There'll Always Be an England

By Fields, Suzanne | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 23, 2000 | Go to article overview

There'll Always Be an England


Fields, Suzanne, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


There'll always be an England, and that's a comfort in a world whirling ever faster with change. We all need verities to hang on to.

The English invented wackiness, and the little old lady in tennis shoes, always thought to have originated in Pasadena, actually went to California from England. There's new proof.

A formal government body, the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, has delivered itself of recommendations on how to fix what may or may not be broke in British society, and it could only have sprung from the head of an English relative of that famous little old lady in Pasadena.

Kate Gavron is the wife of Lord Gavron, who contributed more than a million dollars to the Labor Party in the election that put Tony Blair in as prime minister. So Lady Gavron was appointed vice chairman of the commission to find out what it means to be English, and maybe even British.

Not much, the commission learned.

You could have fooled some of us. We've always associated England with Shakespeare, the Magna Carta, Lord Nelson and Trafalgar and all that. If you throw in the King James Bible and the Oxford English Dictionary of the language of the race of kings, pretty soon you're talking about a pretty impressive bit of the legacy of Western civilization. And I haven't even mentioned Monty Python, Benny Hill, Fawlty Towers and the Beatles.

But no. Britain must "revise, rethink or jettison" its history because much of it is bad and might hurt the feelings of a newcomer. Members of minorities were left out of a lot of the history (probably because they were not around at the time), and Britons should henceforth regard themselves not as a community but as "a community of communities." They should henceforth refrain from even regarding themselves as British, because the very word has "racist connotations." And "English" is even worse, how much worse you don't want to know.

Lady Gavron has a nifty idea for making race relations smooth overnight. "It would be great," she told the London Daily Telegraph, "if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone black. Imagine what that message would have sent out."

We can imagine. If the prince, or anyone else, wants to marry someone black, or pink or green, you might think a lady, particularly a Lady, would not expect him to conform to a quota system in intimate affairs of the heart. …

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