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Tales from an alternate reality

I read a very odd story a few days ago on Front Page Magazine called An American in London, in which Carol Gould recounts how she and other Americans have been repeatedly subjected to anti-American abuse in London.

What I find so frightening is that I cannot conduct business or even take a taxi ride in London, Bournemouth or Edinburgh without a scathing tirade about the scurrilous Yanks. The day after 9/11 I was obliged to keep a consultant’s appointment and the minicab driver informed me that the ‘yellow Americans’ on the four hijacked planes were typical of the way ‘the Yanks do battle’ — they chicken out and let the Brits do the dirty work.

Now the title of my article might suggest that I do not believe what she wrote to be true, but that is not what I am saying. If she says that is what people have said to her, then I will take her at her word. However I also know a significant number of Americans here in the UK and I am puzzled that they do not tell me that they have shared Carol Gould’s experiences. In fact a fellow Samizdatista who is an American, is living in my house most of the time and we often go out places in London both casually and for business and although we talk together (and thereby announce to all nearby that she is an American), I have yet to see her nationality pique the slightest bit of interest from anyone at all. Here in London Americans are like taxicabs… they are just normal part of the fabric of this enormous and most cosmopolitan of cities.

Now I realise that Anti-Americanism exists in Britain… hell, it exists in America (and amongst the same ilk of people generally), but I must say that Ms. Gould describes a Britain that bears very little relation to the one I see every day. No doubt if I actively sought out the people who despise all things American I could find them in so diverse a metropolis, but then I could say the same about almost any set of views. However I suspect I would say the same if I still lived in Manhattan (which I did… and moreover worked in the World Trade Center at the time).

Ms. Gould says she knows many other expat Americans with similar experiences to hers. Well all I can say is we clearly know a very different set of expat Americans then. In fact, we clearly encounter a very different set of British people as well. I do not know what circles Carol Gould moves in but I do not think she has heard the real England speak.

And that is why it seems to me that if we are both in London, then the two of us must be existing in alternate realities.

47 comments to Tales from an alternate reality

  • When I was in the UK this past April, I never had any problems from people who thought I was American. A couple of nasty looks (which I acknowledged with a nod and smile), but that’s about it.

    So I think Carol Gould’s experience, if she’s telling the truth, was a particularly extreme one. In her defence, though, she is a playwright – and the artsy circles in which she travelled were almost certainly more rabidly anti-American than most Britons.

  • GCooper

    Probably not alternate realites, Mr de Havilland, but alternate social circles, as Damian P suggests. If Ms Gould had the misfortune to find herself fallen among social workers, teachers, meejah-dahlings and other Guardian readers, she might well have formed such an opinion.

    Travelling around the country with an American a few weeks ago, I encountered no such prejudice either. Which is just as well as it would have made me more than slightly grumpy.

    These things are very often in the eye of the beholder anyway. When my parents first went to the USA, at the height of the IRA terror campaign, they claimed to have received an extremely frosty reaction in Boston to their Englishness. Perhaps they did, but I’d like to think it wasn’t as real as they thought.

  • Sydney

    I’ll second the point about the social circles. I’m Canadian, but lived in the ‘States for a long time and am generally assumed to be American unless I go out of my way to correct people.

    In almost any group of people in the UK this sort of behaviour would be unheard of… BUT, like Ms. Gould I work in the arts, and my boyfriend is a BBC journalist. In those circles, yes, I’m afraid the sort of really incredible hatred and ignorance she describes is the norm. I haven’t been to THAT kind of dinner party in ages, just because it really gets unpleasant– people will keep AT you to agree with them that Americans, as a people, are stupid and evil, and it does get tough to stay polite. I suspect like any clique they bond by identifying a common enemy, and unless met with grovelling apologies for one’s accent, resemble nothing more than a gaggle of high-school jocks confronted with a uppity geek. The eerie thing is that I get the impression large sections of the ‘intelligensia’ in the UK are close to forgetting that rational people with differing opinons even exist.

