The Corner

A Curious Statement in The Spectator

Sir Harold Evans is a veteran and acclaimed journalist. His official bio says, “In 2001 British journalists voted him the all-time greatest British newspaper editor.” It should be safe to assume he doesn’t write things that are blatantly untrue.

In The Spectator, he says that Mitt Romney “assailed Ambassador Jon Huntsman, the sanest in the Republican asylum, for being able to speak Mandarin. This is double treason by the lights of Romney and his xenophobic Tea Party chorus in their tricky tricorne hats. Citing the toxic atmosphere, Huntsman has now dropped out.”

Okay, we get it: Evans doesn’t like the Republican party. But I was especially interested in his claim — his statement — that Romney “assailed [Huntsman] for being able to speak Mandarin.” I’ve been following the campaign pretty closely. And the subject of languages has been on my mind lately: In the current National Review, I have an essay entitled “Speaking in Tongues: Candidates, Americans, and their foreign languages.”

I would be surprised if Romney criticized Huntsman for being able to speak Chinese — because Romney, for all his flaws, is not crazy, as far as I know. I would like to know where Evans found this attack by Romney on Huntsman. I also think that, if he has written something false, Spectator readers ought to know it.

Thanks to what they’ve been fed, for as long as anyone can remember, many Britons believe Americans to be crude, hateful, and nuts. They have been told that this is particularly true of American conservatives. Moreover, readers may be especially inclined to believe “the all-time greatest British newspaper editor,” who, in addition, has lived in America for years, and is, in fact, an American citizen.

While I’m at it: Why does Evans think the Tea Party is xenophobic? And why does he think it’s chorusing for Mitt Romney? Are members of Britain’s chattering class to be even more ignorant of American politics than they already are?


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