Friday, July 08, 2005

LONDON MAY HAVE BEEN BURNING BUT IT WASN'T WITH FEAR

Opinion Journal
by TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Friday, July 8, 2005

"An assertion was made yesterday on the Web site of an al Qaeda affiliate claiming responsibility for the terrorist bombings in London: "Britain is now burning with fear."

This is not true; and it cannot ever be true, because it is alien to the British character to "burn." And even if ardor were not so damned un-British, "fear" would never make for kindling in Britannia. Some nations are too stoical, too suspicious of disarray, to panic or wilt in the face of hostility.

It really is considered unseemly to complain, or to feel sorry for oneself, among Britons: This aversion to self-pity is bad for the terrorists, who thrive on attention and the sowing of chaos. They won't get much satisfaction in Britain. Londoners will not retreat into their shells, and they are unlikely to do as the Spaniards did and draw out the tragedy with a lot of public recrimination, or to capitulate in any way.

The secret of British composure is that Britons really do feel proud of their civilization. On the whole, they apologize for very little, which is as it should be. Their message to terrorists is always likely to be straight and robust: "How dare you! I'm British!" "

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