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.
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!'