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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.
Did I imagine this? No. Was the Englishwoman a crazy? No.
A few weeks before, I had attended a party at which I was lambasted, intimidated and mocked by a group of people I had known for some twenty-odd years. It reminded me of a comment made to me by an American expatriate shortly after 9/11: ?Now I know what the Jews felt like in pre-war Germany.?
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'.
I feel sorry for Ms. Gould. She deals with the same stuff I do every day, because I live in (or near, now) Berkeley. Shit, almost makes me want to re-enlist.
fPosted by Fred Schoeneman at October 13, 2004 05:13 PM
Perhaps we should just let Islam have Europe and then fence them out. America and Asia really don't need Europe.Posted by Walter Wallis at October 13, 2004 06:28 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)