bitter sanity

Wake up and smell the grjklbrxwg, earth beings.

Friday, March 28, 2003

[posted by jaed at 5:53 PM]
Don't assume...
...that "pro-liberation" means "not anti-America". As the British poll numbers shift, and if the numbers in other countries should show a similar shift, it's tempting to think that they reflect a less unfriendly attitude toward America.

I am reminded, as my weekly round of blogs reaches Harry Hatchet (ne Harry Steele), a pro-war British blogger, that this isn't a safe assumption. Specifically, by the repeated references to Americans as "septics". (It's Cockney rhyming slang, though I've more often seen the Australian version, "seppos" - "Yank" > "Septic Tank" > "Septic" > "Seppo".) He's not expressing a negative opinion about the war, here - it seems to be just residual despite and contempt. It seems to me that I've seen similar attitudes elsewhere, though less colorfully expressed.

There are certainly people who believe continuing the Iraqis' ordeal to be too high a price to pay to keep one of America's enemies going. But taking that position doesn't mean they're friendly or neutral to us. I suspect success in the war will, in fact, shift the poll numbers in Europe, but it will be a mistake to take such a shift as a warming trend.

On the other hand: British troops are fighting with us, some dying. There is no more potent proof of friendship and steadfastness than that, and I am grateful. National policy doesn't always track with personal feelings, though, and it's the latter I'm concerned about.

Update: Reader Chris Harper writes:
Just as an FYI - for an Australian or Briton to refer to Americans as septics is a friendly expression. It may sound derogatory but there is seldom any animosity attached to it. It is on a par with being able to refer to a friend as a bastard without damaging the friendship. Those who are truly anti American are unlikely to use this semi affectionate term.
I take the point... but I don't think I've ever heard "seppos" used non-contemptuously. Possibly it means one thing when said to a particular friend, and another when used of Americans impersonally?

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