London Indymedia

"Anti-Bushism" hits U.S. expats in London

Dave | 13.11.2003 13:36 | Bush 2003 | Anti-militarism | Globalisation | London

The British abandoned their stiff upper lips and hugged Americans after 9/11. Now much of that goodwill has evaporated and the blame is being laid firmly at the door of George W. Bush.

By Paul Majendie

After the twin tower attacks, a military band broke with tradition and played the American national anthem at the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Less than 18 months later, one million people took to London's streets to protest against the forthcoming war in Iraq.

Now with President Bush heading to these shores next week to see Tony Blair for what should have been a triumphal reunion with his closest ally, the 200,000 Americans living in London are reflecting on how times have changed.

They recall with wonder how the British dropped their innate reserve after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

But now, after wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where British and Americans fought side by side, they face a wave not of anti-Americanism but anti-Bushism.

"It's tougher being an American in London than it used to be. Our President has made it so," said Newsweek Magazine's London correspondent Stryker McGuire.

"Even among friendly Britons, there's a growing scepticism about the gun-toting, electric-chairing land that has let Dubya be Dubya for nigh on three years now."

Christine Swanson, back home after taking the kids on the morning run to school, said: "I am frustrated. As horrible as September 11 was, it was a real opportunity to move forward in a positive way.

"There was a lot of goodwill to tap into and it took the incredible talent of George Bush to piss it all away in two years."

Almost 25 years after she first called London home, Pennsylvania-born Virginia Schultz vividly recalls the days after 9/11. "People were hugging me in the street. I thought the way they reacted then was wonderful."

"Right now there is strong anti-Americanism and I compare it to the Vietnam War. Bush has been targeted as the villain in all of this. I think he is even more unpopular than Nixon was."

The New York Times ' London correspondent Warren Hoge told Reuters: "America is now something of a rogue state, a pariah nation."

"People repeatedly say it isn't Americans we don't like, it is just Bush. He pushes hot buttons. Bush has so much to do with this rather stupendous fall-off in American popularity. It is quite amazing to think where we were the day after September 11 and how much of that goodwill has been squandered."

Film-maker Paul Berczeller, a New Yorker now living in London, agreed: "The groundswell of goodwill has definitely evaporated. It was a real missed opportunity.

"As an American living in Europe, I have tried to explain back home how negatively Americans are viewed in Europe."

Banker Eleanor Hope-Bell felt overt support had subsided. "The motivation to say something to someone in the street or the immediate need to act on your emotions isn't there."

But Anglo-American ties, she argued, are deep-seated. "When you think about World War Two, that will never go away, the brotherhood will never go away."

Virginia Schultz, who has already dodged tragedy twice, is philosophical about changing times.

In New York for a dental appointment, she witnessed the second of the twin towers crumbling.

In London 18 years earlier, she was late for an appointment and thus missed an IRA bomb that killed six people outside Harrods store.

Reflecting on the ebb and flow of anti-Americanism, she concluded: "This happens and you live through it."



Hide the following 8 comments

Anti-Bushism is not equivalent to Anti-Americanism

13.11.2003 14:55

The demonstration against George Bush next week will be led by Americans living in London. They understand that to oppose creeping fascism at home and illegal imperial adventures is to be true to the real meaning of being American.

Like many others on Indymedia I have the greatest affection for the United States and for American people. But I will fight tyranny in all its forms until I die.

Eugene Debs

Anti-Americanism began long ago

13.11.2003 15:17

Anti-Americanism began long ago back in the 1980s when the Islamic revolution took place in Iran. It was then that Arabs started to call America the "Great Saten". This hatred of America rew amongst the Arab world mainly because of Americas' dominance of the Middle East and its support ofr Israel and culminated in the September 11th attacks in 2001.



13.11.2003 15:57

I think you may find that 'Anti-Americanism' found its roots the minute the US began to chuck itself around militarily in affairs it shouldn't have. The US Mexican war of 1846 - 48 would be a good starting point, followed closely by their annexation of Cuba in 1899.

Folks have been hating them ever since.


well yeah but

13.11.2003 18:00

I think Eugene's* point is that we don't hate American people, just the military imperialism of the US state.

(*Eugene Debs was the leader and Presidential candidate of the Communist Party of the USA in the 1920s+30s, trivia fans!)


When exactly- another candidate

13.11.2003 19:40

How about the arrival of Perry's Black Ships in Japan, which was teh only way to get into that market? Was this Globalisation Part1?

Furat Al-Samaraie

Socialist Party

13.11.2003 23:07

I was Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party in 1916 when we polled several million votes in the United States. I was never a member of the Communist Party. I was (am) a social democrat, believing that public ownership and control of resources is both more efficient and more just, and that wars are gotten up to make rich men richer and to maim and kill poor men. If you want to understand my way of seeing, try reading the Sermon on the Mount.


Eugene Debs

post 9/11 sympathy is SYMPATHY not allegiance

14.11.2003 00:57

I'm an American who's lived in Scotland nearly 20 years. After 11 September 2001, many friends phoned me to offer support, sympathy, etc. - my family lives just outside New York City. I did not receive these calls from people who were sympathising with a COUNTRY, or a GOVERNMENT. They were shocked, and trying to reach out to people who had been connected with a shockingly fast loss of human (well-publicised, First World) life (as opposed to the daily drip, drip of loss of human life due to famine, AIDS, disease, etc.). My great sorrow is that my country of origin has so misinterpreted these outpourings of sympathy and capitalised on a platform of confrontation and 'them or us' mentality.

If there's anyone from the US living in Scotland reading this, I'll be in George Square on Thursday night with other protestors - I'll have a placard with the logo 'Bush: Has trouble getting along with others', and would like to meet you - cause I don't think this'll be the last demo we'll be on in the next year or two...

J. Brady

mail e-mail:

I stand corrected

14.11.2003 11:21

Thanks Eugene for the history lesson ;-)



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