    The subject of Israel, thank heavens, hasn’t come up; but my ex is Israeli and I remember him saying that he didn’t even visit Europe if he could help it, because of the anti-Semitism. At the time I thought he was being over-sensitive but now I see his point.

    France is MUCH worse, though, I’ve actually been screamed at in the street by a total stranger in Paris, which I suppose is worse than being twittered at by an aquaintance over dinner.

  • Sydney

    Just re-read Gould’s article (as I ought to have done before I posted…). Although, as I said, I find much of it accords with my experience, the bit about not being able to ride a taxi was weird– I’ve NEVER been picked on in a cab, pub, or other civilized venue. And I don’t know where she’s getting her videos duplicated!

    Perhaps she’s just gotten jumpy meeting new people, from glad-handing with a load of grant-giving-and-receiving types– you do get jumped on every single time, so I suppose it can give an overwhelming flavour to a trip.

  • Perry’s experience is similar to mine. I have encountered plenty of anti-Americanism in the abstract in London in recent times, by which I mean people who want to tell me (as a non-American who is often assumed to share similar viewes) why George Bush is wrong in everything he does, why the war is wrong, why Americans are throught their actions causing more terrorism blah blah blah. What I have not seen even once is any individual American receing the sort of treatment in public simply for being an American that is described in the article. Which is not so say it doesn’t ever happen: I am sure it does. However, in the sorts of circles I move in, such incidents must be extremely isolated or I would have seen some of them.

  • jon

    Maybe that kind of thing is more common in those places with those other internets. George W. Bush may know more than he’s letting on.

    I haven’t been in Britain since 1990, and even as a twenty-year-old at university parties I never heard a bit of rabid anti-American sentiment. Sure, there were always those who didn’t like the then-President Bush, but the poll tax must have used up all that hatred that could have otherwise been targeted at Panamanian invasions and Israeli aid. The only strong complaint I heard about Americans was that we didn’t play well enough against Italy in the World Cup.

  • Is Ms. Gould a small woman?

    Could it be that people are more willing to mouth off like that to a small woman than they are to a big man?

    I’m not sure that Michael and Damian’s experience tells us anything. The people who hate America also think that American men are brutal ruffians.

    And frankly, they’re also cowards.

  • In fact a fellow Samizdatista who is an American, is living in my house most of the time

    Jackie go home!

  • Steven, then why does my female American biz partner not experience this sort of thing all the time as well? In fact, she is a highly opinionated anti-idiotarian, so you would think she would be a magnet for hostility… Sure, she has told me about meeting jerks who mouth off about the US amongst the Guardian reading classes occasionally but nothing like what Carol Gould reports. Gould seems to be saying that she can scarely walk down the street without being abused for being an American. Something is very odd here.

  • At an evening class on ancient Greece at Edinburgh University last week our lecturer made a silly anti-Bush remark. She was a PhD student in her late twenties who spoke with an upper class Oxbridge accent.

    I heard the sad news of Ken Bigley’s murder in a working class pub that was full of hard-drinking middle-aged males. The universal reaction was: “When are we going to nuke the bastards.”

  • lee

    I read this with some skepticism as well. I am an American (actually a tall American female, if that is significant) who frequently travels to London, and I have not encountered anything like this.

  • “Gould seems to be saying that she can scarely walk down the street without being abused for being an American.” This is not what she is saying, but this is how she apparently feels – two different things. She listed just a few isolated episodes, that may well not be representative of what is going on in the UK in general. But I have to admit that had I personally experienced only those few episodes she says she did, I would have felt exactly the way she did.

    Another point worth making is that most Europeans (and Americans for that matter) are not very prone to expressing negative feelings in other people’s faces. So those who actually dare to do so are usually a minority. The troubling thought is that this minority is expressing sentiments that may be shared by a much larger, um, minority.

    Also, I am much dissapointed by the fact that both the post and the comments are focusing almost entirely on the anti-American sentiments in the UK. What about the statements “Israel is not a country”, and “Jews don’t deserve a country”? I find these much more disturbing. Do these statements reflect the sentiments of some in Britain, and if they do, how many Brits do actually feel this way?

