November 15, 2004


W. F. Deedes on British anti-Americanism:

Americans over here must not take too seriously the abuse directed at them since George W Bush was voted back into office. Part of it is attributable to the Iraq war, which is unquestionably divisive. Most of it springs from that school of liberal thought that has fought hard to rid us of Victorian values and is dismayed to find them flourishing in America.

Jealousy also comes into it, as it did when the Americans arrived in this country to help us reoccupy Europe. "Over-paid, over-sexed and over here" was the jibe we ungratefully threw back at them. Eisenhower's trial was not so much getting us back into Europe as stopping the British and Americans from quarrelling.

Montgomery served us well and I admired him, but his behaviour towards America's generals was unforgivably rude. A risible character in Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited is played by an American army lieutenant in London who is always busy socially but performs no military duties. "Have you seen their food packs?" my company sergeant-major used to exclaim crossly. They were fatter than our own, their bacon was juicier and, much to the indignation of my CSM (who smoked like a chimney), their packs included cigarettes.

"Yet all is forgiven," I thought in Normandy last May, when I saw for the first time America's vast military cemetery near the beach at Omaha. So it should be.

(Via reader Mike Daley)

Posted by Tim Blair at November 15, 2004 02:34 PM

Over 60 million people voted for W.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 15, 2004 at 02:50 PM

Link didn't work.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 15, 2004 at 02:52 PM

Stray goop stuck in the middle of the link. Correct link is: here.

Posted by: Patton at November 15, 2004 at 03:14 PM

Victorian values had a number of advantages. Of course, they didn't for the people who didn't follow them. But for those who did, it worked out.
There're enough ways to screw yourself up without breaking rules which have the benefit of ten thousand years of social experience. Go ahead, covet your neighbor's wife and see how your life improves.
I suspect Freud might be of some use trying to figure out the origin of the enormous energy expended in building a society and expanding which was simultaneous with Victorian mores.
You can look at the lotus-eaters and tell us who's getting someplace and who thinks they're already there, but are really noplace.
Anyway, Brits are free to laugh at our quaint ways. They should make sure to write to us telling us, so we know.

Posted by: Richard Aubreyr at November 15, 2004 at 03:21 PM

"Yet all is forgiven," I thought in Normandy last May, when I saw for the first time America's vast military cemetery near the beach at Omaha. So it should be.

Mr. Deedes speaks well, and I thank him for it. But how many of his fellow citizens have made the same trip, and the same conclusion? Enough so that they remember just what caused WWII in the first place, the next time some British paper directs their ire at the "Dumb Americans"?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at November 15, 2004 at 03:27 PM

I don't recall any such character in 'Brideshead Revisited'. Is he perhaps thinking of a character in the 'Sword of Honour' trilogy?

Posted by: SteveGW at November 15, 2004 at 03:29 PM

We pumped all those US dollars into their economy, freshened up their DNA, and this is the thanks we get?

Posted by: richard mcenroe at November 15, 2004 at 03:30 PM

"Over-paid, over-sexed and over here"

I believe the correct response from the GI's to the English allies was that they were:

"Underpaid, Undersexed and Under Eisenhower"

Posted by: Frank Martin at November 15, 2004 at 03:32 PM

I find it odd that the British are shitty on the Yanks for helping them to save their once great nation.

The Yanks also came out here to the land of Oz and helped to save our sorry arses (whilst we taught them jungle warfare) but apart from the usual lefty morons most Aussies I know like the Merricans.

I guess we are more like the Yanks than the Brits.

Posted by: Fluent Idiot at November 15, 2004 at 04:12 PM

It's refreshing to see friends overseas.

I am glad to see that our brave men on the USS Peary didn't die in vain.

Posted by: Secret Agent X-9 at November 15, 2004 at 04:26 PM

Fluent, have you ever considered the Brits are screaming so loud at US because they can't scream at anyone at home?

Their hate speech laws would throw them in jail pronto.

