October 13, 2004

Because I'm Contrary as All Hell, That's Why

Ya know, I can take just about anything European types say about America with a grain of salt, because, well, they're all just so (insert American stereotype of Europe here: cute, quaint, completely meaningless, etc.) and European, but I've got to draw the line at a transatlantic mail campaign to harrass a bunch of folks in some random Ohio county.

Seriously, Guardian, THE HELL? Extreme Self-Importance, much? Here's the Best. Bullet. Point. Ever.:

Explain why you think they should pay the slightest bit of attention to what you think about their election. Remember, charm will be far more effective than hectoring.

Irony actually cracked a rib laughing at that coming from The Guardian, where hectoring is second only to breathing.

It's a cute publicity stunt, I guess, if by "cute" you mean "typically condescending claptrap from a bunch of pseudo-intellectual brits," but it does have some unfortunate consequences, I'm afraid.

See, if our all-knowing betters had actually paused to study the history that they continually SAY they know ever-so-much-more-thoroughly than we do, they might have noticed something about the American character--you know, beyond our obvious six-gun waving, tobacco-spitting, crotch-grabbing bravado and inexplicable belief that things generally don't suck--they might have noticed that we tend to react badly when Britain tries to tell us who our leader should be. We're a bit touchy that way.

And although it would be amusing to see how many folks would deliberately change their vote to piss off some random brit (and I'm sure there are some out there who would), I fear that my own contrary nature, coupled with my Southern distaste for rudeness, have come to the fore. So I have decided to Take One for The Team: I submitted my email address to the Guardian and thus spared one of my Buckeye Brethren from a horrifying confrontation with written condescension. You're welcome, Miller family.

CAVEAT: I know this is The Guardian, with all of the moonbat disclaimers that entails, but still--sheesh! I thought it was The Onion at first.

Via Emily

Posted by Big Arm Woman at October 13, 2004 01:11 PM

I love the way they refer to the entire thing as a "competition" as well. Is there a prize?

Posted by: Emily at October 13, 2004 01:53 PM

I'm horrified and want this to be better publicized.

Posted by: kate at October 13, 2004 02:13 PM

It is horrible, and it is getting out.

What worries me is, how do we know that they are only giving out each family's name and address ONCE? Can you imagine, not only getting mail from god-knows-who in Britain telling you how to cast your vote in U.S. elections, but getting MULTIPLE COPIES FROM MULTIPLE PEOPLE.

Keep your ears open for the sounds of outrage from Ohio. As BAW mentioned, we Americans do NOT take kindly to people telling us what to do, and implying in the process that we are stupid.

Our ancestors left Europe in the first place (those of us who have European ancestors, anyway) because they were either fed up with European royals-and-governments, because they were tired of being oppressed because of the circumstances of their birth, or because they were individualistic adventurers/opportunists fleeing the oppression of the Old World. Maybe all three, and others besides.

Then they get to the New World, meet others like themselves, and settle down to marry and make lots of little rebels like themselves. Meanwhile, the 'rebel/independence' genes are getting diluted nearly to nonexistence back in Europe.

We really are very different from them in fundamental ways that are more than just cultural, educational, or political.

Posted by: Claire at October 13, 2004 03:36 PM

Thanks, BAW, for pointing this out. I did the same thing you did. I can't wait to see which nice Ohio voter I've saved from the shrill prose of an overly earnest aromatherapist in Glastonbury...

Posted by: Jeff/J.V.C. at October 13, 2004 03:51 PM

I just received the names of two voters (for my two email accounts). Mr. Mann and Mr. Holbrook will not receive letters telling them how they should vote.

Posted by: Viv at October 13, 2004 04:52 PM

I'm not sure they understand the Electoral College. There's no point in targeting a close county. The winner of the Ohio popular vote gets all the electors. Any conversion in the state has the same effect. What you want to call is a Republican county, so that every call is a potential conversion.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at October 13, 2004 07:50 PM

Because of these two little sentences: "On October 20 we will publish a selection of the most persuasive letters to Clark County in the Guardian. To have yours considered, please email a copy to clark.county@guardian.co.uk." I declined to respond. Their mind is already made up and so is mine. I'm voting tomorrow :-)

Posted by: Marie at October 13, 2004 07:53 PM

I found this to be quite rich. Though the site assures us, "Of course, who you urge your voter to support is entirely up to you," you get a much different picture if you click on the "letters from three prominent Britons" link. The letters could have been written by Michael Moore himself.

