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Leslie Loftis: Don’t rely on Captain America to save your skins next time


In The Daily Telegraph last week, Allison Pearson thought on the Paris train shooting and worried: Europe has no answer to the metastasising cancer of Islamist terror, and we can hardly rely on Captain America to show up every time a fanatic decides to turn his weapons on us.

Indeed. I admit extra sensitivities on Captain America issues. As an American living in London in the late Bush era and through the swooning over Obama, I developed a bit of whiplash. Everyone wanted the kinder, gentler, lead from behind America – until of course Parliament cut the Defence budget and slated aircraft carriers for scrap only to panic and to turn them around on their last voyage to go to Libya while the Prime Minister begged the American President for military action.

By then, the world had already tempted the American isolationist soul. Leaders and citizens everywhere encouraged our weariness of overseas conflicts and protested that we exit the world stage. They hung all their hopes on a novice politician who had a more acceptable American accent. We listened and then delivered.

So Pearson is right to worry. The world can hardly rely on Captain America, that should be plainly obvious by now. Anyone who gets a bit of American help these days got lucky.

Then Pearson touches, unknowingly, on why that will be a problem for British subjects. [emphasis mine]

The 550 men, women and children on the Amsterdam-to-Paris train did not escape death on August 21 because European leaders had taken action to guarantee their safety. They did not survive because of President Hollande’s high-flown “lesson in hope”. They lived because Captain America, unhampered by political correctness, was prepared to summon all his courage and take out his enemy.

Our leaders need to learn a lesson from Captain America, and fast. “Let’s go, go!”

Actually, the leaders don’t need to learn a lesson from Captain America, the people do. In countries that hold elections, politicians come from the people.

If the people do not have a sense of their personal responsibilities, if they are always waiting for the authorities to decide how to act, then how will the populace produce political leaders who take action, who can lead?

Again Pearson hits the truth. The potential victims on the train lived because Captain America “was prepared.” It is true. He, they, were. Pearson’s passive voice, however, does not identify who did the preparing of these men.

Our culture did it. Our supposed terrible, horrible, crass, aggressive, manliness culture did it.

As a Texan I live in the heart of this culture. I grew up in a land where self-reliance is so expected that it is silently assumed. We mentally prepare. In my five years in London, my incredulity over the UK populace’s patient waiting for authority became a common writing theme.

I saw it in the weather, when ice covered the sidewalks for days because the crews or Mother Nature take care of that sort of thing. I saw it in the citizenship test, which does not ask hopeful citizens to learn what is expected of them as responsible citizens but instead informs them of all of the perks and protections the British government owes to them. I saw the passivity in the London riots and the Woolwich murder.

Waiting for leaders? With rare exception, political office holders act on polls. Waiting for politicians to act decisively when the populace itself has largely forgotten how it might act – one might as well wait for Godot.

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Leslie Loftis
Leslie Loftis
Leslie is a once and future American expat, most recently in London. She is also a lawyer and former local political campaign operative turned freelance writer. She currently lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband and their four children. Find her on twitter @AHLondonTX.

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