A New York Times article faults posts on the We’re Not Afraid site (created to “Show the world that we’re not afraid of what happened to London today, and that the world is a better place without fear”):

But more and more, there’s a brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure. Yesterday there were lots of pictures posted of smiling families at the beach and of people showing off their cars and vans. A picture from Italy shows a white sports car and comes with the caption: “Afraid? Why should we be afraid?”

A few days ago, We’re Not Afraid might have been a comfort. Today, there’s a hint of “What, me worry?” from Mad magazine days, but without the humor or the sarcasm. We’re Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they’re not afraid of the have-nots.

Brutish flaunting of leisure? Photos of smiling families at the beach are somehow not suitably modest? Going to the beach is not exactly sailing your private yacht; even if you count all of Western Europe as “the haves of the world,” smiling with your family at the beach is something that millions of poor people in poor countries can do, too. (Or is the fear that they’re lording it over the Nepalese?)

And showing off cars and vans? Vans are rarely the sort of thing that people show off. Even the “white sports car” (apparently on this page, though it might scroll off; if it does scroll off, look for “Roberto and Paola, Italy”) is hardly a Lamborghini. It looks like my old Ford Mustang convertible, which I bought partly because it was actually quite moderately priced. (Since it’s supposedly in Italy, I doubt it’s a Mustang, but I suspect that it’s at the same relative price level.) Presumably people post photos of themselves with their cars because they like them, smile easily in them, and use them as symbols of the statement that “we’ll just keep doing what we enjoy, and not let our lives be changed by fear.” Hard to see much “brutish” here, or even “flaunting of wealth.”

But here’s my question: What do you think is more snobbish, more of an assertion of your own superior standing over the common folk — (1) posting a picture of your “smiling famil[y] at the beach,” or yourself with your car, van, or even “a white sports car,” or (2) writing a New York Times article that faults such behavior as “brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure”?

(Thanks to Ann Althouse for the pointer.)

UPDATE: Caliban writes, “Thanks to the Volokh Conspiracy for raising my blood pressure to unhealthy levels.” We aim to please!

Comments are closed.