  • Julian Morrison

    There’s a certain sort of cowardly indirect bully whose modus operandi is a jocular or confronting conversation in which the victim is invited to disrespect themself by implication. The same sort who’d start a conversation with a pakistani about “them damn illegals bringing over their whole families, it’s bad isn’t it?” would hassle an american with “they’re all dumb, fat and greedy over there aren’t they?”.

    Since their game depends on the good manners of the victim, they’ll pick on the sort of person who looks like they’d cringe and mumble rather than snap back. Thus the confident self-assured types never meet them.

  • I noted this story as well, and I can say that I have never experienced anything like this in 6 years here..

    I think the key to the story may be found here:

    ” I attended a human-rights conference at my local synagogue in St John’s Wood. During the tea break …”

    And here:

    ” I have stopped going to meetings of my trade union, the National Union of Journalists, because I cannot listen to incessant vitriol about the crimes of my native country.”

    What do you reckon?

  • J

    Alisa: “What about the statements “Israel is not a country”, and “Jews don’t deserve a country”?”

    Well, the first statement is patently untrue. Go look at an atlas. But the second statement is not obviously true. You’d at least need to do some serious research until the history of the area to understand why Israel was created etc. etc. etc. After all, creating nations along ethic/religious lines doesn’t have a great record of ending happily.

    Hating Israel is fashionable amongst a certain set. Actually, I think loving Palestine is more fashionable, but since common enemies are useful for group bonding, it’s good to hate Israel as well.

    It has to be said that loving Israel and hating palestine is also fashionable amongst another set.

    Whether one of these groups of pseudo-intellectual fashionistas is somehow closer to realisty is irrelevant. *

    No likely palestinian atrocity will stop them being loved by Guardian readers, and no likely Israeli atrocity will stop them being loved by , errr, LGF readers. They are merely icons of our age. This must suck if you are either Israeli or Palestinian and hoping for a rant-free existence in the West. But otherwise, Israel and Palestine serve useful roles as cheerleaders for those of less independent mental abilities.

    However, the vast intellectual flaws evident in the thinking of these people shouldn’t stop us remembering that they may be perfectly competent in other areas. Remember that Isaac Newton believed in alchemy. Brilliant ideas in one branch of science isn’t incompatible to daft ones in another, and IME the same is true of politics. Just because you talk utter crap 1/2 the time doesn’t mean you never say anything worth listening to.

    I think this post had a point once but I forgot what it was. Damn.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Perry de Havilland
    RE: This Report

    I took this report with a grain of salt.

    Even so, if there are some Brits who despise Americans, well, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” [Note: Paraphrased.]

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

  • Also, I am much dissapointed by the fact that both the post and the comments are focusing almost entirely on the anti-American sentiments in the UK. What about the statements “Israel is not a country”, and “Jews don’t deserve a country”? I find these much more disturbing.

    Well Alisa, I happen to like Jews far to much to think they ‘deserve’ a country. No one ‘deserves’ a country. It is rather like ‘deserving’ chickenpox. The state is not your friend :-)

    And just for the record, I probably know as many Jews as I do Americans in the UK and I think the article is just as bizarre on that count as well. That said, not that many people in the UK that I know are pro Israel. Or even anti-Israel for that matter. Most people I know are fairly indifferent about the issue…

    …but that has nothing to do with how Jews are treated in day to day civil interactions on the streets of Britain (what with British Jews ≠ Israeli in most people’s mind). Of course if a person takes a vocal pro-Israel position in the UK, they will probably correctly deduce their views are not shared by most people.

  • Perry, your first point is taken with a note attached: a “state” is not the same as a “country”. Even a libertarian like you must aknowledge the difference, no?:-)

    As to the gist of that article being realistic or not, it seems that the truth is somewhere in the middle, and the “depends on the social circles” explanaition makes the most sense to me. That conclusion still leaves me feeling uncomfortable, as it seems that the circles in which such sentiments exist are the most influential, (or at least the most vocal) ones. (color me surprised).

