Magazine article The Spectator

Hostile Reception

Magazine article The Spectator

Hostile Reception

Article excerpt

Some of Britain's finest fruitcakes appeared in Love and Hate, Where Britain Meets America (Monday), a hugely enjoyable Radio Four documentary. There was Saddam Hussein's friend, the left-wing Labour MP George Galloway; the often hysterically anti-American Harold Pinter; a peculiar Labour peer called Lord Desai, described as a `respected left-wing economist' (surely a double oxymoron?) and a barking woman civil servant. Normally these are among the people one least likes to hear on the radio, but somehow their presence this time was pure bliss and one would not have missed them for the world. The programme, presented and produced by Stephen Smith, an American National Public Radio journalist, set out to explore the hatred of America that some people in Britain possess.

First Galloway, who swallows most of the lies put out by Saddam's regime, described his attitude to the US and the war against terrorism: `America is a giant but its political class often seems to have the mind of a child. And a giant with the mind of a child is very dangerous, not only to those among whom he roams but to himself.' Then Desai, who seemed to resent having to sympathise with the victims of 11 September: `When Americans die . . . we all have to stand up and take it, terrorism, very seriously. But lots of other people have died in terrorism and it's all right.' No it isn't, you silly peer.

Smith reminded us that, on the day before 11 September, Pinter had delivered a speech in Italy in which he described the US as the most dangerous power the world has ever known, the authentic rogue state. Goodness, I didn't realise that the US was more dangerous than Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany and Pol Pot's Cambodia, to name but three. Pinter also expressed 'a profound revulsion and disgust' at American power. As for 11 September, he was `not happy about it' and wasn't `attempting to excuse it' which was jolly decent of him, I thought. However, 'I believe this act was historically inevitable... I'm just saying it is explicable if you look back on the domination of the world by the United States . . .' Osama couldn't have put it better. I'd stick to the interminable pauses if I were you.

Then we heard the views of some women at a civil-service equestrian club in central London. Referring, presumably to all Americans, one told Smith, `They're arrogant, insular and ignorant.' Warming up, she went on, `The world is run for America by America. …

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