The Times of London takes Michael Moore apart. Check it out. (Via Andrew Sullivan). I'm going to start carrying this article around with me and pull it out the next time I run into an Intellectually Aggressive Brit.
Intellectually Aggressive Brits are working- or lower middle-class Englishmen--you don't often find this phenomenon among other inhabitants of the British isles, or among women--who have been to a (red-brick) university and who have a degree in something useless like English lit or education. These people are acutely class-conscious and know exactly where they fit in the English social scheme, which is here: Guardian readers who think they're smart enough to run things but know they'll never get another chance in A. T. (After Thatcher) England, so they simmer in the anger and shame that their irrelevance causes them while lecturing on labour history at the local polytechnic somewhere gray like Nottingham or Sunderland. If they can't hack even that, they show up down here. I enjoy listening to them lecture to me about Barcelona after having been here three months.
Anyway, you, as an American, can expect to get a good talking-to by this brand of Brit. He will lecture you up one side and down the other on the perfidiousness of your home country, and he knows it's true because Noam Chomsky or Robert Fisk or Michael Moore or Naomi Klein or (formerly) Christopher Hitchens or Mr. Unfunny Self-Hating Yank Comedian Bill Hicks (whose basic joke was a bitter diatribe against ignorant fat people from Iowa who had the gall to visit Britain, his adopted homeland) says so. No point in arguing with these guys; they've got their minds made up based on what they consider Received Truth.
I met up with three unpleasant Brits of this type this very week, one at the coffee shop and the other two in separate visits to Miguel's downtown. All three approached me; I did not initiate any of these conversations. I prefer, when alone in public, to mind my own business; however, I will talk courteously to anyone who starts talking to me. Now, this is an unusual week; I normally get one of these a month or so.
These folks all lit into me about the United States and got Intellectually Aggressive when I didn't roll over and start whimpering like Bill Hicks and the other Self-Hating Yanks (note: most Yank expatriates are self-hating in one way or another; some are more extreme than others, but, let's put it this way, they've read Howard Zinn's History of the United States and haven't read Paul Johnson's) they've run across. In fact, I managed to get two of the three all tangled up in their own logic by simply questioning the premises behind their assumptions, which are often laughable; amazing how much more Intellectually Aggressive Brits think they know about the US than Americans themselves. Jeez, a Brit who is a friend of mine but just a little I.A. once told me in all seriousness that George Bush was a fanatical born-again Christian; Bush, of course, is a Methodist. The third guy, though, launched into this long story about how there were no Cuban troops on Grenada and nobody got shot and how, get this, it happened in 1993. Fortunately, I had to go home right then, having discussed what I had to discuss with the bar's owner.