Jonah Goldberg

Later this month I'm heading back to the mother country. Now, as I am a rich ethnic cocktail - Jewish, Lithuanian, Scottish, German, with probably some Polish or Ukrainian in there as well - you might think I mean any number of places (and if you're one of my many Jewphobic readers, you might think I mean Israel). But I mean jolly England - the headliner in the tag-team effort that is the Anglo-American tradition. I am an Anglophile, and I look to ol' Blighty as the wiser Romans surely looked upon the Greeks: as the fons et origo of our grand civilization.

I'm jumping the pond to partake in a debate at the Oxford Union on one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. Formally presented, it is: "This house regrets the founding of the United States of America."

The debate, timed to coincide the with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown as well as the Queen's American visit, might seem a tad ungrateful. In fact, I am sorely tempted to deliver my remarks in German, in order to put a fine point on the question. But my hope is that the rascals at Oxford Union are just being a bit playful.

In the same spirit, perhaps a better question to put before the house is whether Britain even exists anymore.

While doing my homework, I've been reading up on the goings-on over there, and there seems to be cause for grave concern. Exhibit A: the recent unpleasantness with Iran whereby 15 marines and sailors were captured by Iran and put on display as willing propaganda tools.

"Blasphemy itself could not survive religion," G.K. Chesterton observed, "if anyone doubts that, let him try to blaspheme Odin." Similarly, humiliation cannot survive the death of pride. So it was a hopeful sign that the British newspaper The Telegraph editorialized that Britain had been "humiliated" by the Iranians. At least the sting of pride can be felt in that lonely journalistic redoubt.

But looking to the British government itself, pride seems to be sorely lacking. The most outrage I could find from a government official came from Patricia Hewitt, the British Health Secretary, who called the spectacle "deplorable." Alas, she was referring to something else. She was infuriated "that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people." Imagine the outrage if those captured marines had been fed trans fats.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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