  • llamas

    I was in UK in April with my wife. She speaks with your basic Midwestern Flat twang, I speak MidAtlantic but with a pretty strong American accent.

    Noone was rude to our faces, in fact, quite the opposite, and many people were friendly and interested to talk with us.

    We did overhear, however, several instances of the most casual yet intense anti-American expressions – not the typical arrogant ‘bloody Yanks’ nonsense of 30 years ago, but really specific stuff, most of it verging on conspiracy-theory moonbattery. I’m sure that the people saying this sort of thing had the slightest idea that we were there.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Delmore Macnamara

    I would bet money that most of this abuse (if genuine) came from socialist rather than reactionary opponents of the war & American dominance.

    We Little Englanders have the mental capacity to distinguish opposition to a nation’s foreign policy & cultural or racial hatred toward its citizens.

    On the other hand, Marxists & their fellow-travellers have relied upon ad hominem arguments for so long that they are no longer able to make the same distinction.

  • I have been living here in the UK off & on since 1971 and I have not experienced much anti-American prejudice (except from SWS retards at Uni, but they don’t really count). I have had a few heated discussions about American government policy, but then again I do tend to hang around political hacks and anoraks.

    I think this woman actively looked for prejudice…and she must have tried really hard.

    In fact, most people, to my occasional annoyance, want to find out where “I am from” in the US. This is, of course, a rather tough question for me since I don’t consider myself from anywhere in the US. I hold an American passport, that is about as far as it goes. The above is especially the case anywhere outside of London.

  • I believe it. A friend told me about how a London cab driver refused to let him in his cab because he was American.

    In France, of course one does run into any number of screaming anti americans (Its a racist thing over there, you know-Les Anglo-Saxons).

    I’m sure that in the early years of the Nazis Germany was an OK place for most Jews. After all, many of them used to say that they were only against the ‘Finanzjuden” the same way that today’s Euro-Bigots claim they are only against Bush or the Neocons or the Zionists, or the Texans.

  • S. Weasel

    I’ve never experienced the slightest anti-American rudeness in the UK. Not intentional rudeness, anyhow. I admit, I find it pretty amusing that Londoners universally seem to assume I’m a lefty and I, too, hate George Bush with a flame-like intensity. But they’re making cheery conversation about it, so I do a lot of nodding and smiling.

    It’s also pretty funny when people make Deliverance jokes at me without troubling to find out that, errrr…actually, yes, I was born in the Appalachian mountains and, as a matter of fact, I do play the banjo. To be fair, that happens in Boston, too. (In my own defense, I’ve never had sex with a family member, not even one that isn’t technically blood kin)

    Nobody has ever brought up Jews or Israel to me, and I think I’d be pretty shocked if someone did.

  • I take you are married, then;-P

  • “I’m sure that in the early years of the Nazis Germany was an OK place for most Jews. After all, many of them used to say that they were only against the ‘Finanzjuden” the same way that today’s Euro-Bigots claim they are only against Bush or the Neocons or the Zionists, or the Texans.”

    A Godwin violation! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

    It’s just plain nuts to suggest that today’s Britain is in any way comparable to Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Friendly advice from one US expat over in the Nazi Republic of Britain – keep the paranoia under control, why don’t you? One would think Texans and “neo-cons” had an easy time of it in the Upper West Side or the Village, reading your post.

  • Verity

    There seems to be a deep-rooted belief among leftist Brits and Europeans that America is ‘a young country’ and isn’t experienced in the ways of the world. Yet the US is older than most countries on earth, and than some countries in Europe, and has managed to become the most powerful nation in the history of our planet.

    The British and French left, prefer to believe that this happened by unaccountable accident. It is indeed the left that harbours the virulent, deadly, spiteful hatred of the US, because they know that they are the only ones qualified to run the earth. They are the only ones holding the rules book for the new world order. And the Americans don’t seek their opinion. It must be maddening.

