Why are our English forebears rarely credited for their influence on America’s foundational era? Why are so many people so very vociferous in disparaging England (including its present incarnation as the UK?)
Many Americans can only think of Britain, or even England, as our ‘enemy’ of old, as in the Revolutionary era, and the War of 1812. Others, notably Irish-Americans and German-Americans seem to have longstanding grudges against England. Nevertheless England was the country which shaped the development of our country, at least until the demographics changed drastically.
Now, sadly, as England is essentially under occupation, some ill-wishing Americans seem to lean towards Schadenfreude, gloating over the ‘weakness’ of our English cousins. Yet if we look at the whole picture, of more than 2000 years of history, our ancestors accomplished a great deal, and deserve credit. But as one author noted, the British did not gloat or boast over their accomplishments, and an individual who did something which inspired praise or honors, during wartime especially, would answer that he was only “doing his bit”, doing what was necessary for the sake of their nation. A heroic deed, so they implied, was no more than what any decent person would do.
It’s interesting, though, as the phrase ”doing my bit’‘ was mentioned in a news story about the young man who helped subdue a knife-wielding attacker in London yesterday. In that situation, those passersby deserve to be commended for actively helping to stop the attacker before others were hurt or killed, at the risk of their own lives and safety.
The critics who pronounce Britain or England to be weak and defeated have to admit that the English are showing some spirit, as several local people helped to capture the man, identified as Usman Khan. Compare with the attack in the Netherlands where it seems there was no such involvement of passersby in stopping the attack there, or helping to apprehend the perpetrator.
The young Englishman whose response to reporters’ questions, that he was just “doing his bit” is behaving true to form; he did what he saw as needing to be done, and he minimized his own role in capturing the attacker. It was just something that needed doing, and he declined to try to claim credit for his actions.
Are there more people like this man and the other passersby, and will they step forward in this time of their country’s need — “doing their bit”? Or will these kinds of attacks continue as a slow-motion war that no one wants to acknowledge as such?