When I am in England I always read the Daily Telegraph, and that for two reasons. The Telegraph was the only newspaper that supported Churchill in 1940, and furthermore the Telegraph publishes the court circular. I am sympathetic to monarchist sentiments on Tolkienian lines. The best government, he wrote, is unconstitutional monarchy, presided over by a sovereign whose principal interest is collecting stamps. I also have the conviction that such notices as the announcement that the Princess Royal, accompanied by a rear admiral, visited the Antarctic Society may be the most important event in the United Kingdom on the given day, perhaps the most real thing reported in newspapers.
But these sympathies aside, it is instructive to review the news for January 23, 2007. I will pass over lightly “Bush Vows to Tackle Global Warming” and “Starving on a Spoonful of Mash a Day: Health Minister Admits Plight of Old People in Care,” and turn to the Opinion and Comment page. The lead article is “Respect Will Not Get Thugs Off the Streets.” The reference is to Prime Minister Blair’s designation of forty Respect Zones in the UK. These are in fact disrespect zones, areas in which citizens, and especially the elderly, are likely to be insulted or assaulted. There “the daily lives of many thousands of blameless people, particularly the elderly, are made unbearable by what the police call ‘trivial incidents’.” The writer notes that “as most adults and virtually all adolescents are aware, any physical restraints, informal discipline, or intimidatory language used against a minor can land a well-meaning citizen in court on a charge of assault.” Even the social stigma that once attached to parents who fail to discipline or control their children has been discouraged by left-liberal ideology in education and social services.
Across the page Andrew O’Hagan writes “Youth Culture is the Death of the Old.” Mr. O’Hagan believes that whereas his own youth culture of punk rock really wanted to change the world, “youth at present want only to consume and waste, opine and abuse, as if the world was made only for them and as if nothing was worth contemplating or pausing over.” Is there, he asks, “no one in Britain under thirty, not even one, who wants to work and live and grow?” One letter writer, noting that a café-bar has been erected in the transept of Liverpool’s Church of England Cathedral, asks, “Is there nobody to protect our cathedrals from such vandalism?” Apparently not. Another letter writer insists that Prince Charles, who cancelled a trip to the United States to receive an environmental award, should have made the trip despite the damage to the environment; it would have been good for the cause. And finally, there is an article beneath a large picture of the English Cardinal, Carmac Murphy-O’Connor, stating that the Catholic Church will close its adoption agencies if the government will not exempt them from the necessity of placing children in homosexual households, an exemption the writer considered unlikely.
Note, gentle reader, that from Shakespeare to the Beatles, operating mostly through our common language, the United States is often the cultural dependency of English ideas. Is this what is next?