    Meanwhile, everyone else is planning their second or third trip to Florida.

  • Carol Gould just had a Pauline Kael moment. That’s all.

  • Nancy

    Iain Murray comments about this article in The Edge of England’s Sword blog. The “depends on who you’re with” explanation basically wraps it up, from my personal experience.

    No disprespect to Spacer’s friend, but is he sure there wasn’t something else going on with that cab driver? I hate to think of the money I’ve spent on cabs in the past. I’ve never once been turned down after the driver heard my accent. I’m guessing it would be financial suicide for London cab drivers to adopt that attitude; surely a significant percentage of income comes from tourists.

    If the bus incident happened as the writer described it, it’s the son of the English shrew I feel sorry for. How embarrassing to have one’s mother carrying on like that, in public! He’ll probably grow up to be a neo-con, just to spite her.

  • The hostility towards Jews and Americans in Europe today is totally out of control. Perhaps those synagogues that were burned down in France and England were just imaginary socially constructed edifices.

    The Nazis are not coming back to Europe, Pogroms perhaps, but not Nazis.

  • John Ellis

    Before someone invokes Godwin’s law, let’s get back on topic…(I know, spoilsport…)

    Delmore said:

    We Little Englanders have the mental capacity to distinguish opposition to a nation’s foreign policy & cultural or racial hatred toward its citizens.

    On the other hand, Marxists & their fellow-travellers have relied upon ad hominem arguments for so long that they are no longer able to make the same distinction.

    Ignoring the “if you aren’t UKIP you must be a Commie” rant, the first sentence defines the issue beautifully. Anti-Bush is not anti-American. Even anti-Republican is not anti-American.

    People (not only Marxists) can get carried away with the former and it can sound a bit like the latter, especially if one is pre-disposed to victimhood. Same goes for Israel and Palestine, probably…

  • Bombadil

    My two cents:

    I lived near Greenham Common for a couple of years back in 1991-93, and my mother lived in a little village near Huntingdon until just a couple of years ago. I went to visit her half a dozen times, staying for a couple of weeks each visit.

    Having grown up (largely) in Oklahoma and Texas, my southern accent is distinct – and it is the American southern accent which Europeans seem to associate as being most representative of “American” speech.

    In all that time in the UK, I only had three incidents which I would consider to have been provoked by my nationality, and all were far more minor than those described in this article.

    On the whole, the English and Scottish people I met seemed more reserved than Americans in general. These screaming public confrontations just don’t seem very plausibly “English” to me.

  • Nancy

    Bombadil – You have clearly never resided in Lambeth.

  • You’re all busted for getting this far without quoting Heinlein. Luckily for you, I found this. Important part: “… why are the people of the United States and their government always the villains in the eyes of the revisionists? Why can’t our enemies–such as the king of Spain, and the kaiser, and Hitler, and Geronimo, and Villa, and Sandino, and Mao Tse-tung, and Jefferson Davis–why can’t these each take a turn in the pillory? Why is it always our turn?”

  • Guy Herbert

    spacer – “Perhaps those synagogues that were burned down in France and England were just imaginary socially constructed edifices.”

    No; but the idea that hostility towards Jews and Americans is “out of control” in one undifferentiated place called Europe is socially constructed in the minds of Americans from unrepresentative reports. Americans would be equally perplexed if British perspectives on American life were informed only by Woody Allen films, and we assumed all the US was a built-up area full of introspective neurotics. Britain is very different from France. At least as different as it is from America.

    There is anti-Semitism here, but it is very limited. Actual attacks on synagogues (let alone people) are rare, probably about on a par with attacks on mosques, and only somewhat less than attacks on churches. Such events are differentially reported.

    There is anti-Americanism here, too. It’s much wider spread than anti-Semitism, and much less intense, closer in most cases to grumbling resentment. I don’t know of any cases of people being seriously physically assaulted for being American.

