Nobody noticed them for a long time. They could be found in cities everywhere, usually outside, and standing on their own. And then quite suddenly they became intolerable, and they came under physical attack.
Smokers? No, I wasn’t thinking of smokers (although I very easily could have been).
I was thinking of statues. All of a sudden, statues everywhere are coming under threat, and under physical attack. It started with the statue of Robert E Lee in Charlottesville, but rapidly spread to other statues. It won’t be long before it comes to Britain. And people are already asking questions like:
Karl Marx must fall ahead of Admiral Nelson, surely?
I came across a headline this morning that didn’t seem to have any text beneath it. It asked a strange question, but provided no answer:
Why are so many cyclists aggressive towards pedestrians?
Add to this the rise of antisemitism. The Antisemitism Barometer:
36% of British adults believe at least one antisemitic stereotype
1 in 3 British Jews have considered leaving Britain in the past two years due to antisemitism
39% of British Jews conceal their Judaism in public
And then of course there are the antismoking campaigns, which I’ve often compared to antisemitism.
There seems to be a growing intolerance of more or less everything. Statues. Pedestrians (and maybe cyclists as well). Jews. Smokers.
People seem to get along together perfectly well for a long time, but then they all seem to fall out with each other. And gradually push comes to shove, in a sort of chain reaction.
Everyone gets caught up in it, in some way or other.
It seems to be at its worst in the USA, where Donald Trump seems to have become the arch-villain for half the country, with lots of people calling for him to be assassinated or impeached, and talk radio hosts like Michael Savage and Alex Jones foreseeing civil war if anything like that happens.
But it’s really no better in Europe, where tensions are mounting just as high under a vast influx of migrants and a succession of terrorist attacks in Paris, London, and most recently Barcelona.
The whole world seems to be slowly coming to the boil. There’s the sense that if war doesn’t break out between one country and another, it will break out on the streets between pedestrians and cyclists, or smokers and antismokers, or maybe even between the statues of Karl Marx and Horatio Nelson that peacefully co-existed in London for about a century.
Is it being deliberately whipped up? Or is it happening of its own accord?
My own sense, for what it’s worth, is that the authorities have lost control, and events are now proceeding under their own momentum. Who knows where it will end?