March 27, 2005
Sour grapes make British whineBy P.J. Costello
I like Tony Blair and Jack Straw. Listening to the British Prime Minister committing his nation to standing shoulder to shoulder with the US after 9/11 provided a certain amount of comfort and reassurance. I appreciate the support many in the UK have offered the United States, especially in the form of sacrifices recently made by their armed forces.
I've seen many British sitcoms and I've developed a liking for that dry British humor. And there was at least one of three British invasions that most Americans are�OK with. That would be the invasion of the sixties...British rock 'n roll. There is no shortage of creativity from our European cousins, that's for sure.
Sadly, that creative talent creeps into institutions such as their Parliament and press, and is then used to ridicule and attempt to embarrass the United States on a broad range of issues, from foreign policy to table manners. I have to wonder, why?
Is it really the foreign policy of George W. Bush that drives this tendency to constantly uncork attacks against the US, as some have claimed? Is it possible that a natural tendency to complain about anything and everything exists within such a large portion of their population? Is there an external, aggravating factor that helps fuel these flames of animosity? The answer to the first question is no. I'm beginning to believe that the answer to the remaining two may well be yes.
Before sharing just a few of many examples from the whineries of Britain, that is, their press and Parliament, I would like to reveal the results of an interesting study that was conducted in the UK regarding a potential aggravating factor: alcohol consumption.
'An alarming 76 percent of employees are coming back to work drunk after taking a 'liquid lunch', according to a new survey carried out by Peninsula Employment Law Constancy. The results show that an increasing number of employees are consuming alcohol during their lunch break — a trend that could harm the reputation and productivity of a business'
Seventy—six percent drink at lunchtime? And they think the trend could harm the reputation and productivity of a business, do they? If you ask me, these mid—day pub—crawls could explain an awful lot. Viewing the world through the bottom of a beer mug could only give one a very distorted view. Forming opinions about others whilst under the influence can't be good either. I wonder how many MPs and journalists can be counted among this astronomical three—fourths of the British workforce that are tanked before two? It's a very good thing that the Brits have a dry sense of humor. Maybe the rest of their bodies have a chance.�
'The Americans are oversexed, overpaid, overfed, and over here.'
Do you know the origin of this famous at the time, British whine?� How about this one?
'It is always best and safest to count on nothing from the Americans except words.'
The former is something that one would often hear from British citizens had you been in England during World War II. The latter came from then—Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, circa 1939. Knowing a little about humor themselves, our soldiers, there to lay down their lives to protect Britain and liberate the rest of Europe from Hitler's Germany, were able to give the Brits a sobering comeback.
'British Tommys were undersexed, underpaid, underfed, and under Eisenhower!'
The British also got substantially more than the mere words promised by their possibly drunk Prime Minister. Knowing that such feelings predate George W. Bush's tenure as U.S. President by sixty years or so makes it hard to believe that the current griping we hear from our so—called friends is a result of Bush foreign policy.
The following excerpt is from a Margaret Drabble, who proudly admits to her bigotry, then goes on to prove her lack of sobriety and/or common sense, as well as her abject ignorance. This was published in a Daily Telegraph editorial
'My anti—Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world....
America uses the word 'democracy' as its battle cry, and its nervous soldiers gun down Iraqi civilians when they try to hold street demonstrations to protest against the invasion of their country. So much for democracy. (At least the British Army is better trained)'�
I think it's important to point out the facts that the writer deliberately omits, along with a comment or two on what has become typically British behavior.
Drabble neglects to mention that many of these so—called protesters were Baath party loyalists who were deliberately inflaming the crowd and throwing projectiles at our troops, or even firing at them. There was never any attempt to stop the democratic process of demonstrating, as she dishonestly implies. And as we have recently seen, eight million or more Iraqi citizens defied the Baath party terrorists threats and went to the polls, inspiring democratic reforms throughout the Middle East. So much for democracy, indeed! I wish Ms. Drabble could see me laughing. Better still, I wish she could see GWB and Tony Blair laughing. A toast to Maggie Drabble for providing a good laugh, as only her not—so—dry form of British humor can do.
As for what America has done to Iraq and the rest of the 'helpless world',� I would ask Drabble to give some thought to what Saddam Hussein was doing to his own helpless people and those of his neighbors in the region. Perhaps she should learn a bit about her own country while she is at it. Idi Amin didn't come to power on his own, you know. But the truth is that when people like her are so consumed with hate, or so intoxicated by their own inferiority, facts are not important.
After living near Amsterdam for the past seven years, I've had the occasion to witness the antics of many British tourists and expats who flock to the city in huge numbers to take advantage of its legal marijuana, prostitution, and liberal alcohol sales laws. What I have seen must be the British version of that 'fashionable American sickness.'
The Brits, being so bloody superior to us Yanks, have turned their version into animated art form. They roll around on the ground in their own vomit in front of the pubs and coffee shops, loudly proclaiming what a 'focking good time' they are having. If the spoils of their good time aren't coming out of� their pickled stomachs, they can be found soaking whatever wall they happen to be holding up with the by—product of their pickled bladders. Truthfully, I've never seen this disgusting behavior from a Frenchman, a Yank, or a Dutch citizen. It's always a Brit. It's true that all nations have their hooligans, but the UK is becoming a nation of hooligans. And they're over here.
