Why the US election is everyone’s business

Jonathan Freedland: McCain or Obama? The US election result will have a huge impact on us | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Or, to use the actual headline, “This pansy-ass limey Brit won’t butt out — the US election is our business”: a response by Jonathan Freedland, who wrote this article three weeks ago in the Guardian, to the abusive and bigoted responses which followed. You can see my comment on both here, but here’s some of what Freedland received in his email:

In their thousands, Americans wrote to tell me they read my words not as a simple prediction of the consequences of an American decision broadly to maintain the Bush-Cheney approach — but as some kind of threat. I was not merely commenting on the US election, they said, but intervening in it, seeking to blackmail American voters with the threat of global ostracism (as if I’m in a position to issue such a threat).

The counterblasts featured all the usual themes familiar to any columnist or blogger who wades into this terrain. America had saved Europe’s “ass” twice before — and we would doubtless come bleating for help again when we inevitably sought rescue from the Muslim hordes imposing sharia law on London, Paris and Berlin. We can’t defend ourselves, of course, because we are limp-wristed “Euroweenies”, effeminate socialists whose own decline robs us of the right to say anything about the United States, which remains the greatest nation on earth.

Britain specifically forfeited the right to meddle in US affairs more than two centuries ago, when it lost the War of Independence. Besides, Obama is a Marxist, so Europe is welcome to him. One Bill07407 managed to capture the flavour of this virtual avalanche — including the curiously homoerotic undercurrent that runs through much rightwing American invective — with this effort: “If you want Comrade Obama we will gladly ship him over after he loses in a landslide. Meanwhile you can kiss my ass. I bet you would enjoy it faggot.” Equally reflective, this from bioguy777: “I love it! A pansy-ass limey Brit begs the US to do his bidding while his own country slips further towards total Islamic rule. We’re electing McCain, and the rest of the world can piss up a rope if they don’t like it. 1776, BITCH!”

His response is that the election is not just Americans’ business, because its result affects everybody: the wars in which other countries participate are started in the USA, the “credit crunch” and the difficulties it has caused in Europe were partly the fault of American financiers’ sloppy practices, and there is a global environmental emergency to which the USA is a substantial contributor. Personally, I don’t agree with his conclusion that the USA was ever supposed to be some sort of example to the world - there was always a whole lot of humbug in all the talk of freedom which overlooked the presence of millions of Black slaves - but I do share his objection to being rudely told to butt out when our country is supposed to be their ally and when it helped them out on several recent occasions.

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