Posted by: Derek at October 13, 2004 08:21 PM

Um, a goodly portion of our English ancesters came here because they were criminals, and this was better than prison. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: Michael at October 13, 2004 10:29 PM

Michael -

You callin' my great-great-great-great grandpappy a criminal? It was just a little misunderstanding about "public" versus "private" property--anyone could've made the same mistake!


Posted by: BAW at October 14, 2004 08:27 AM

Personally, I think the Brits and many other nations are cranked cuz we in the U.S. have the power and strength to take over the world...AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN TRIED. Moreover, we don't WANT to.

How many European countries -- with historically similar positions to the one we have in the U.S. today -- can say the same thing, that they didn't go shopping for new real estate just because they could? The U.K? France? Germany? Italy? Greece? Russia?

Swear to heaven, it's just like bitchy high school girls ganging up on the prettiest girl just cuz she has stuff they don't have.

Never underestimate the power of jealousy (or adolescent stupidity).

Posted by: di at October 14, 2004 08:27 AM

Are those letters gonna have return addresses on 'em? You know, so the Ohio voters could write back, maybe before the next British election, so that those self-important folks who think they have the right to tell us (as well as the superior intelligence to know what is best for us) can get a little taste of what it's like?

or maybe better, give out their e-mail adressess so maybe, you know, some of the many fine Internet mass-mailers can have another potential customer?

In all seriousness, I'd be extremely creeped out if I received a letter, totally out of the blue, from someone I had never heard of, who was in another country, urging me to vote one way or another. I assume (from reading the website) that the Clark county voters didn't OK this ahead of time. (If it were, say, 3 years ago, I'd probably refuse to open the letter and take it down to the nearest FBI office to be sure it wasn't full of something that might kill me).

Posted by: ricki at October 14, 2004 10:00 AM

THANK YOU! I'm so glad someone else noticed this and was as disgusted as I was! This little stunt really is beyond the pale. It also points out just exactly how clueless some Europeans are to the American mindset. Harrassing the good old Midwestern folk of the Buckeye state? I mean, what are they thinking? New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, or San Francisco, maybe... But the heart of the rust/Bible/fruit belt? Hey, Nigel McPratt, didja notice the fella standing there on the county seal with a GUN in his hands? That would be one of those pesky, colonial rebel/pioneer types whose history I'm sure you wrinkle your nose at. THAT'S the tradition of the folks you've decided to poke with a pointy opinion stick. And have you ever heard of a little place called the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base? Think there might be, oh, I don't know, MILITARY families living in this county? How about a lot of good ol' 'mercun, God fearin' folk who visit the county fair, fly the 'mercun flag in the front yard proudly, and have the poor taste to not be "post-Christian" in that oh-so-sophisticated, chi-chi European way? But no matter... I'm sure they'll all be thrilled to have letters come winging their way in randomly from a bunch of arrogant, meddling wankers in Old Blighty. After all, who wouldn't be tickled pink at the prospect of being schooled by such paragons of intellectual virtue as the three examples The Guardian has already provided? Golly, I guess history isn't one of things being taught in all of those high priced boarding schools across the pond... Tea party much in Boston, my dears?

Posted by: Speckle at October 14, 2004 11:07 AM

The third pommy brit's letter said, "No doubt it is. But that's the Tony Martin school of foreign policy (Martin was a housholder who shot dead a burglar who had broken into his house)).

And this was wrong because...? Help me out here, my intellectual (and MORAL) betters.

Oh, that's right. It was not "civilized". I guess I'm just an unredeemable savage, cuz I see no problem with it. I teach in a university, and I love the reaction I get when I tell my colleagues that I'm planning o putting my kids in martial arts classes as soon as they turn 6 or so. Violence isn't the answer to everthing, but it sure is the answer to some things.

Posted by: Pete at October 17, 2004 03:58 PM