Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Dislocated Dining
Posted on 12/04/2003 2:10:31 PM PST by quidnunc
On the evening of September 11th, Rosemary Righter, the senior leader writer (leader is British for editorial) at The Times of London, was due at a dinner party. She arrived late, and found the tone, after a hard day at the office, oddly smug and triumphalist. Leaving early, she gave a lift to another guest. Rosemary, he said, isnt it marvelous to think that the arrogant bloody Americans have finally got it in the neck? Involuntarily, she braked. Hard. Though not hard enough to precipitate him through the windshield, sadly.
Miss Righter was one of the first to experience an admittedly minor consequence of September 11th but nonetheless a widespread phenomenon: dinner party dislocation. Every few weeks in the British press, you could read some columnist or other announcing that he could no longer bear the company of his friends: progressive lefties bemoaning the way old friends had gone over to the side of the Pentagon warhawks; old-school Marxists whod campaigned for unilateral nuclear disarmament outside US military bases 20 years ago disgusted at the way their pals were now defending regimes that brutalized women and executed homosexuals. I found myself estranged from many friends in London, including most of my colleagues at The Spectator, wary small-c conservatives for whom the Atlantic alliance has always been a mixed blessing and who couldnt help feeling, faced with all this axis of evil business, that maybe in his frightfully vulgar way Osama had a point the issue was America, nothing else.
In London, I gave up accepting dinner invitations for a while. It was too exhausting. If you attempted to rebut the usual sneers at Bush and Rumsfeld ie, if you attempted to engage them on the specifics they simply moved on to more generalized sneers, about the ghastly emotionalism of the Yanks, not to mention their aesthetically offensive obesity. Night after night, wrote Salman Rushdie in The New York Times, I have found myself listening to Londoners diatribes against the sheer weirdness of the American citizenry.
Mr Rushdie can surely be forgiven his sympathy for the arrogant bloody Americans: after all, the Islamists did to New York and the Pentagon what they wanted to do to him. But even that didnt excuse his obsessiveness. I was at a dinner party in London a few months back where somehow bemoaned how boring Salman had become about all this terrorism rubbish. I was indignant and about to regale them with a heartrending encounter Id had with one of Saddams victims in Ramadi earlier this year. But then I remembered the end of Evelyn Waughs Black Mischief, when Basil returns to London after his adventures in Africa:
I suppose you ran the whole country, says Sonia.
As a matter of fact, I did
Darling, I just dont want to hear about it, dyou mind? Im sure its all very fine and grand, but it doesnt make much sense to a stay-at-home like me Write a book about it, sweety. Then we can buy it and leave it about where youll see and then youll think we know
Its not just whos pro-war and whos anti-war: in London and even more so in Paris and Berlin and Rome, theres a third group fighting vainly the old ennui they cant understand why chaps who used to be such amusing company are suddenly so bloody primal all the time. Not long ago I found myself sitting next to a cool Nordic blonde who turned out to be the Swedish Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh. Ms Lindh wanted to know why the Americans present were so hung up on war and terror. Why, it was absurd and prevented any normal conversation on the real issues facing the world welfare, health care, etc. We agreed to disagree. I flew on to Iraq and had a grand old time in the Sunni Triangle. Ms Lindh flew back to Stockholm and was stabbed to death in a department store by an anti-Euro fanatic.
(Excerpt) Read more at steynonline.com ...
...or, maybe they're just frightened out of their wits (sic)?
. . . or shift the subject to one only tangentially related to the topic but one that they are better equipped to discuss, or bring up something 100% irrelevant that is merely another shot in the ideology wars, or retreat behind one of the many fallacious argumentums, such as ad hominen, ad ignorantum, or . . . or . . .
Someone once said if William F. Buckley went to hell, his punishment would be to have to argue with a six-year-old for all eternity.
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