Kevin Myers: It's odd, yet it's true: universally, the English are just about everyone's official non-friend
Published 02/06/2010 | 05:00
I begin with a question to which I have no answer. Why do so many people hate the British? I say "British", but what they actually hate is England, and the English.
The frequent interchanging of 'England' and 'Britain' has caused a common confusion of meaning. The 'Oxford History of England' is in fact a history of Britain: the common German term for Britain is England, and many people use the terms Britain and England interchangeably.
When Barack Obama announced, through teeth so clenched that it was as if he had found one of Osama bin Laden's pubic hairs lodged there, that he was going to make "British Petroleum" pay for the damage done to Gulf, he emphasised the term "British", almost as a secret code word for 'bad' within the American lexicon. Actually, the name of the company is actually not "British Petroleum", but BP. And "British" in Obama-speak didn't mean the Scottish or the Welsh. It meant England. And universally, it really is okay to disparage England in a way that is permitted of no other country.