On Saturday night, three men armed with knives and fake suicide belts drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before exiting the vehicle and stabbing multiple onlookers at nearby bars and cafes. Seven people were killed and another 48 injured in the attack, which the Amaq Agency declared ISIS took credit for. All three terrorists were shot dead at the scene.
In lieu of an official White House statement, President Trump addressed the attack in series of early-morning tweets wherein he went after London’s mayor, touted his Muslim travel ban, railed against political correctness, criticized (I think?) gun-control advocates, and then spent Sunday playing golf with Peyton Manning.
John Oliver’s reaction was much better.
“Obviously, our thoughts go out to everyone affected but, as a British person living in America, I feel compelled to address a certain theme that emerged through American coverage of this tragedy,” announced the comedian on Sunday’s edition of Last Week Tonight.
The witty Brit then threw to a series of media reports on CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times claiming that the U.K. was “reeling” and “under siege” following the attack.
“OK, here’s the thing: For the record, in no way is Britain ‘under siege,’” said a fired-up Oliver. “Is it upset? Yes. Is it pissed off? Oh, you fucking bet it’s pissed off. But to say it’s ‘under siege’ and that its people are ‘reeling’ is to imply that it’s somehow weak enough to be brought to its knees by three monumental assholes. And that, as an idea, is insulting.”
Oliver then explained how his fellow Brits were so “irritated” with headlines about Britain “reeling” that they started the #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling to mock the coverage—which included satirical tweets like “Accidental eye contact on the tube or in a lift” and “When people make tea in the microwave.”
“Honestly, it was an uplifting demonstration of quintessentially British defiance because the British people are never going to let terror change their way of life. And if you need proof of this, just look at this footage of people being evacuated from the scene. You see that one guy there?” said Oliver, pointing to the viral image of a man still gripping his pint of beer while fleeing the attack. “He refused to leave his pint of beer behind! That is a one-man walking ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster.”
Then there was Richard Angell, director of the left-wing think tank Progress, who gave a widely shared interview about how he’s vowed to return to the Borough Market restaurant he was dining at to pay his bill and tip the staff.
“We’re not going to let these people win, and I keep saying, if me having a gin and tonic with my friends, flirting with handsome men, hanging out with brilliant women is what offends these people so much, I’m going to do it more—not less—because that’s what makes London so great,” said Angell.
“Fuck yeah it is! Fuck yes it is,” exclaimed Oliver.
“And I hope—I sincerely hope—that that guy is out on the town tonight pounding down gin and tonics and flirting with every man he sees.” The HBO host then raised a glass to the lad, adding, “To you sir, I say this: Cheers.”