We're the safe outlet. And they know we'll be there.

Posted by: Sandy P. at November 15, 2004 at 05:20 PM

Good on ya deedes and good on ya the london daily telegraph on being the last line of defence on the madness that engulfes "grest Britain".
And yes loss of morality and the old values is what has resulted in the european acceptance of beheadings, suicide bombings, slaughter of women and children etc etc as legitimate forms of defence against the evils of "western imperialism"
40 years ago one can imagine what headlines and copy such horrors would have generated in the MSM of the day!

Posted by: davo at November 15, 2004 at 07:02 PM

Sandy P. -

I've never had the slightest difficulty in screaming at anyone I wanted to here in London, and nobody has ever threatened me with hate speech laws.

Whereas when I was at UCLA, I felt myself in danger of being lynched for referring to blacks as blacks, not African-Americans. And as for the time I innocently called Native Americans Indians ...

Fluent Idiot's description of Australia actually perfectly fits England. Anti-American feeling here simply isn't widespread, and Americans I've met here have no problems, because most people have the elementary manners necessary to distinguish between disagreeing with America's goverment and being rude to America's citizens. OK, so there's the occasional asshole who doesn't, just as I've been hassled in America by people who call themselves "Irish", but I'd be amazed if it were worse here than in Australia and it's certainly a million miles better than anywhere on continental Europe.

Posted by: PJ at November 15, 2004 at 07:08 PM

See, I don't mind British words so much. It's a blow to pride to go from the world's superpower to needing help from people who rebelled against you. Compensations are to be expected -- and British deeds have always been up to snuff.

Now, the French -- well, they seem to have learned well from Metternich to astonish the world with their ingratitude. Or maybe they resent that we broke up Hitler's restoration of Charlemagne's Frankenreich . . .

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at November 15, 2004 at 07:33 PM

Fluent Idiot, I think as individuals we are probably more sunny and optimistic like Americans rather than the poor old British worrying about the weather, sitting in smoky pubs, but as a society I think we are still more British than American. You know, judges wear wigs, cricket is a religion, etc etc. Sound things that will last longer in Australia than they will in Britain, probably.

Tony Abbott once gave a speech where he cited a demographer that argued that second to Britain, Australia in 2004 was the most British country in the world. I think you can find it on his website.

Posted by: Alex at November 15, 2004 at 07:53 PM

Lord (Bill) Deedes (ex Torygraph editor, Conservative minister, now a peer) wrote a wonderful book, Brief Lives, about some of the fascinating people he met over about 50 years of public life and journalism. It was available a few months through the Telegraph. Well worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy.

Posted by: Alex at November 15, 2004 at 07:58 PM

"Over-paid, over-sexed and over here"

It hurts to think we weren't the only ones who used the phrase.

Bloody whinging Poms!

Posted by: Andjam at November 15, 2004 at 08:50 PM

I have heard that the Japanese have seven words for gratitude - expressing various degrees of ill feeling.

As for me, I am grateful (not in the Japanese sense) to Henry VIII for successfully telling the Pope he was just another man, if a powerful one. Not that Henry was a man to emulate...

Posted by: John Anderson at November 15, 2004 at 08:53 PM

I'm all for those Victorian values, especially since there were more brothels in London at the end of the 19th century than at any other time in England's history. Once those celluloid collars and whalebone stays came off, baby, those people partied like it was 1899...

Posted by: richard mcnroe at November 16, 2004 at 12:37 AM

Perhaps twenty five years ago I wandered into a small pub in Kensington. A couple of old timer Brits were there having their pints and spied me. "Yank are you?" "Yessir, here to enjoy the weather." "Well, now, you sit right here and don't move until you can't move." They proceeded to thank me for what America had done for them and protest as I might, that I was only 10 years old in 1945, they were bound to get me pissed, and a fine job they did! No anti americanism in that pub that night!

Posted by: EddieP at November 16, 2004 at 07:18 AM