Now recall the recent stunt of a leftist British newspaper trying to influence our elections by encouraging their own readers�to write letters to citizens in one county in�Ohio, urging support for the Kerry—Edwards ticket. Fortunately, it was a stunt that refluxed in their faces and dribbled down their now—drooping chins. Clark County went to Bush. That idea came from an editorial written by the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland, a staunch critic of the Iraq campaign and connoisseur of whine, extrordinaire. The following is a bit from that irony—filled editorial. He hails from a land that America freed, or at least kept free.
So perhaps it's time to make a modest proposal. If everyone in the world will be affected by this election, shouldn't everyone in the world have a vote? Despite Bob Dole, shouldn't the men who want to be president win the support of Liverpool and Leipzig as well as Louisville and Lexington?
It may sound wacky, but the idea could not be more American. After all, the country was founded on the notion that human beings must have a say in the decisions that govern their lives. The rebels' slogan of "No taxation without representation" endures two centuries later because it speaks about something larger than the narrow business of raising taxes. It says that those who pay for a government's actions must have a right to choose the government that takes them.
Today, people far from America's shores do indeed pay for the consequences of US actions. The citizens of Iraq are the obvious example, living in a land where a vile dictatorship was removed only for a military occupation and unspeakable violence to be unleashed in its place.
I believe a couple of corrections are in order. The concept is that citizens of a particular country� must have a say in the decisions made by their governments. I really don't think our forefathers would appreciate European hooligans, or anybody else, voting in American elections.�
The vile dictatorship has been replaced by a fledgling democracy and a dwindling occupation that was never intended as permanent, and unspeakable violence — and bloodshed — have always been the price paid by freed lands. It was the same price the British made us pay, and that we dutifully repaid with interest.
Freedland and his editorial staff know all of this. Freedland also contributed to a documentary for National Geographic in which he drew one parallel after another between the US and the Roman Empire, gleefully pointing out several times along the way that 'all empires fall.' I can draw parallels between Osama bin Laden and Mother Theresa all day long. This doesn't mean they are cut from the same cloth. It wouldn't change the fact that one is destined for fire and brimstone and the other will be canonized. We don't have an Emperor George and never owned much of an empire, but the British did. To be frank, I think they're still upset about that Yes, Jon. The sun has truly set. Get over it.�
The condescending rhetoric can also be found in Parliament. I watch CNN International, broadcast from London, as they frequently join Parliament in session and I've walked in on a few interesting discussions.
On one occasion, Defense minister Jeffery Hoon was on the hot seat� It happened around the time of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.One MP stood up and asked, in typically British, pompous way, 'Will the Defense Minister acknowledge that our troops are trained in the Geneva Conventions, unlike the Americans?"
Hoon gave him his acknowledgement but did not correct him. Tony Blair however, did on another occasion. I walked into the room just in time to catch this from a disgruntled MP;� 'I'm talking about American protectionism here!'� PM Blair shot back as quickly as it was sarcastically, 'Well, we know nothing about that here, do we?' The red—faced MP sat down quietly.
BBC News often show their true colors too. During the anthrax attacks in the US, I saw a couple of segments where the anchor in London was asking questions to a US—based BBC reporter. It seems the producers and anchors were trying their best to portray the US as in a state of hysteria. The anchor asked, 'What can you tell us about the panic in America? The reporter calmly answered that there was no panic in America. People were 'concerned but going about their business.' That reality wasn't good enough for the BBC though. On a later broadcast the same day, the same reporter was asked the same question. 'What about the panic in America'? This time the reporter was visibly irritated and said, firmly, there is no panic in America.� I was happy to see at least a fourth of that broadcast crew thinking clearly.
British citizens like to complain that we don't seek advice from them about diplomacy and security when we should because they are experts at both. I really enjoy hearing the security one most, though...after seeing Batman breach the wall of Buckingham Palace just to make a point about single fathers, or the bloke that managed to break into the palace and actually sit on the Queen's bed as she lay there in shock and 'had a chat' with her. Or the protestors that successfully charged into a session of Parliament, belatedly chased by security guards dressed in tuxedos and tails, who were so old they looked like WWII veterans. Good thing the demonstrators weren't� Islamo—fascists armed with ak—47s, eh mate?�
I've heard complaints that we didn't know how to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, but the British claim they are experts. These came about the same time CNN's Christiane Amanpour was showing live shots on TV of British troops charging and receiving money for drinking water from dehydrated, half—dead Iraqis in Basra, many of whom had been without fresh water for weeks. Interestingly, this same reporter was in London during U.S. elections and mentioned that only twenty—seven percent of the British public have a favorable opinion of Americans, or America, in general. This means that approximately seventy—five percent have an unfavorable view. Now where have I heard a like number before?
Not all British citizens are drunks and fools, of course. At least twenty—five percent are not. I have met several that are very bright and try their best to be objective. (But all of them did drink)� But to the Drabbles, Freedlands, MPs and other whinos of the UK, I would suggest keeping a few things in mind.
First, you are not superior to the United States; not as individuals and not as a nation. If anything, you are politically, militarily, and economically inferior. Secondly, you have enough problems of your own at home to focus on. Stay out of our business...especially our elections. Finally, in standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States you have the most powerful ally in the world at your side. Shouldn't you be at least a little bit grateful that, in addition to protecting you, we are also holding you upright?