Letter to a British Friend

Here's an e-mail I sent to a British friend this morning. Earlier in the week I had a long conversation with him about the presidential election. Although he is a pro-business conservative, he often regurgitates MSM talking points when discussing American politics.

It's not his fault. It's what he gets from the British press.

Like many, if not all of my British friends, he assumes that because I'm a Republican, I'm some kind of reactionary, religious nut (if only I did go to church more often...). Again, I can't blame him. It is only what he reads and sees of Republicans in the British press.

The irony is that in many ways I am probably more liberal than he is. Yet still I get all the jokes about hunkering down in my "bunker" preparing for the nuclear holocaust.

Actually, my conversations with various Brits and Europeans about American politics are insightful, and certainly not a little amusing. Obama as Cicero and Bush the Befuddled often makes for good comedic relief.

But it does say something about the wide chasm between the American and European worldviews that people who have many reasons to agree on politics can approach this election from such different positions.

Unfortunately for my friend, he has never heard much of Reverend Wright, the Woods Foundation, Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorn, Chicago machine politics, Obama's resume, Obama's capital gains hike proposal, attacking Pakistan, Obama's health care proposal, "being punished with a child", and a thousand other things which I'm sure he would find abhorent. Rather, he is focused on Obama's "eloquence", having never seen or heard an unscripted moment.

Anyway... enjoy.

BTW, since we spent eight years listening to laughable assertions from Europeans about Bush's religion, let's do a little test. We have here what I'll call a "teachable moment".

The nutty, left wing blogs have dredged up a quote by Sarah Palin about "creationism". I won"t go into the details, but let's agree that she she doesn't and never has advocated teaching that in schools, which happens to be true. (Teaching creationism in public schools is so far out of the mainstream of American political thought that no successful politician would ever advocate such a thing.) The creationist theme was then picked up by left leaning pundits at mainstream news outlets to use as a stick to beat Palin. Today I see the story is being reported as serious news in the UK.

Now... this is exactly how the "Bush thinks God told him to attack Iraq" story progressed. Virtually everyone in America knew the genesis of that story and scoffed at it. But for years afterwards, Brits and Europeans were still taking it at face value. There are numerous examples of this type of thing, and not just as it applies to religion in America (can you say "eloquence"?).

So here's our teachable moment. Your homework is to watch this Palin as creationist story infiltrate the mind set of your fellow countrymen. Observe how it is reported by the BBC as fact. Notice how it is used to reinforce the perception that Republicans are the party of dangerous, religious nuts. And if in two years people in your country are still using this "fact" about Palin in conversation, I hope we can agree that many of the views held by Brits about American politics are based on stories that are generated by political partisans in the US and then transformed into legitimate news by the European press.

And frankly, that is why when Americans hear Europeans talking about our politics, it often seems so absurd. Politics in America is a hometown sport and everyone knows a lot about it (those convention speeches drew TV audiences bigger than the Super Bowl!) When we hear Europeans voicing opinions on our politics, it sounds EXACTLY like CNN, which a lot of us think is a pretty big joke (they promote the positions of the Democrat Party, what Fox does for the Republicans).

Anyway, keep yours eyes and ears open on the Palin thing. There will be a test!


Terry Cowgill

12:58 PM

Can you shoot me a link about Palin and the creationism story? If it's not true that she advocated teaching creationism in public schools, then it's really quite disgraceful that the MSM ran with the story.


10:18 AM

Yeah, I'd like to see where that comes from -- either the "nutty left" version or the evidence that it's not true. Till then, I'll keep an open mind. But Terry (re your comment on your blog), one does not have to "throw Darwin to the wind" to be wrong on this issue.


11:36 AM

Well, I did a little googling on my own. In a debate, she said, "Teach both" [creationism and evolution], though in a follow-up interview she stated she would not "push" for the teaching of creationism in public schools.

I give her credit for at least having the wisdom to backpedal! Personally, I'm not for someone who believes that creationism is legitimate enough to be taught alongside evolution, even if she wouldn't (we hope) shove it down our kids' throats.