On the evening of September 11, 2001, Rosemary Righter, the senior leader writer (“leader” is British for “editorial”) at The Times of London, was due at a dinner party. She arrived late, and found the tone, after a hard day at the office, oddly smug and triumphalist. Leaving early, she gave a lift to another guest. “Rosemary,” he said, “isn’t it marvelous to think that the arrogant bloody Americans have finally got it in the neck?” Involuntarily, she braked. Hard. Though not hard enough to precipitate him through the windshield, sadly.

Miss Righter was one of the first to experience an admittedly minor consequence of September 11 but nonetheless a widespread phenomenon: dinner party dislocation. Every few weeks in the British press, you could read some columnist or other announcing that he could no longer bear the company of his friends: progressive lefties bemoaning...

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