In an angry reflection on the Connecticut shootings in the New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson wonders: 'What does it take for a society to be sickened by its own behavior and to change its attitudes?' He gives four examples, two in the past, that have been faced up to, and two in the present, that haven't. There are the South African Boers and the apartheid system, the American Deep South and institutionalized racism.
In the unresolved category are the Japanese and their whaling industry and then, what is the final example? Russia's corruption? African kleptocracy? No, God help us, it's this:
'When will the British realize that public drunkenness—a practice now internationally associated with them as a nation—is something to be embarrassed about?'
Britain, the nation of Magna Carta, of Shakespeare and Newton, the industrial revolution, Hume, Locke and the Beatles, this royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle, is now mainly known for scantily clad young women vomiting in city centres on Friday nights. Is that really how they see us? It's rather embarrassing.