By Thomas, Mark
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 131, No. 4597
Over the past year, Britain has seen such a fantastic increase in anti-Americanism that I really feel there should be prizes, or at least badges, to hand out for this great effort. Not in the old Soviet style of badges of dead politicians' faces; I think it is time for badges of politicians we would like to see dead: like a tie pin with Dick Cheney clutching his chest. Or one of those commemorative plates engraved with Bush in an autoerotic asphyxiation! pretzel incident, toppling, statesmanlike, from the desk in the Oval Office.
A few weeks ago, I appeared on a Newsnight debate with William Shawcross, ex-Ho Chi Mm cheerleader and now right-wing man of tweed; and Tom Reid, the European correspondent for the Washington Post. They argued that anti-Americanism is the product of our jealousy of the US. Jealous of what, exactly? Jealous of a political leader who at times can barely string a sentence together? Of course not, we have John Prescott, for a start. But do we secretly harbour a desire to have a deputy leader who is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and sued for his time as chief executive and chairman of the Halliburton Company? Do we long for a political system where hoards of MPs are financed by a corporation that goes belly up after being lied about by its auditors and sucked dry by its directors? If we are jealous of the American way of life, then the anti-American majority in Britain actually craves the highest obesity rate in the world. They want to own handguns and run major sporting events calle d the World Series without inviting any other country to take part. Our deepest desire must be to see people in Britain paying for private health insurance.
Anti-Americanism, according to Shawcross, really comes from the liberal media elite, as if north London is full of Prada-wearing hacks screeching, "Darling, anyone who is anyone simply loathes the Yanks. America is sooo last millennium." But if they, too, are secretly jealous of the US, then Hampstead can't wait for the reintroduction of the death penalty, or to see channel after channel of screaming TV evangelists calling homosexuals Satan's semen-drenched acolytes. Tom Reid argues that anti-Americanism is the product of European countries no longer having an empire and hating America's superpower status. Surely the anti-war movement doesn't want an empire, nor does it want to kill as many civilians as America does. …