Monday, April 14, 2008

The Mother Country Loses Our Esteem

Two generations ago, when I was in my early teens, the general attitude of Americans towards Great Britain was summed up by Roger Miller in his classic pop tune, “England Swings”:

Now, if you huff and puff and you fin’lly save enough
Money up to take your family on a trip across the sea
Take a tip before you take your trip
Let me tell you where to go
Go to England, oh

England swings like a pendulum do
Bobbies on bicycles, two by two
Westminster Abbey, the tower of Big Ben
The rosy red cheeks of the little children

That was the same England that our family moved to, and even though it wasn’t the rosy-cheeked picture painted by Mr. Miller, it was still a cultural entity that was recognizable to us as England, albeit in its post-war post-empire incarnation.

To Americans, England was the Mother Country, even for those of us whose ancestors came from somewhere else. It was the ultimate source of our American values, and although we had fallen out with George III a while back, we still recognized Britain as being like us in essential ways. We were willing to overlook their snobbishness and condescension towards us colonials, and the bad food, and the appalling weather, because England was… well, England.

Alfred the Great. 1066 and all that. Chaucer. The Magna Carta. Shakespeare. Sir Isaac Newton. Queen Victoria. The sun never sets on it.

Our eccentric elder brother, that nook-shotten Isle of Albion.

But not any more. According to Investor’s Business Daily, Americans are revising their opinion of the Mother Country based on its recent behavior:

Why U.S. View Of Britain Is Tanking

Public Opinion: Most global surveys on image spotlight negative views of the U.S. But a new poll of U.S. perceptions of Britain shows a plunge. Since it’s the U.K.’s turn under this microscope, we’ll venture some reasons.

First, it’s no pleasure to see U.S. perceptions fall so precipitously for our oldest and closest ally — the one with whom we went through two World Wars and the Cold War, and in each simultaneously elected great leaders who rose to the occasion.

But from a BBC World Service poll of 1,000 Americans, it’s clear U.S. views of Britain have fallen sharply. The BBC said “positive views” of Britain stand now at 45%, down from 67% a year ago. Those holding negative views are at 42%, up from 18%.

What happened? The poll gives no reason for the big shift, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to gauge at least some possibilities:

First, it’s clear Britain is no longer the ally it once was. In the great war on terror, its leaders are going wobbly, despite the valor of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain’s weakening commitment signals an unreliable partner, which whatever the rationale, isn’t admirable.


And under direct fire, some British forces looked downright soggy. When an Iranian National Guard boat brazenly took British sailors hostage in 2007, the U.K. military leadership sought to free them at any cost, including national honor.
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The released seamen disgraced themselves further by whining about iPods, praising their captors when they were let go and then accepting Iranian swag bags on the way home. The British public completed the sorry picture by making a tabloid spectacle of it.

Although some of these bad moves were eventually halted, the fact that they happened at all signaled a military gone soft.

That brings up a second repellent trend — a culture gone so soft it won’t defend itself. Several events happened to show it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the Church of England, said Britons will eventually accept some aspects of Muslim Shariah law — the same rules that cut off hands for stealing, heads for blasphemy, and force women behind the veil.

As practiced, it’s the very system responsible for the stagnation and poverty of Arabic and Muslim cultures over a thousand years — which happens to be why many Muslims flee to Britain in the first place. If the Archbishop won’t stand up for British values, who will?

It’s a good question: Who will?

Are the imams and the BNP our only choices?

The U.S. is constantly bombarded with news stories of Piglet mugs being banned to avoid offending Muslims, U.K. flags being taken down in prisons because their crosses offend Muslims, and mosque Minarets rising among the historically dreaming spires of Oxford.

All these are strikes against some of the strongest and most beloved symbols of Britain. If a culture doesn’t want to defend itself, no one else will. But certainly, no one has to admire it.

Then there’s the lack of seriousness about terrorism. Against the Orwellian quality of British law enforcement, such as ubiquitous street cameras, there’s been remarkable inefficiency in fighting terrorism — and Britain has been hit by three terror strikes as a result.

