The Corner

Forced to Play Ping-Pong

Toby Harnden wraps up (I think) his splendid commentary on the horrible Brit sailor fiasco, with an eloquence & forthrightness I cannot hope to match, let alone improve upon. Watch the video clips Toby links to—if you have a strong enough stomach.

There has been an unmistakable change in public opinion on this incident.  When I started commenting (and my very earliest comments got lost in our wonderful new Corner-posting software), I got masses of outraged emails telling me what a horrible person I was to criticize L/S Turney and AB Summers, that I had no right to comment until I had walked a mile in their shoes, that I was a pathetic chickenhawk, etc., etc. That gradually died down, especially after the captives showed their cheery demeanor on departing from Iran.  It stopped completely when the news came out that the hostages were selling their stories for big bucks—just as four British servicemen were killed in Basra by a (probably) Iranian-made and smuggled IED. It’s been a while since the word “chickenhawk” showed up in my mail. Thoughtful commentary is now mostly Derbish, or at least Derbishly inclined; and if the sniffers-out of chickenhawkry have anything to say, they ain’t saying it to me.

Some things you can’t deny. This incident was a sensational and unmistakable display of the rottenness of modern Britain, and of the corrosive effects on the human spirit of hedonism, welfarism, and multiculturalism. There has always been a certain proportion of slime at the top of the British class system, but the common people could always be depended on for courage and patriotism. No longer.

And America, beware!  It is often the case with large cultural and political developments that we follow the Brits. They got Lloyd George’s welfare state, then we got FDR’s; they got Maggie Thatcher, then we got Ronnie Reagan, and so on. Don’t think it couldn’t happen here. Watching those Brits giggling and joshing in Tehran, it reminded me of nothing so much as an episode of “Friends”—an immensely popular show with the under-40s whose appeal was (in my experience) utterly lost on the over-50s. The Dianafication of Britain? Watch out for the Friendsification of America. You heard it here first.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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