarity. "Britain, know this: We here in the USA have your back," declares Ryan Murphy, also at The Jawa Report. " … The bile rises in my throat at people who could even contemplate such attacks. They picked the wrong target. Despite the Galloways of the world, this is still the Britain of WInston Churchill and MArgret Thatcher."

Read more eyewitness reports and reactions at the Guardian, BBC, and Sky News. More blogger reaction to the bombings is here, and a roundup of U.K. blog posts can be found  here. Read Slate's coverage here.

Correction, July 8: Due to an editing error, Colin Henderson was referred to as "Harrison" on a subsequent reference. (Return to the corrected sentence.)