I’m sure glad I’m not English at the moment given the Iran hostage humiliation. John Derbyshire, resident ex-Englishman and Sinologist over at the National Review, is taking the incident quite hard. One of his latest comments on the rotten state of England is,
“I've told this story before, so I hope I'll be forgiven for telling it again. My Mum, Esther Alice Knowles (1912-98), eleventh child of a pick'n'shovel coal miner, in one of the last conversations I had with her, said: "I know I'm dying, but I don't mind. At least I knew England when she was England."
I discounted that at the time. Old people always grumble about the state of the world. Now I understand it, though. I even feel a bit the same way myself. I caught the tail-end of that old England—that bumptious, arrogant, self-confident old England, the England of complicated games, snobbery, irony, repression, and stoicism, the England of suet puddings, drafty houses, coal smoke and bad teeth, the England of throat-catching poetry and gardens and tweeds, the England that civilized the whole world and gave an example of adult behavior—the English Gentleman—that was admired from Peking (I can testify) to Peru.
It's all gone now, "dead as mutton," as English people used to say. Now there is nothing there but a flock of whimpering Eloi, giggling over their gadgets, whining for their handouts, crying for their Mummies, playing at soldiering for reasons they can no longer understand, from lingering habit. Lower the corpse down slowly, shovel in the earth. England is dead.”
I hate to think of a day when I say the same about my country, especially since unlike Englishmen I have no other country to call home. Nevertheless, despite being American the hostage crisis and the end of England as a proud great nation does hit me hard. It’s like Scipio Aemilianus crying as he watched Carthage destroyed since he knew one day his Rome would suffer a similar fate. As I watch England laid low and humiliated by a pipsqueak third rate power while her people cheer the avoidance of anything difficult I can see that the same fate will eventually befall America. Regardless, whatever happens to my country I do have the consolation of knowing that on my deathbed I will be able to say, “At least I knew America when she was America.”