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The [London] Dinner Party
To understand the depths of this Bush-hating anti-Americanism, let's get up close and personal, as I am told they say in Crawford. Which brings me to a dinner party my wife, Cita, and I attended in a fashionable London town house. The usual assortment of media folk, City (financial) types, and professionals, with the odd (very) member of Parliament. It was a group put together by a very gracious hostess and her very conservative husband. Sounds like fun. But, at least for pro-Bush, anti-Saddam Americans, it was the sort of evening that makes one long for a good dose of Fox News, followed by readings from the works of Donald Rumsfeld.
THE WAR ON TERROR, announces one guest, could have been avoided if the Americans hadn't invaded Iraq. But the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon--not to mention various embassy bombings and the assault on the Cole--preceded the invasion of Iraq, I noted, in a gentle effort to help this guest reorganize her calendar of events. Ah, but original sin, the event that preceded all of the ones I cited, is the Jews' beastly treatment of the Arabs.
We are gluttons for punishment, not to mention for wonderful puddings of the sort being set before us. So we decided that the guestly thing to do was to stifle our desire to leave, running the risk that continuing the discussion might result in the violent response many Brits assume comes naturally to gun-totin', SUV-drivin', Americans. (They couldn't work their God-fearing epithet into that litany, as it might have impelled us to turn the other cheek, which they for some strange reason don't expect of God-fearing Americans.)
Besides, rational argument will conquer all, I was brought up to believe. So I gently inquired, "What would you have done after September 11 if you were president of the United States?" The answer did more than even a steady diet of BBC broadcasts can do to make us realize just what Tony Blair is up against: "I would have been nicer to the Arabs, and made the Jews be nicer to the Arabs."
Mind you: this is not Nancy Astor explaining the virtues of Adolph Hitler to her anti-Semitic friends in the run-up to World War II. This is Great Britain, circa 2004. And so to bed, after absolving our host and hostess of all blame for the views of their guests.