Disturbing as It May Be, the Sad Truth Is That Many People throughout the World DO Hate America and What She Stands For

Daily Mail (London), September 15, 2001 | Go to article overview

Disturbing as It May Be, the Sad Truth Is That Many People throughout the World DO Hate America and What She Stands For


By Phillip Knightley A LEADING FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT Disturbing as it may be, the sad truth is that many people throughout the world DO hate America and what she stands for FIVE years ago Hollywood produced a spate of movies about attacks on Earth by aliens from other planets. The most extreme of these films was Independence Day. In it, alien spaceships station themselves over every major city - and then blast them to pieces.

The movie had been on general release only a few weeks when word filtered back to Hollywood that when New York was pulverised to dust, the audience in cinemas across Europe burst into cheers. The producers were left wondering: 'Why New York?' The answer to this question might provide us with a clue to the amazing turnaround that seems to be happening in some sections of our society in the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attack on the twin towers of New York's World Trade Centre.

The first 48 hours brought a wave of sympathy for the victims and outrage against the perpetrators.

Londoners queued to sign books of condolence.

Listeners to radio phone-ins heard Britons emphasising their close ties of blood, language and culture with Americans and their horror at the images of devastation on their television screens.

Government ministers lined up to tell the nation that we stood shoulder to shoulder with our American cousins in this terrible hour. Nothing was ruled out.

Briton was prepared to go all the way with the U.S.A.

Then something happened.

Almost overnight, another emotion crept in. On the special edition of BBC's Question Time on Thursday evening, a surprising number of people in the audience said, in effect: 'Serves American right.' People remembered that this

was the first time in American history that the U.S. mainland had been attacked, and noted the panic that the bombing seemed to have caused - all borders closed, all aircraft grounded, military on top alert, the President shuttling around the country from Florida to Louisiana to Strategic Air Command in Nebraska, home to the nuclear bunker.

Many recalled the bravery and stoicism that Britain displayed during the Blitz. Others pointed out that Britain - and many other countries - had been living with terrorist attacks for years. The IRA bombing in Brighton, which came close to killing not only Mrs Thatcher but many of her Cabinet, did not close the country down.

Life went on as normal.

They also noted that one of the main sources of funding for IRA terrorism had been its sympathisers in the U.S.

This sort of mild anti-Americanism could be summed up as: 'You've been lucky for so long. …

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