Remember Lockerbie

Cheers to Chris "RepMan, Jr." Cody for the idea.

Heathrow passport control agents aside, I adore London. A lifelong Anglophile, I've always enjoyed LondonTown's rich mix of history, cultural diversity and trendiness.

As I flit about from appointment to appointment, I take the opportunity to ask cabbies, building security guards and receptionists alike their views of current events.

Not surprisingly, almost everyone is focused on the seismic events unfolding in the Middle East. But, unlike Americans, the Brits with whom I've spoken are passionate about the plight of Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar el- Qaddafi. Brits are not only mesmerized by the unfolding events; they're taking it personally. Why? Because no one has forgotten Qaddafi's role in the downing of Pan Am flight 103. Lockerbie_1819219c    

I found that visceral response fascinating since I've yet to hear it mentioned in any American news coverage of the turmoil in Libya. Nor have I heard a single American mutter, 'Remember Lockerbie!' as so many Brits have (note to Millennial readers: In 1988, terrorists placed a bomb on Pan Am flight 103 which detonated over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. Some 275 passengers, crew and people on the ground were killed: 189 were Americans and 49 were Brits).

So, why the dichotomy between Brits and Yanks? I think the answer is obvious. We Americans are much more insular. We care more about the white dress Lindsay Lohan wore to her latest court hearing and Charlie Sheen's latest, nonsensical outbursts than we do about what's going down in the Middle East.

British coverage is simply more global in its outlook. They'll cover the upcoming William and Kate wedding to be sure, but world events dominate the news. And, Brits also have a sense of history. They remember the past, despise Qaddafi for his ordering the downing of Flight 103 and eagerly await a similar fate for the murderous despot.

The common man's take on global events says a great deal about his country's image and reputation. The average American's knowledge of Libya is cursory at best; our collective memories of Lockerbie virtually nonexistent. And, that is one reason why we continue our slow, but steady, decline. As other societies obsess about what's happening around the world, we Yanks stay focused on Hollywood, health care and who's being cast for the next edition of 'Dancing with the stars.' It's frustrating to witness and scary to contemplate the long-term implications.

In the meantime, I'll line up alongside the average Brit and remind you to 'Remember Lockerbie!'

8 thoughts on “Remember Lockerbie

  1. You’re 100 percent correct, Ken. There was something fishy about that Scottish move. Maybe Nessie pulled some strings.

  2. RepMan,
    Like you, I’m an Anglophile. Love the Scots too. But I think it’s worth noting that one of the masterminds of the Lockerbie tragedy is free in Libya, due to a Scottish judge letting him go, because this terrorist’s death was “imminent.” And this was how many months ago? Of course, this had nothing to do with Libyan oil…

  3. I think this is a great point – I’ve heard a little bit about lockerbie in regards to libya and moammar (we are on a first name basis as it were)
    Americans need to be more aware of the world and less interested in huckabee slamming portman and stupid charlie sheen. How is that news? and why do we KEEP seeing it on EVERY major news channel? it’s ridiculous

  4. Valid points to be sure, Greg. I think Chris’s POV was less about Lockerbie and more about the UK’s far more expansive world view. From a news coverage standpoint, Britain is the antithesis of America. There’s a tremendous thirst for knowing what’s happening elsewhere. We, on the other hand, are incredibly myopic.

  5. I think it’s a great subject, Chris, but I think most Americans have a tendency to forget about the past especially when there have been other circumstances more current such as 9-11. How many of us are historians? Plus, 9-11 happened on our soil. Sure, we lost precious lives. Much like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for instance. After awhile, though, the general public take it with a grain of salt.
    How many people talk about the astronauts that perished on the Challenger mission in 1986? Unless it’s an anniversary, it’s probably long forgotten.