It’s all our fault

<strong>The Evil Empire: 100 ways that England ruined the world</strong>

Steven A Grasse <em>Quirk

Are you a secret pagan? Do you believe in dragons, hate freedom and celebrate terrorism? Then you must be English, according to the disgruntled American patriot Steven A Grasse. Fed up with the anti-American tirades he receives during visits to London, Grasse has decided to turn the tables and publish a book documenting England’s sins.

Dubbing himself a "lay historian", Grasse sets down 100 charges against the English ranging from the fair ("they encouraged and subsidised the slave trade") to the bizarre ("they run their pubs like Soviets"). It’s a neat premise. The more outrageous, hypocritical, and simply incorrect his allegations become, the better the reader should understand how it feels to be bombarded with ill-informed criticism on behalf of one’s nation. But to pull it off requires a light touch to soften the abuse. Instead, Grasse tramples humourlessly through the material, lacing it with his own moral and political dogma. Thus the English are blamed for the "depraved" miniskirt, the "Keynesian slackerdom" of the welfare state, the "poison" of Marxism and the "sugar-coated satanisms" of Harry Potter.

In trying to teach American-bashing Brits a lesson, Grasse may well have given them more fodder.

This article first appeared in the 09 April 2007 issue of the New Statesman, France: Vive la différence?