    My guess is that this is actually just a clash of cultures. One can imagine that a American Jewish woman of the liberal persuasion, highly skilled and attuned in the arts of victimhood that a certain strand of US academia teaches so well, could take the banter and fun-poking common in ordinary British society, and the continual comic irony of our idiom, as vicious personal abuse. She may have met someone reall rude and nasty; but I’ve myself inadvertently upset Americans (and noticeably more earnest liberal ones) while trying to be friendly.

  • Graham Asher

    I was interested in the remark

    “There seems to be a deep-rooted belief among leftist Brits and Europeans that America is ‘a young country’ and isn’t experienced in the ways of the world. Yet the US is older than most countries on earth, and than some countries in Europe, and has managed to become the most powerful nation in the history of our planet.”

    Two points are obvious – first, why does it matter to some people whether a country is young or old, and secondly, what does that mean exactly?

    It obviously does matter – almost every naive nationalist will stress the antiquity of their nation. Icelanders bore on about having the oldest parliament in the world, while their detractors point out that they have only been independent (and thus had a real parliament that actually mattered, this time round) for about 60 years. (Example chosen at random. Yes, I like Iceland and Icelanders and have been there. Don’t be so touchy, everybody.) But continuity need not be continuity of excellence, even if it does exist.

    Revisionist historians of the United States would place its founding at 1865 – what we have at the moment is United States release 2.0, after the earlier slave-holding aristocracy split apart in bloody war. (Not my view, so please don’t argue against it – I am aware of a whole menu of alternative views to choose from, anyway.)

    But yes, inasmuch as the basic consitutional settlements of the US and UK have survived without external conquest or (successful) internal revolution for over two centuries they are in effect anciens régimes compared to nearly all the other major nations.

    The important thing among a country’s political class and people at large is, of course, not ‘experience of the ways of the world’ but experience of the ways of the free world, by which I mean liberal democracies with freedom of speech, free trade and little corruption. There are too many genuine ‘old countries’ with an oversupply of sly and knowing techniques learnt over the centuries.

  • And right on topic, the Social Affairs Unit‘s (free) online read:

    British Anti-Americanism.

    You can grab a pdf as well.

    Ah, I just had a “my little salesman” moment.

  • atlas

    Wow. That ‘real England Speaks’ link is amazing and for me, it is the real clincher for who to believe. We have the subjective perceptions of Carol Gould on one hand, and we have the photographic evidence of Perry de Havilland on the other. Case closed.

  • Graham:

    1865 was a patch, maybe a recompile, but not a new install.

  • Well, triticale, if we’d kings to behead, maybe it would’a come out different-like.

  • Verity

    Graham, I made my point about the United States being, as countries go, quite a mature party because its perceived youth is used as a weapon against it by weaker countries with a chip on their shoulders.

    This is what gives the French their uppity “We have so much more experience in international diplomacy” than the young, naive Americans. (BTW, how old is the Fifth Republic?) This mantra is used by the French to oppose the United States on every single issue: the Americans are too infantile to know what they’re doing. Leave it to older, wiser, infinitely more corrupt heads who understand how things are done … Blah blah blah. So, I ask again, with all this naivety swirling around, how did the United States manage to become the most powerful military and economic force in history?

    I’ve lived in several countries and I have yet to see a native of those countries being frogmarched by US marines into Blockbuster Videos to rent a three-for-two special, or being forced at gunpoint to dial the number for Pizza Express. (“And order at least one extra topping and extra cheese or you’re a dead man, Rahul.”)

    Like others above, I simply do not believe Carol Gould is reporting her conversation without embellishment. I don’t believe the man at the video store talked to her like that. The phraseology and the inflections are all wrong. I have never heard a previously a friendly British person (she’d been having her videos duped at this man’s store for quite some time, apparently, as I read it) suddenly lashing out in this phony, theatrical tone of voice completely out of idiom.

