Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not So Smug Britons

One of the first signs, to me at least, of a degree of anti-Americanism in a person is when they attack Yanks for not knowing that Ulam Bator is the capital of Mongolia, or that the River Keer runs through Carnforth, England. I then usually point out that the U.S.A. is the size of Europe so we are not comparing like with like. This survey, for National Geography Week, shows that there are plenty of dense Britons too.

The other thing that really riles me is when Britons self-flagellate over our perceived lack of foreign language skills. The answer to that is that we are just as skilled as any other people but which language do we learn? Dutch? German? Mandarin maybe or French? Then how often do we get to practice and use it? The problem, if there is one, is that English, like it or not, is a universal language. If German was the universal language we would be fluent in German as others are now in English, from necessity.

In Paraguay in 1991 we met a girl who worked at the airport who was learning English. She decided to be different at college and learned French because all the others were learning English. It was a mistake, she never got to use French as the world seemed to all speak English, she was then catching up.

10 comments:

Steve Allison (UKIP Councillor) said...

Hi Greg, well I've got to admit to a degree of anti-Americanism myself mainly due to my personal experiences that the Yanks only recognise two kinds of people in the world. These being Americans and NOT Americans! Ultimately despite all "special relationships" and the like we are NOT Americans and therefore not really important. I have met many, many Americans I have like as individuals and would be happy to call my friends but as a nation I am afraid I do not admire their lifestyles or attitudes to the rest of the world.

Gregg Beaman said...

How many of the 300m or so Yanks have you met to reach such a conclusion Steve?

While I have no wish for us to become the 51st state the kind of anti-Americanism I mean, and you have admitted to a dgree of, would prompt screams of 'racism' if any other nation/race on earth was talked about with such sweeping generalisations.

That was my point really.

Derek Bennett EU-Sceptic said...

An American I know and keep in touch with by e-mail, was sent to my neck of the woods (Walsall) to work for twelve months. At the time our regular watering hole, the Broadway pub, had been closed by the brewery for refurbishment (total destruction!) and we all decamped to the bar in the hotel where Mike, the American, was staying. He soon became a regular member of the group of friends and we have all stayed in touch with him since he returned home to the USA.

There must be something about this little country of ours which the Yanks find apealing, so many of them when they have lived here for a time seem to become very pro-British, as did Mike, who returns to see us every chance he gets - which isn't often enough for him. Not even spending a year in Walsall could put him off, and that is saying something!

They take to our pubs, our beer, our way of living, and in my experience, when they find out how the EU operates, they imediately wonder what the hell we are doing as members.

So, my modest experience of the Americans is that generally they are good folk who just need a little education about the UK and the serious EU problem. They are also a nation that will deserve all our sympathy when Obama gets going. So in the style of Noel Coward: lets not be beastly to the Americans.

Gregg Beaman said...

I agree Derek.

But I am glad Steve dissented, I was worrying my blog was becoming too bland!

Steve Allison (UKIP Councillor) said...

Hi Greg, well I must admit my sample is very small compared to 300m total population. However my view is not based on the behavior of individual yanks. As I said I've met more individual Yanks I've liked as people than not. I do of course exclude US Border and Immigration Officers in this as almost universally in my experience they are sullen, condescending and arrogant. Its a range of things from re-writing history (who was it who cracked the Enigma Codes and captured the decoding machine? According to Hollywood it was the USA!), Hollywood is full of examples where the British are the villains, almost any film by Mel Gibbson coming to mind, look at American foreign policy over the past 100 years (foreign to them being us of course!) and it becomes very clear that the USA is not that great a friend to us. Their policy in the Pacific after the defeat of Japan being a perfect example, they excluded us totally from any involvement, go back further to their policy after the first world war, which was to destroy the British Empire, the IRA were funded for years by Irish Americans (and others) giving a "dollar to kill a British Soldier" in pubs and bars around Boston. It's not the American People I dislike its the foreign policy pursued by their government. I also don't think its necessarily racist. If I absolutely had to choose between the USA and the EU then I would come down on the side of the EU. Overall though I'd rather build a strong Commonwealth but destruction of that has been one thing both the EU and the USA have had in common for decades.

Gregg Beaman said...

One thing Steve-Hollywood is make belief-it's not real!

My worst experience of sullen border guards was Nicaraguan ones, 12 year old kids with Kalashnikovs who treated you like shit.

On the question of IRA support yes, bad news. But I can take you into any number of pubs in Manchester where there were regular, and still may be, collections for 'the old country' so we need to be careful pointing the finger.

I don't claim your views are racist, sorry if that's how it sounded, I mean that is the accusation levelled by the PC brigade at people who say similar about eg Pakistan or Kenya.

Steve Allison (UKIP Councillor) said...

Hi Greg,

Not got a problem with anything you said mate. However I have realised there is one huge, glaring mistake in my last post which I only spotted after it went up on your blog. Almost right at the end I say "If I absolutely had to choose between the USA and the EU then I would come down on the side of the EU." Actually that should say

If I absolutely had to choose between the USA and the EU then I would come down on the side of the USA.

The cheese eating surrender monkeys on the other side of the channel are no friends of mine! Well actually its similar to the Yanks, I've met lots of French people I've liked as individuals I just don't like them en-mass!

Gregg Beaman said...

Thank God for that Steve, I was worrying a little bit I must say. Don't think we're actually that far apart then. Goes to show what a bit of grown up discussion can do, if you can call me and thee grown up!

Derek Bennett EU-Sceptic said...

I have to agree with Steve re Hollywood's version of history, I think more changes have been made to the history books and facts relating to history in tinseltown than in Communist Russia - and that's saying something. I mean to say, they all thought the gun toting Charlton Heston was the person most suited to represent God in their films, we all know God is an Englishman! So come on.

Although I like the Yanks, I can often spit nails when I am watching some of their films - in fact I won't watch films such as Enigma - that really is a bloody insult.

The funny thing is, my MP who never fails to make a sarcastic comment when we meet, that is if he can make the effort to acknowledge me, is married to a lady from Missouri, and what a nice, charming lady she is too. She always asks how my wife, Linda, and I am when we meet and always has a good chat - not like him - mind you, he is a Welshman. Now there's a race we can all moan about!

Gregg Beaman said...

I wouldn't disagree with either of you about Hollywood.