Well, in case you've missed it, the Grauniad is attempting to coerce Clark County, OH, voters by having condescending Britishers write obnoxious, factually deficient letters.
In particular, I was concerned by the letter of Lady Antonia Fraser, who is one of my favorite pop-historians:
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie ... ?
Why art thou so different from Venus?
And why do thou and I have so few interests in common between us?
These sentiments on the subject of duty, so brilliantly expressed by Ogden Nash, may well be yours, dear Unknown, when I, a national of another country, urge you to do your duty and vote in your coming presidential election. In fact, of course, we have all too many interests in common. When you vote - and please do vote by the way, even if you disagree with everything I am about to say - that vote will have as much effect on my future and the much longer future of my children and grandchildren, as it will on your own. For this is a crucial election, the most crucial, I believe, of my lifetime (and I first voted in 1955!).
First of all, if you back Kerry, you will be voting against a savage militaristic foreign policy of pre-emptive killing which has stained the great name of the US so hideously in recent times. A policy that Bush and his gang are set to continue - if they get the opportunity. I say "the great name" of the US because I believe that to be profoundly true. Although resolutely against the Iraq war, I remain equally resolutely philamerican, almost every movement towards liberty in the past having its roots or its refuge in the US.
As a wartime child, I am well aware of the benevolence of the American soldiers who came to our aid, the ones that filled the foreign graveyards where they lay, fallen because they had joined our war. Brought up in Oxford, I regarded these men as gods, generous gods. I shall never forget Hank, a composite of the very young American soldiers who regularly got my brother Thomas and me into the Ritz cinema to see movies such as Saboteur. In fact, Hank, in retrospect, looked rather like the Great Tom, my cinematic hero in Saving Private Ryan (so maybe Tom is Hank's boy; I like to think so). From the image of Hank to that of Abu Ghraib ...
Then there is the question of women's rights, and the possible repeal of legislation that has for a generation made all women equal before the law, not just the rich. Once again, this history of women's rights in America is long, strong and wonderful. As long ago as 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville, visiting America from France, discovered "the singular address and happy boldness" of its women, featured in Democracy in America. If you vote for Kerry, you will help to avert a move backwards towards women's suffering.
President Bush declared on Friday that, "History will decide". Dear Unknown, please be part of that history and restore your country to its greatness, both foreign and domestic.
· Antonia Fraser is a biographer and historian.
The boldfaced part is what disturbed me so deeply. Below, I reproduce my letter to the Guardian Unlimited, sent this morning via email (name withheld on the blog):
I am deeply interested in your attempt to influence
American voters in Clark County, Ohio. One passage in
Lady Antonia Fraser's letter caught my eye:
Then there is the question of women's rights, and the
possible repeal of legislation that has for a
generation made all women equal before the law, not
just the rich. Once again, this history of women's
rights in America is long, strong and wonderful. As
long ago as 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville, visiting
America from France, discovered "the singular address
and happy boldness" of its women, featured in
Democracy in America. If you vote for Kerry, you will
help to avert a move backwards towards women's
I am deeply concerned. First, I have not heard of
"the possible repeal of legislation that has for a
generation made all women equal before the law."
Clearly, Lady Fraser cannot be referring to the 19th
Amendment, no matter how fondly Florence King may wish
for its repeal, as that misguided piece of gas has
been hanging like an albatross around America's neck
since the Roaring Twenties and shows no signs of going
away. Perhaps Lady Fraser is referring to the Supreme
Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, although how a
court's decision can be referred to as legislation is
beyond me. Perhaps this is a nicety of the English
language that this bereft colonial is culturally
incapable of comprehending.
Lady Fraser is surely aware that the vaunted Equal
Rights Amendment failed the test of ratification, so
she cannot be referring to it. I remain, therefore,
confused as to what legislation is on the cusp of
repeal. Also, I am unclear about how exactly the
President goes about repealing legislation; I am
familiar with the veto power, of course, yet, last
time that I checked, veto must be exercised
contemporaneously with the passage of a bill by both
the House of Representatives and Senate (or via
pocketing), and the President has no authority to
repeal legally enacted legislation.
Presumably, then, Congress in either of its two houses
must be considering the repeal of some enormously
portentous equal rights legislation, yet amazingly no
organ (or even organel) of the American news media has
picked it up. Please, Lady Antonia Fraser and editors
of the Guardian, let your American readers (even one
so woefully ill-equipped to think for himself as I)
know what hideous repeal of legislation is
contemplated, and how voting against Bush, and
presumably for Kerry, will prevent the repeal of key
equal rights legislation.
I remain, as always, yours,
I am hopeful that perhaps this may be published.