19 July, 2009

Class and Generations

Peter Hitchens notes something interesting in Britain, which has had a very difficult week among those who love and support the British troops. He writes of a funeral procession (scroll down):

But people of my class and generation, the fiftysomething graduates who are thick on the ground in Oxford, were almost entirely absent, though the place was not hard to find, and it was well after the working day’s end. It’s the graduates who sent the soldiers there, of course. But it’s generally the others who go.

I think Hitchens misinterprets, though. He says the fiftysomethings are the policy-makers and implies that since they are not in attendance to honor the fallen, they are unaware of the costs of those policies. But it's impossible to be unaware these days, though willful ignorance of the details is certainly workable. Uncaring is much more likely. Or most likely... unable to cope with their role in it. Which, like a certain class in America who try to pretend our men and women aren't being maimed or killed over there because it harshes their mellow, betrays their possession of a great deal less courage than those they send off to war.

That was one of the things I most admired about President Bush. He cried with grieving families, stood next to the hospital beds of thousands of wounded, and suffered the political consequences of it all without complaint. It wasn't the kind of physical courage required of the soldiers he commanded, but it was the intellectual honesty and emotional courage to live face-to-face with the results.

It sounds like we could use more of his type on both sides of the Pond these days.