While it may come as no surprise that Britain, an island nation that has repelled all sorts of invaders throughout its long and distinguished history, would react calmly after this week’s terror attack, the citizens of London also delivered a not-so-subtle warning to Europe’s populists.
Political wisdom has it that a flare-up of terror attacks will tip Europe toward its worst nationalist instincts, electing the far-right Front National in France this May, and maybe, just maybe, ousting the pro-European Angela Merkel from power in Germany in September.
But the real takeaway from this week’s terror attack in London was that the opposite occurred: Britain, a nation as divided as any between left and right, came together, quietly, resolutely to lift a collective silent middle finger to those who think they can remote-control our democracies.
One might write this off as the stereotypical “stiff upper lip’’ reaction of a nation known for taking everything in stride and yes, as a New Yorker, I see many kindred spirits on the streets of London.
But what happened in London – or more precisely what didn’t happen – could just be the tip of an anti-populist wave that will gather strength this year over the continent, spilling back over the Atlantic into the United States in time for congressional elections in 2018.
There is reason to hope this is more than wishful thinking: Support for France’s Front National and Germany’s Alternativ für Deutschland parties appears to be weakening, not gaining, as those elections approach. In Washington, the Trump revolution is hitting a wall of resistance, and some political observers are taking bets on the administration’s longevity.
Which is surely not the chaos the terrorists were hoping to inspire.
On another note, I must inform you, dear readers, that today is the last day the WeeklyReview will appear under my name. Almost three years after founding Handelsblatt Global, the English-language voice of Germany’s leading financial daily, I am moving on to my next new and exciting challenge. In my wake, I leave behind a staff of talented, dedicated multilingual journalists and an innovative publication whose stories now reach nearly a half million people each month. I urge you to stay with Handelsblatt Global for Europe’s most-exciting new English voice – Made in Germany.