October 19, 2005
Across the pond, they're flying over the cuckoo's nestBy Noel S. Williams
Regrettably, here in the United States political correctness has gone mad; but in Britain they've gone absolutely cuckoo.
Few sounds get a babies attention more than adults 'cooing.' With slight variations it's done almost universally, leading me to believe it's not culturally driven but rooted in primordial instincts before we even had proper language. No matter the ancient roots, political correctness has done away with this communication in one West Yorkshire hospital. In their infinite wisdom, and despite hundreds of years of evidence to the contrary, they decided that 'coo—cooing' is insulting to babies and somehow impinges on their rights and dehumanizes them. Now that's cuckoo!
I was so astonished with this absurdity that I decided to dig a little deeper in hopes of proving it was a one—off — perhaps just a little wayward English eccentricity. Unfortunately, I discovered quiet the opposite: political correctness runs amok in Britain; indeed, its assault on established traditions make it even more insidious than here. Here it's annoying; there, national identity is at stake. Lets take a trip across this green and pleasant land and you'll see what I mean.
Our departure point is Trafalgar Square in the heart of London. Before climbing aboard the tour bus take a good look around at the venerable statues of British heroes, for before we return the mayor of London, 'Red Ken' Livingstone, may have some of them replaced with modern obscenities.
Before hitting the motorway for green pastures where the sheep roam we swing by Harrods, arguably the world's most famous store. We were told 'if they don't sell it at Harrods then it's not made,' yet nowhere could we find an English—made gift as evidence of our trip. We search and dig but just cannot find the once prideful 'made in England' tag; instead, it's all 'Made in the EU.' Never mind, there's room on our bus so we decide to get a rocking horse for junior but are bewildered by the toy department's displays. These things, pardon my political incorrectness, are for midgets. Upon inquiring, it turns out the meddling Eurocrats in Brussels have somehow determined that rocking horses, of all things, shall have a maximum height of 60 centimeters.
Feeling 'short changed' we decide to supplement with a piggy bank in hopes of encouraging Junior to save; there's a problem there too: after complaints by Muslims they're hard to find. Funny, Jewish people don't eat pork either but they're not complaining. Neither could we find a 'black board' Don't even ask.
As we leave London pay close attention to our directions — we may not be able to rely on signposts when we return.
We're heading for the 'English Riviera', which, while more than a few degrees cooler that its more famous namesake is equally beautiful. Think of the scenic Oregon coastline, throw in verdant, rolling hills atop chalk cliffs, and that's the beauty of this place. As we negotiate the narrow country roads in Dorset we're reminded of a charming side of English eccentricity as we slowly go over the bridge built solely to benefit hedgehogs underneath. Signs tell us to watch out for deer, hedgehogs and sheep.
In Devon we go for a lovely walk along a rainbow—colored sandy beach until we join a crowd enjoying a good ol' fashioned Punch and Judy show. It's not what I recall from childhood, however, and after shouting, 'get him Judy,' I'm admonished, being told that the real thing was ruled out for fear it promoted domestic disturbances. As we return to our bus the locals tell us it's even worse as authorities banned a version in which Osama incurred Judy's wrath. Doesn't he deserve it?
We proceed down the coast into enchanting Cornwall and King Arthur territory where I plan to tuck in to a traditional Cornish Pasty. I better be quick because the pin— heads in Brussels are going to change its name — it's hard to understand their 'logic' but something about European tourists thinking that have to go to Cornwall to get one.
We head north through Cheddar Gorge (surprisingly, not yet renamed because they know where to get the cheese) to Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame; Okay, so we're really bound for Oxford, but many of the scenes were filmed there. What's striking is that the younger school children are dressed like ragamuffins. Apparently, school uniforms breach some ill—conceived 'Human Rights Act,' so are no longer mandatory.
Further north we explore the majesty of an English country cathedral with spire towering above daffodil laden fields beside a stream. The hymnbook, we discover, has been altered upon the orders of the Bishop of Hulme. He capriciously decided that the popular hymn 'I vow to thee, my country' is too patriotic, too nationalistic. Imagine that! That took the gloss of our spiritual respite but what we experience next put the fear of God in us.
After roaming spectacular Bamburgh Castle on the rugged Northumberland coast we stop at a market in the North East. There, we linger outside a stall bemused by the proprietors' rhythmic chants of 'come get 'em, 90 pence a pound.' Suddenly, a ghastly looking crew of officials burst past us and amid much commotion confiscates the poor chaps weighing scales and his means of livelihood. I thought MI5 had just uncovered a smuggling ring using a fruit stall as a front, or something similarly bad. Not at all, his only sin: not spending inordinate amounts of money to convert to EU—imposed metric equipment and having the temerity to use traditional standards. It was a shocking scene, really, more reminiscent of Nazi Germany than a great, flourishing democracy. Incidentally, one 'Bobby' asked my 'partner' and me to move along. I explained that the 'partner' is my wife to which he said, 'Sir, we're under strict orders to not discriminate like that.' Huh? Must have something to do with not offending nontraditional 'domestic partnerships.'
We're running low on expensive petrol so it's back to London. As we pass through the stunning wealds and wolds of the English countryside we finally pull into an irresistible country pub. After ordering my 'half of bitter' and a shandy for my wife/partner, I ask the manager why, bedecked in just about every flag imaginable, there is no Cross of Saint George (England's patron saint) on the pub? She sighs and apologetically explains that the local authorities don't want to offend Muslims with such public displays. Not even on taxis. I guess many hundreds of years ago the Crusaders wore the cross of Saint George. Wow, and I thought the English had long memories!
Back in London we keep going 'round and 'round the same traffic roundabout and it's not because we don't know the rules but because there is no exit. Not for Trafalgar Square, anyway ... with nothing better to do a Eurocrat named Francis Carpenter has suggested it be renamed in order to not offend the French whose defeat at the hands of Admiral Nelson it commemorates. Also on his agenda for renaming is Waterloo Station.
In Richard II, Shakespeare so eloquently referred to England as a '...precious stone cast in the silver sea.' It's a sea that has helped her to repel a great Spanish Armada, defeat Napoleon and thwart Hitler. I only hope they can now overcome the pernicious political correctness that seeks to accomplish what these tyrants couldn't.