And then there’s that old favorite, Yank-hatred, which — unlike Pak-hatred or Arab-hatred — is not yet considered “racism”:

Despite its role as ally, British officialdom is loaded with anti-Americanism, which frequently spills over to the public. Everyone from Prince Andrew to local pop stars feels it’s OK to make anti-American statements. The fact that Mark Malloch Brown, who has expressed open contempt for Americans, can reach a high advisory post in the government, or that crazy leftists like Ken Livingstone or George Galloway can even be elected, dampens our affection, too.

The editorial points out that the negative attitude towards the Brits held by Americans has arisen in part because of our historical affinity for the island. A falling-out between brothers is more rancorous than an argument with a mere acquaintance.

The whole thing could turn around instantly at the first sign of spinal regeneration on the part of the British. But every week brings another collection of bizarre and disheartening news stories about dhimmitude and institutional cowardice in the United Kingdom.

We’re all eager to see the situation change.

Hat tip: Queen.


Michael said...

Damn right. What has happened to the Brits?

There's something damn wrong with the youngsters too. I mean the indigenous youngsters. All scrrewing around at age 13 and so. I'm not a prude, but I'm convinced there's an appropriate time for anything and FAR TOO MANY British youths are simply skipping childhood. We were in Scotland some time ago, one evening, looking for a place for a decent meal. It was quite late, 9pm, and both my wife and I were struck by the numbers of twelve and thirteen year old girls, dressed up like, well, if my daughter would dress up like that her bottom would take on a bright red colour. Just like little prostitutes, that was it.

Outlaw Mike/Belgium

talnik said...

And those gosh-awful TEETH! And Elton John saying Americans are gyno-phobic or whatever he said because we don't love Hillary..did he support Thatcher? And John Lennon--nothing worse than a multi-millionaire commie--there I said it! Finally, after all these years...

Anonymous said...

That's an excellent and (sadly) spot- on IBD article. We can only watch from across the pond and wonder 'WTF?'. It's difficult to accept what has become of Britain. It is also very sad.

Zenster said...

Investor's Business Daily: [re: sharia law]

As practiced, it’s the very system responsible for the stagnation and poverty of Arabic and Muslim cultures over a thousand years — which happens to be why many Muslims flee to Britain in the first place.

Nice to see someone finally connect the dots about Islamic jurisprudence and "the stagnation and poverty of Arabic and Muslim cultures".

Too bad that the author glibly swallows this camel whole while choking on the gnat of asking why many Muslims are so eager to re-install sharia in their newly adopted countries. Much like a trout in the proverbial milk pail, this question is more than a bit difficult to ignore.

our oldest and closest ally — the one with whom we went through two World Wars and the Cold War

Lastly, in an out-of-sequence observation, it would behoove Americans to remember that Britain's ready embrace of socialism made it distinctly less than a reliable ally in the Cold War. Far too many British civilians (Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt et al) delivered critical military information to the USSR when denial of such vital data could have forestalled costly escalation of the conflict.

Instead, such divulgences led to a round-robin of measures and countermeasures that cost untold TRILLIONS of dollars. As always, with our typical insistence in refusing to learn from history, the same crucial data flows into communist China and allows them circumvent DECADES of research that would cost them TRILLIONS of dollars as well.

This time the stakes are much higher. While the industrialized nations decline, Western politicians continue to feed at Uncle Mao's All-You-Can-Eat cheap labor trough. Their snouts are buried so deep in the feedbags that their eyes conveniently miss the handoff of new and more puissant technological miracles.

If there is, indeed, a Hell. Its most extreme corner must be reserved for those political leaders who so adamantly and insistently refuse to learn from history.

Andrew said...

I yield to no one in my rose-tinted nostalgia for a "Brideshead Revisited" England that is no more and probably never was, but yes -- the reality is deeply discouraging.

It was the Tony Martin case, unmentioned in the IBD editorial, that first clued me in that something was seriously wrong in today's UK.

Joanne said...

Just remember, the country that hits rock bottom first, also is the country to rise up first. Britain seemingly is coming smashingly down, but she has always had the ability to bounce back up equally, and when she does, the blood will flow.

nikolai said...

I think we'll be the first to blow.

James Higham said...

What has become was the subject of my recent post. The problem lies in the betrayal by the leadership. See another Thatcher and the matter would be reversed.

X said...

And those gosh-awful TEETH!

Oi! Yeller's a natrul colour! [/idiot]

Based on the news that gets broadcast I don't really blame people for losing trust in us - nor am I particularly surprised at the way people here act toward America, considering their primary source of information about the world is the BBC (and Reuters). I would prefer they didn't lose that trust, but... well, with Broon in charge, I've lost trust in us.

