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October 13, 2004
Fear and Loathing on the ThamesBy Greyhawk
Roger asks for more. I'll oblige, as best I can. Last summer my niece and nephew and a group of their friends visited us in Germany then embarked on a tour of Europe. They returned to haus grauhawk weeks later, and reported generally good treatment throughout the continent with one notable (and to me unexpected) exception: London. The locals were rude, they reported. I speculated that it may just be that lacking a language barrier London was the only place where they knew the locals were rude. They assured me otherwise.
Now, reading this, I see they weren't exaggerating.
Exactly one month ago today, I was traveling on a London bus when a well-dressed woman boarded with her equally-respectable son in his school uniform. Ahead of her was an elderly American woman, who said, ?I beg your pardon, I didn?t mean to bang into you.? This prompted a tirade from the Englishwoman -- let?s call her Lady E -- that resembled a verbal assault by a brownshirt against a hapless Jewish pedestrian in 1933. The American -- call her Mrs. A -- sat down and cowered as the tirade continued: ?I rejoice every time I hear of another American soldier dying! You people all deserve to die in another 9/11. You are destroying the world.? Mrs A fought back: ?I personally am NOT destroying the world.? This only provoked Lady E more, and as the bus driver and passengers laughed, she screamed into the American?s face ?I wish every one of you would leave this country and not set foot in it ever again,? and Mrs A began to wince, crying. ?Thank you for ruining my day and my trip.? At this point Lady E lunged at the American and began to shake her. I jumped up and shouted at the top of my voice for the driver to stop and for her to leave the woman alone, prompting Lady E to come over to me and grab me. ?Another bloody American accent! You come here and think you can strut about, well, you are scum.? Thankfully, the woman next to me pushed her away. I left the bus as the American woman sat sobbing.
My family is merely American; In the eyes of many Ms Gould is guilty of the twin sins of being American and Jewish. She gives numerous examples of the sort of things such a person is subjected to in merrye olde Londonne Townne, and I'd be inclined to dismiss her account as a unique if not for the traveler?s reports I got last summer.
However, as Ms Gould stipulates:
I have lived in Europe for all of my adult life and from the day I arrived as a youngster have been aware of an oft-blatant anti-Semitism and resentment of Americans amongst colleagues, teachers, social circle and neighbors. What is significant about this rage is that it emanates not from the great unwashed but from the educated and intellectual classes.
This giving me hope that among those "unwashed" a shred of tolerance for others remains intact, leading me to believe that the problem isn't London, and reminding me that "educated" can also imply "poorly educated" - as in "the vast majority of leftists on both sides of the Atlantic are poorly educated, exceedingly gullible, and easily led.".
Which is how the American media once defined the American religious community. Building on that foundation, here's how the Euroleft describes it now:
Another mantra thrown at me daily these days is the news that the United States is one giant Fundamentalist Christian nation peopled by raging Bible-thumpers on every street. I have had otherwise enlightened colleagues tell me that the USA is ?running wild with religious extremism that threatens the world far more than bin Laden.?
Ironic then that they believe this without question.
Still, recognizing the disease is the first step to the cure; though hints of denial eek out in her writing the author still dances with the idea of recovery, here noting a possible cause:
I hesitate to blame my own profession, the media. However, the ?Guardian? ran a lead article by Faisal Bodi in January 2001 entitled ?Israel Simply Has No Right to Exist,? and on a daily basis Robert Fisk, whom my British friends and colleagues think is God, runs an ?Independent? piece brutally critical of the United States and Israel. I have stopped attending meetings of my trade union, the National Union of Journalists, because I cannot listen to incessant vitriol about the crimes of my native country, the United States and of Israel when we should be dealing with the problems unions are supposed to address.
Hesitate? Ah, to see someone on the edge of the slippery slope of truth, trying valiantly not to fall. It's not London, it's not the Brits, it's a morally bankrupt global left - and that's nothing new. The chains that bind you to your old alliances are imaginary. Slide Ms Gould, there are those who will catch you, and you've nothing to lose but your 'friends'.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 13, 2004 1:45 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com