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February 20, 2014

Just lately we have been inundated with everything English ranging from the triumph of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan TV show 50 years ago to the success of the class-conscious Downtown Abbey TV show imported here for American audiences. Such English celebrations of success are facilitated by the fact that we have a common language and have been on the same side in World Wars I and II. We have also adopted their common law and other of their customs and folkways as part and parcel of our own. Indeed, I consider the Revolutionary War to actually have been an English Revolution fought on colonial soil since this war was fought long before wholesale immigration to this country. It was largely a matter of Englishmen fighting Englishmen, but on colonial soil. The motherland had already had its revolution and Cromwellian adventures.
I have heard many Americans put down the French unmercifully while worshipping at the throne of such as Winston Churchill and other icons in British history. These people have little good to say about French language, customs, law or politics. English good; French bad seems to be the ruling standard. Obviously there are heroes and intellectuals in virtually all Western societies, including the English and the French. Thus we have Voltaire for France, John Locke for England; Madame Curie for France, Isaac Newton for England etc. etc. Heroes and villains are available for discovery in most any society: Mandela-apartheid, Lincoln-slavery, Hitler-genocide etc.
I have a different view of the criteria to be used in determining who has been America’s better friend over the years. So we speak English and have adopted English common law. So? Had we been subject to the pope’s decree that assigned Brazil to Portugal and the rest of South America to Spain and he had decreed that we were awarded to Portugal, we would be speaking Portuguese and would be following Portuguese law, customs and folkways. Speaking the same language is no guarantee that someone is your friend; Hitler and German Jews spoke a common language, German, and he was certainly not their friend! Let’s get over these happenstances in history and judge who our friends are by their voluntary acts of friendship toward us. I’ll be more specific in Part II. Stay tuned. GERALD E


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