Sunday, May 07, 2006

Those Silly Ambiguous Brits

As usual, Sunday's To The Best of our Knowledge (TTBOOK) was interesting. There was a fun segment in the middle of the show though... The last part of "Segment 2" of EUROPE RISES AGAIN. . .

Adam Gopnick reads excerpts from his book "Paris to the Moon," set to music by the band Paris Combo. Also, Joe Queenan is an American married to an Englishwoman, and the author of "Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country." Queenan tells Jim Fleming why he admires the ambivalence of the British toward their historical figures like Oliver Cromwell and Margaret Thatcher and explains the real difference between Beatles Paul and John.

Let me explain a little more....

This guy compares how Americans view their own history with how English (and French) look at their history. It's very different.

Here in the U.S., we pretty much know that Washington and Lincoln were great Presidents and Carter was not-so-great. Sometimes people come along and try to say Polk was a good guy, but that usually doesn't fly. Things are black and white.

In Britain, there's a sort of ambiguity. Margaret Thatcher brought England into the 20th century; however, while they recognize that, lots of people hate her. There's something similar with Oliver Cromwell. They killed him in so many ways AFTER they dug him back up that they have no idea where his body is, and they don't care... But there is a statue of him outside British Parliament! Additionally, he was the first one to really hold a king accountable, and they think that was really important. He just happened to be a real asshole on top of that.

So it's an interesting little commentary. It's funny too. It's entertaining, as is all Sunday NPR.

Anyway, you can check it out for yourself. The Real audio is available here. The section I'm talking about starts around 27:40.

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