  • Tom

    I was a student at the LSE for the 2002-2003 schoolyear (my year abroad from Georgetown). There was definitely anti-American hostility in class. Of course, that’s to be expected when at the LSE. But I never got the feeling that it was personal. I never really had any problems in London, or anywhere else in Europe, even during the run-up to the war, and the prosecution of the war itself (which coincided exactly with the length of my spring break). The only time I ever felt uncomfortable was a drunk man in Barcelona who yelled at me “Fuck Bush.” But that’s it.

  • DavidBruno

    My two euros worth on a comparison with the European mainland: I am a Brit who lives in Belgium and who has, in discussions with Belgian friends, supported the war with Iraq which has generally put me in a tiny minority. These discussions have been heated but have never got personal about the British although there have been lots of very derogatory comments about Bush and his ‘poodle’ Blair etc etc.

    However, there has been a huge rise in visible and physical anti-semitism in Belgian and Dutch cities (notably Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rotterdam) over the last 3 years with many attacks on synagogues, Jewish cultural centres and schools and school children. In fact the chief Rabbi of Brussels was viciously assaulted in the street in Brussels last year. A Jewish American friend of mine with a restaurant in Brussels was last year assaulted in her restaurant by two men who held her against the wall and shouted ‘Dirty Jew’ in her face while smashing things.

    I am also gay and have noted a similarly very dramatic increase in attacks on homosexuals in Belgian and Dutch cities. I myself have been threatenned on leaving gay bars on several occasions.

    There is little doubt that much of this upsurge in violence has been from some elements within the Muslim community – usually groups of young men who seem to take literally the messages that get pumped out of some Benelux mosques about Jews and homosexuals being ‘filthy pigs’. Something that the late Pim Fortujn also noted….

    I cannot imagine the same circumstances taking root in the UK in the same way. Yes, there is a nasty sneering anti-Americanism (and anti-Israel sentiment) among some of the British left but the physical violence towards Jews is not occuring in the same way as in parts of continental Europe.

    I think Ms Gould must be very unlucky in terms of the people she mixes with – quite frankly, I would not have stood and allowed myself to be insulted for 20 minutes while having my videos copies but would have taken my business elsewhere.

  • On September 11 2001, I was driven home by Black Cab free, because I was an American. I offered to pay him and the man burst into tears; refusing even a tip.

  • I have met Carol Gould, totally by coincidence, and found her a perfectly pleasant woman. But as an American who has lived in the UK for several years, her piece does not ring true to me. At all.

    As Scott Burgess pointed out, Ms Gould seems to hang out with the sort of people who tend to be very anti-American. Perhaps it is because I studiously avoid such cretins, but I very rarely encounter the kinds of incidents she reports. (Indeed, I have even ended friendships with people who, as I learned after September 11 and in the run up to the war in Iraq, turned out to hold such views.)

    But the bus incident in particular is unbelievable almost to the point of hilarity. I am not calling her a liar, but as Perry says, she and I must be living in alternate realities.

  • Geeze, people, if you’re going to call the woman a liar — which is clearly, if ludicrously, the majority opinion — do so and be done with it. This cutsey-footsy “alternative reality” crap is sickeningly disingenuous.

    Myria

  • With respect to the much earlier question re: Ms. Gould being a small woman… I cannot speak to Ms. Gould’s stature. However, I am an American woman who is 5’5″ and thin. I was in London for a week at the beginning of August, and nowhere was I greeted with the type of behavior she describes. I rode taxis. I ate out alone in restaurants, as well as going out to bars and restaurants with British colleagues. Everyone I had contact with was minimally polite and most often friendly. We even swapped “stereotyping” stories, in which the British would share with me stupid things Americans had said about the British, and I would share with them similar experiences regarding Americans, such as how an Englishman once asked me if it was true that all Americans carried guns. All in all, I had a great time. I don’t doubt that such experiences do occur. I do, however, suspect that when one is traveling in financial circles (a la me), one doesn’t meet with them as frequently as one does when traveling in artsy circles.

    Oh, I’m also Jewish. I wasn’t faced with any anti-semitism either.

  • Sharon

    Alisa if you see this respond