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Letters to the editor

Readers write on the relationship between the British and Americans, how the Chinese see Obama, and Iran.

November 5, 2009

Transatlantic love

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In regard to the Oct. 18 opinion piece, "The ally the British love to hate;" I am a fan of the columns written by Walter Rodgers. Yet I am troubled by this column with its tone of negativity leveled toward the British.

Yes, on occasion I have found myself offended by some of my contacts with the Brits, but I have also experienced their extraordinary hospitality.

Though we share a common language, we have a distinct national culture, and both of us, no doubt, can learn to better appreciate each other's heritage. Both of our nations face daunting challenges in this 21st century, and now is the time for forbearance in our comments about each other.


Portland, Ore.

The Britain Mr. Rodgers portrays is one I simply do not recognize – in spite of having lived here for the best part of a century (and my ancestors before me) in London, the countryside, and in a provincial city. It would appear that Rodgers had singularly unfortunate experiences during his time here, which can only be regrettable.

The Guardian newspaper, of course, has a defined outlook; but there are other national newspapers, which would also claim to be highbrow, that take an opposite stance. Also, I can assure Rodgers that for every thoughtless teenage boy there were millions of adults who were horrified and deeply grieved by the 9/11 atrocity.

And I believe most people would deplore a physical assault on anyone, especially a guest; but in Rodgers's case the attacker was clearly unbalanced.

It is true that we sometimes laugh at the Americans but we also laugh at ourselves, at the French especially, and at other assorted nationalities; it is something we do, not necessarily with malicious intent.

What is equally true is that freedom of speech in Britain has been so severely curtailed as a result of unlimited immigration and the fear of causing offense that it is unwise to speak out even against terrorists lest one breaks the law.

There is much to be deplored in modern Britain. I should like to apologize to Rodgers on behalf of my countrymen who have let the side down. I can only hope that if he ever returns to these islands, he will have happier encounters. He is welcome to join me for a cup of tea.


Bottisham, Cambridge, England

British attitudes toward the US are often shaped – for better or worse – by political decisions. Tony Blair's decision to follow George W. Bush into Iraq did foster anti-Americanism in the UK after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.