The Corner

Pride of a Nation

A recent opinion poll in the Daily Telegraph on the current British view of America makes grim (and ridiculous) reading. Over at the EU Referendum, two posts take this poll apart. The first , by Richard North, looks at some of the math, the second by Helen Szamuely focuses on the phrase that “Britons see US as vugar empire builder”. She puts this down to ignorance:   “Hmm, I thought, unlike the British Empire that was entirely stylish and elegant. Does this sort of thing come out ignorance or hypocrisy? I am inclined to think ignorance, when it comes to the historical background and anything remotely resembling knowledge of the politics in this country, never mind anywhere else such as a big and complex country like the United States. At times I have heard people describe American small towns portrayed by Hollywood directors and stars who have never lived there and, in any case, loathe and despise the ordinary people who do, as being “typically American”. Hypocrisy is not far absent, though. Vulgar? This from a nation obsessed with WAGs (wives and girlfriends, since you ask) of footballers, Big Brother and Z-list celebrities? A nation and its media that proclaims the boorish antics of footballers like Wayne Rooney to be the “pride of England”?”   Making that point she then quotes from an article by Peter Oborne in the Evening Standard (original not online) contrasting the extensive coverage of the England World Cup team with the far scantier coverage of the British army in Afghanistan. The whole extract is a must-read, but if you read nothing else, read this:   “I do not know the background of the two young [British soldiers killed in Afghanistan] over the weekend. But the vast majority of the soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq come from similar origins to Wayne Rooney, the footballer whose moment of petulance cost England the chance of playing France in the semi-finals of the World Cup…Yesterday the England team plane, flaunting the slogan “pride of the nation” flew into Stansted Airport. In a few days’ time another plane will quietly fly into Brize Norton military base. The two dead men in that aircraft should be honoured beyond measure because they represent everything that is proudest and most noble about Britain. By contrast, the England plane carrying our football stars represents the crassest, most materialistic and shoddiest elements of our national culture. Sadly, that is the plane which represents the country we have become.”   I have nothing to add.

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