Last week saw the 18th (!!!) anniversary of the London bombings. I remember that day well – I was about to leave for Israel for ten days and wondered if my trip would be affected (it wasn’t). I also remember having a long discussion with my oldest brother about Ken Livingstone’s speech that day. On the surface, it sounded appropriate, but there was one paragraph that we both found revealing:
I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old.
Given Livingstone’s ideology, one couldn’t help but feel that had the attack indeed been aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers, at the rich and the powerful, he would not have minded as much. (There were reports that his staff celebrated 9/11.) It reminded me a bit of what I wrote here, about the envy that seems to consume so many of us, making us forget empathy and take delight in certain people’s suffering.
Is the opposite of uplift “downlift”? Not sure, so I won’t use that word. Here is a touching story – a clip of a pup being rescued from the earthquake in Turkey. I love how gently and carefully they dig the little fella out, and his expression of trust. Utterly unfazed. (Could not embed, for some reason, so click on link above – it is really worth it.) And an extraordinary feature about migrant children in the United States and the work many of them are doing to survive. The reaction of the Biden administration is that they are going to “crack down” on this problem – good, because it is a situation created by said administration’s policies and all of the ginned up hysteria about immigration during Trump’s time in office. This is a fiendishly complicated, sad situation. I like what Abe Greenwald has written about it here. (Don’t let the headline put you off – that is not what Greenwald is saying.)
Whatever your preferred organizations to help might be, please do give to them. There are horrors on this planet each day, of course, but the sheer numbers here and the painful images are quite something altogether. I do have a personal connection to Turkey, however small, and I will always feel a pang when things like this happen in a place I called home. A couple of my students from those days have been in touch with me – a reminder that when we teach kids, we make connections that last and (for better or for worse) we leave a bit of us with them. I am lucky, because my students seem to remember me fondly. (Not sure I deserve that!) It means so much to me, though.
This young guy is quite impressive: watch as this reporter from Iranian state media tries to play “gotcha” with him. He responds beautifully – he has massive emotional intelligence. And just plain intelligence, from what I can see. The U.S. is out of the World Cup, as is Canada – so I am currently rooting for England – but so far, this is one of my favourite stories from the event.
Shocking, shocking act of violence last Friday in Japan. As some of you know, I lived in Japan during the ’90s and always stay as on top as I can of politics there. So I was pretty disgusted Friday morning when I went online to read about the assassination and I found this AP article. Keep in mind that he was referred to as “divisive” and “arch-conservative” in the original lede (one cannot see that in the linked piece). I have no objection, in an obituary or news article, to referring to whatever controversies might have surrounded a politician. But the use of provocative, polarizing language to describe a man who had just been murdered was appalling. Abe was a cultured fellow and he was democratically elected – yet to many in media circles, anyone who is conservative must necessarily be a rube with dictatorial instincts. The choice of language also showed some ignorance of Japanese politics and culture – it felt like a projection of Anglo/Western politics and language onto a man who did not live or operate in an Anglo/Western environment. Yes, Japan is “Western” in many ways, but it also isn’t.
Not unrelated is what has happened in Sri Lanka. What I mean is that “green” policies that are popular and even desirable in countries like Canada and the United States, France or Germany, don’t necessarily belong in places like Sri Lanka. A nightmare has unfolded.
This piece by Douglas Murray was written in May, after the leak of the draft decision on Roe v. Wade from the U.S. Supreme Court. I read it then and thought it excellent – just re-read it now and feel the same way.
I feel sorry for this kid, sentenced to jail for life, as I feel sorry for his victim. And no, not making a moral equivalence between an invading force and a civilian victim of that force – I just feel pain for both of the men in this story, and for both of their families. It should be Putin up there on trial. And you know that this young man’s mother has no clue what is happening to him – she likely only gets to hear a highly-edited version of events. A tragedy all around.