However, there are changes happening behind the scenes. The Ministry of Defence has belatedly realised it has to actually give our infantry decent equipment and has started purchasing proper armoured vehicles instead of landrovers and "boy racer" trucks without armour... you may wonder what relevance that has, and I'll tell you. The reason they've been buying shite up to now is because of a Europe First policy in defence procurement which has seen less capable european-produced equipment bought at a premium, when more capable equipment could be purchased elsewhere at a much more competitive price. This was part of a drive for integration with a European defence "identity", the slow progress toward a unified European armed forces command structure and a unified procurement strategy. Another tool for EU integration, in other words. The change is that, in abandoning this europe first policy in a key area, the MoD has started to back away from the very concept of an integrated european defence procurement policy. That's a massive step in the right direction. It's an entire government department humming and hawing about EU integration. I'm not sure whether you realise how big an admission this is. The media certainly don't - it's far larger than their parochial view of the world, their rather ironic "little england" perspective. It's a tacit admission that something in the EU isn't working.

The americans and the canadians field the RG-31 in Afghanistan. We field landrovers and a few Mastiffs and something called the WIMIK, which the army - stil using a world-war 2 doctrine of "light and fast", demanded over the RG-31. SO there is more to this than simple EU integration, but the fact that the MoD has backed away from that integration means a certain amount of realism is starting to creep into the top levels of government. And that means it'll creep into other areas of government. The change has already come, and it's slowly creeping through the civil service, who will intriduce it to their tame cabinet ministers in due course. Watch out for it to suddenly appear, like magic, in massive policy shifts in a couple of years and remember where you read it first. :)

Unknown said...

Off topic, but related to the UK.
DavidT is probably not so bad as most other leftists, but he has some way to go.

talnik said...

Archonix...I'm not an idiot, I have yellow teeth too!

Zenster said...

Archonix: It's an entire government department humming and hawing about EU integration. I'm not sure whether you realise how big an admission this is.

This is a vital shift back towards the "special relationship" once enjoyed by Britain and America. All of it is very good news for England's survival and a long-overdue thumb-in-the-eye for the EU's wankers.

defender said...

We here in England have gone through a social revolution without even seeing it. A mass hypnosis during which so many rules and regulations have gone through without objection. We were busy enjoying "prosperity" without responsibility. We were on a binge of drink, credit,drugs nothing was going to spoil it.
We are now realising just how much it has cost us. Not just finalcially there is also family, community, moral, intelectual, educational breakdowns. We are broke, skint and in big debt, a debt as big as a major war would have cost.
This is a different war to any we have ever experienced before. Nothing to do with large armed forces and major conflicts. It is being fought every single minute without most of knowning its happening. How do you fight a beast like that?
I wonder what it will be called in the future

X said...

If I might be so bold... Black February.

Right after the consumer blast of a christmas some few years hence, loans will start defaulting as people realise they've spent far, far too much. It won't happen in January, because most people are holding their heads and sighing for much of that month anyway. There's always a rash of bankruptcies in January from overspend over christmas - consumer and business overspend. It happens. It'll be a February, when the bankruptcies keep happening and the defaults keep rolling in, and the banks start to realise that their money is disappearing. It'll make Northern Rock look like a ripped fiver.

Or so it seems to me...

Anonymous said...

Britain's decline is part America's fault too. Our best ally -- and we did nothing to at least express a warning, while the insane Blair simply destroyed it. A thousand year old nation, and Blair and his cronies completely gut it in little more than 10 years! He got some of his most insane ideas, like "diversity" -- from his "third way" ideological ally Clinton --and then came the disasterous reign of Bush. Hell, Bush probably encouraged that Britain adopt the same mass, inappropriate immigration that Bush himself loves, in order to keep inflation rates down. (Seven years after 9/11 and Bush has doubled the number of Saudi student visas to the US.) Both Bush and Bliar wanted to rule the world -- they just didn't care about ruling their respective countries.

George Bruce said...

defender said...

"I wonder what it will be called in the future..."

Same thing it should be called now. You are being invaded and colonized by an alien and incompatible foreign force that aims to displace the native population.

Anonymous said...
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