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From “Anarchy in St. Augustine” in the January 1965 Harper’s Magazine
St. Augustine was born of the sea, cursed by the sea, caressed and
plundered, made, destroyed, and reborn on the bosom of great waters… These florid phrases of the St. Augustine Historical Society,
designed to lure tourists to the nation’s oldest city, have a curious
pertinence this winter. Words like “cursed” and “plundered” and
“destroyed” have come to apply not to what the sea has done to the
Ancient City, but to what its inhabitants have done to
themselves. After months of racial disorder, St. Augustine today is an
exhausted little town, with worn-out people and a crippled economy;
moreover, it is perhaps the most bitterly divided community on the
North American continent. Massive hostility exists not only between
the races, but also within the white population.
The city’s institutions of law and order have cracked under the
strain, its leading citizens are in despair, its terrorists have
adopted new tactics after an orgy of early summer violence, and its
Negro community– 4,000 in a city of 15,000– is both wounded and
But worst of all is the silent fear of ordinary men who know their
lives depend on avoiding the threatened night ambushes, the Molotov
cocktails, and the sniper attacks. St. Augustine’s Negro leaders have
lived with this fear for over a year, and, in the “quiet” days that
followed the nationally publicized demonstrations, the same fear
stalked those of the town’s merchants and restaurant owners whose
offense was in complying with the Civil Rights Act.
Over dinner with some French and British friends the other night I accidentally started an argument that made everyone angry. All I said was that a new survey indicates that the British now have the angriest culture in Europe. “Mon Dieu,” said the Frenchman, “that’s supposed to be our specialty!”He went on to insist that the French have always held the No. 1 spot in any anger sweepstakes, and that they are proud of it. “We are born angry!” he said. The British at the table, normally stiff-upper-lip types, defended their new distinction with raised voices. Both sides have plenty to be steamed about. The survey showed that the British gnash their teeth over queue jumpers, traffic snarls, S.U.V.s and people eating in public. The French smoulder over bad restaurant food, sloppy service, traffic jams and telemarketing. Actually the French ended up in the No. 3 position in this survey, trailing the Italians, whose main complaint is erratic driving. Perhaps they should all look in the mirror. The poll was carried out before the scandal in Britain over parliamentarians’ expense claims or the French wave of strikes and marches against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s reforms, which the French elected him to implement. It’s hard to say who would be more angry today. It might be a draw. Boiling over is less evident in Asian cultures, where people have generally learned to seek resolution of a conflict without losing their temper. In Japan, the concept of “wa,” or harmony, is “very high on the scale of values,” says a Tokyo friend. And in China it’s all about “mianzi,” or saving face by maintaining surface tranquility….Anyone who lived in London in August of 1997, as I did, watched incredulously as the nation wept. Now and forever more, 60 million Brits feel free to show their emotions. Britain has changed. Thorne noted that external displays of emotions depend on where you live. “Different societies allow expression at different levels,” he says. Therefore, to “win” a competition like this, a culture must have a “willingness to express anger and something to be angry about at the same time.” On this basis, Britain would never have been a serious player pre-Diana. “But today you can’t miss the angry Brits,” Thorne notes. “We’re all angry, and we don’t hide it.” –“Who is the angriest of all,” Michael Johnson, New York Times
The assassin who killed Dr. George Tiller at his church, murdered Tiller in order to keep him from performing therapeutic abortions for women. The murderer is one of a long line of religiously inspired radicals who have tried to shut down abortion providers through bombings and murders. They are not the mainstream of the pro-life movement; they are a fringe sect who are not content to protest abortion or even to engage in non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, they believe that they are justified in bombings and killings to prevent great evils that they regard as contrary to God’s fundamental law. Using violence– like bombings and murders– to intimidate people in this way is terrorism. It is so in common language, it is so defined in U.S. law. The terrorist in this case and the terrorists in previous abortion clinic bombings and murders are, as far as I am aware, not foreigners. They do not have Arabic or Islamic names. They are American and they live in the United States. However, just like Islamist terrorism, this terrorism is driven by fanatical religious belief. Many religiously inspired terrorists live in other countries; some, however, (who include both Christians and Muslims among their number) live in the United States and are U.S. citizens or resident aliens. If bombings of abortion clinics and murders of abortion providers are acts of terrorism, should we treat the problem of terrorism that they present the way we treat the problem of terrorism from Al Qaeda and other groups? That is, should Scott Roeder, who is currently suspected of being Dr. Tiller’s murderer, be treated the way we would treat a suspected terrorist who we believe may have ties to Al Qaeda? Should we treat him like Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was apprehended at O’Hare airport and detained in a military prison in the United States for several years? (That is, until the government transferred him to the criminal process in order to avoid judicial review of his detention.)—”Terrorism, Domestic and Foreign,” Jack M. Balkin, Balkinization
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”