Keep Calm and Carry On

In the abstract, “carry on” seems good advice, but it depends greatly upon context.

Yesterday at the Woolwich attack, the murderers hovered over their victim for 20 minutes before the police arrived. They allowed women near the body, but no men. For 20 minutes, no one challenged them, even while they held their weapons in hands dyed with blood, a vivid demonstration of the phrase “caught red-handed.” (It’s an old phrase that sounds Biblical or Shakespearian but is Scottish, a reference to catching someone in the act of murder or poaching, before he can wash the blood off of his hands.)

For 20 minutes, everyone stood around, taking pictures of the villains, as requested. For 20 minutes the brave, some unarmed women, knelt over the fallen. The murderers could have sliced them up at any moment. Yet, as my husband pointed out to me this morning, he hadn’t seen any UK reporter ask, wonder, how the murderers stood unchallenged—for 20 minutes.

Richard Fernandez got the crux of the matter:

From a certain point of view the British crowd behaved perfectly and this is the way “they” all want us to behave. The populace sheltered in place, didn’t do anything rash, talked to the perpetrators as people. They waited for the police to come and the hospital helicopter to take the corpse away. Some will doubtless get counseling to overcome their shattering experience.

And then they will congratulate themselves on how tough British society is; resilience and all that.

Keep Calm and Carry On. It a great phrase for everyday problems or disasters outside of our control. But when Something Wicked This Way Comes, carrying on is not a sign of resilience, but of denial.


On the essence of a gun culture

On a lame bit of text

The 4 men who stormed the Texas Tower on August 1, 1966 to take out a sniper. Numerous riflemen on the ground had limited his ability to shoot for over an hour holding the expert marksman to 15 dead on the street. For context, a video game trained marksman, on foot, killed 77 in about half the time in Norway in 2011.(AP file photo)

The 4 men who stormed the Texas Tower on August 1, 1966 to take out a sniper. Numerous riflemen on the ground had limited his ability to shoot for over an hour holding the expert marksman to 15 dead on the street. For context, a video game trained marksman, on foot, killed 77 in about half the time in Norway in 2011.(AP file photo)

  • Linda

    It’s so horrible. and apparently if you bring up the idea that an armed populace would help prevent this sort of situation, folks go high and right:
    Meanwhile, it must take a deep denial in order to allow Islamists a different set of rules:
    Crazy times.
    Good post. Hope you are well!

    • Leslie Loftis

      Sadly, it is easy to find examples of Sharia law clashing with British law; they have their own councils which see spotty regulation and oversight.

      As for guns and self defense, people think they will bring chaos. They don’t separate the inanimate object from the actor and make illogical assumptions about both; since guns do bad things, anyone who owns guns is a bad person. They therefore see guns as the means of chaos, like tossing a jar of battery acid in with a room of toddlers. That some citizens might use guns for self defense, have studied how to use weapons–none of that makes sense to them because they’ve never considered the need for self-defense. That was the point of my PJL piece.

      The reality though, a return to self defense might look quite a bit like chaos at first. Apparently some EDL vigilantes clashed with the police that evening. The hashtag, don’t riot place a poppy, trended in response. Because rising to defend, they called for “feet on the street” must mean a riot, right? It can’t possibly have anything to do with the dismal 20 minute response time and citizens feeling vulnerable in their neighborhood? (I was going for a rhythmic repeat of 20 minutes in my post–20 minutes is an awfully long time in these circumstances–but I should have slept on it. It didn’t come out the way I wanted.) From the London Riots, an old post about a Telegraph article on the men who the rioters ran down with a car and the baseball bat wielding response, brackets mine:

      the longer that lawlessness continues, and the more intensely that ordinary, law-abiding people feel under siege, the more such spontaneous groups will develop and harden. [Herein lies the societal danger. This is exactly why law enforcement cannot allow civil disorder to escalate, why aggressive measures must be taken. Vigilantes have their place when the state fails, but chaos can set quickly. Best not to let things get this far. Lara tweeted that London felt like a war zone. If the police do not assert control, then it will be.] Some will remain wholly protective in their intentions, while others may feel tempted to branch out into revenge attacks. [Exactly.]

  • Jody

    Your thoughts on this, cycling around Facebook with photo of three women near the body?

    Amid the horror and revulsion of the Woolwich, attack that happened in Woolwich, London on Wednesday , millions around the world have marveled at the extraordinary bravery of three ordinary women.

    Dubbed the “Angels of Woolwich”, the trio faced up to Lee Rigby’s killers with little thought for their own safety.

    TV footage shows two of them fearlessly tending the already-dead soldier’s body, just yards from the killers.

    Yesterday Gemini Donnelly-Martin, 20, told how she and her mother Amanda, 44, walked up to the bloodied, killers and asked if they could comfort the dead soldier because they didn’t want him to die alone.

    But she brushed aside any talk of bravery, modestly insisting: “It had to be done”.
    Mother and daughter have been hailed heroes and praised for showing the true nature of the residents of the London suburb.

    Drummer Lee Rigby was a “dedicated and professional soldier” and a “true warrior” who had wanted to be in the Army since he was a little boy.

    The soldier was also a “loving son, husband, father, brother and uncle”. He leaves behind a two-year old son, Jack. R.I.P

    Suspended Coffees We often Share stories of kindness and selfless acts on this page but this is by far one of the most amazing acts of kindness i have ever come across.
    These Woman risked everything so Drummer wouldn’t die alone, that is the greatest act of kindness.
    Please SHARE to show the world the true meaning of kindness.

    • Leslie Loftis

      Too much to write in the time I have. This cuts to one of the feminist issues about how women are different from men. In a way, we are stronger, still kneeling in front of the red hands because “It had to be done” and women, mothers, are the societal root of this strength. We will teach what must be done to our sons and daughters; we will model the bravery required no matter the cost. When the women are no longer brave, then all is lost.

      Courage is not merely one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CS Lewis

      UPDATE, now that I have more time: Ann Althouse asks “Where are the men?” Good comments there, but I’m wondering where were the beat police? My guess:
      The calls started coming in that a man was dead and the two perpetrators were standing around armed and dangerous. But most London cops aren’t armed. Guards at significant posts are visibly armed, and some specialized units are armed and marked, in neon red on their cars. Think of armed units like K-9 units here. Anyway, when the calls come in about the armed and dangerous criminals, where were the beat cops, the ones normally patrolling a neighborhood perhaps only blocks away? Think about the walking radius of 20 minutes. How many regular police could have responded in 5 or even 10 minutes. I wonder if we will soon learn that just like the Tube bombing, and the taxi shooting, that nearby cops were not allowed and did not go in until the area was secured. It was too dangerous.

  • Maverick

    I was astounded that the attackers stood around for so long. I expected that they would be shot, run over, or chased almost immediately. This makes me realize how much I expect others around me to be armed. Maybe, I am the slacker.

    • Leslie Loftis

      I know. 20 minutes. It is inconceivable to me–and I do know what that word means. Certainly in the West you call home, you would have been defended while you knelt over the fallen trying to fix him up. (Maverick is a nurse, who might think she is a slacker, but I know her.) You don’t think about self defense because everyone else around you does, which enables you to focus on what you do: first response.

  • ari

    May I point out that the young man who was killed was a model soldier, a good son, an excellent husband and father. His wedding picture is in several news stories. He looks like a soldier marrying a Gainsborough milkmaid.