Fleet Street Numpties
This week saw the conclusion, well a kind of conclusion at least, to the saga of the Nat West Three. They plead guilty to a number of charges relating to the collapse of Enron. They will serve some time in jail. They were very naughty financiers who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
Today the Sunday Times has forgotten what this story was about. When they were extradited to the U.S to face charges relating to fraudulently obtaining lots of money, the press were outraged. This, better than most, exemplifies the prurient jingoism which colours the popular press in the U.K. Nothing quite like a good spell of “Johnnie foreigner bashing” is so eloquently therapeutic to the Fleet Street hacks.
I find this very odd.
In America we love foreigners. Most of our families, you will remember, started out as immigrants and, by definition, foreigners. There are no more hospitable people in the world than Americans. Even Borat was welcomed with open arms!
One reason is because we seldom meet one. Except for Canadians (who are really Americans in disguise – though if you tell them that you will likely get a punch in the nose for your trouble!) and Mexicans (who increasingly have many relatives in the U.S.!) Americans do not see, speak to, or know any foreigners. Down in Texas they think foreigners are people who live north of Dallas. This explains old Dubbya a lot!
It's not surprising, then, that when Americans do meet someone genuinely from another country, particularly an English-speaking country, they fall over themselves to be welcoming and hospitable. Ask anyone who visits. Even in Florida, where no self-respecting American would vacation in the summer and in New York, which I would gladly give back to the Indians for the 24 dollars in beads, Americans are universally glad to see you.
It's strange to find that the Sunday Times, in what can only be an attempt to “cover-up” the fact that these dudes were guilty as hell and deserve to be in prison, has decided to shift the ground to kidnapping. Apparently, it is still legal for the U.S. to kidnap people, drag them back to America and put them on trial. Outrageous!
Actually, it seems a good idea to me. The hacks who are so staggered by Enron and rendition are the same bods who are apoplectic at the arrest of a British teacher in Sudan.” Crickey what will those nig-nogs do next!!”, and the poor girl who may have been killed by a Dago in Perusia. Honestly!
The Mornroe Doctrine is almost 200 years old. President James Monroe pointed out, rather arrogantly at the time, that the American continent was no longer available for European colonisation. And, he made it stick. He wanted to stop European countries from interfering with North and South America. In the process, he made it clear that the Americans had no interest in the affairs of Europe.
This was fine in the early 1800's – when travel was the province of the super-rich.
Then along came two world wars.
Now, the skies are filled with sun-seeking Brits, and global business interests respect no doctrines.
An updated Monroe Doctrine is needed. It should go something like this: we respect the rights of all citizens of all nations. but, if you commit a crime in our country we reserve the right to find you, bring you back to America and put you on trial. Unless you agree to this, do not visit America or do business with us. Simple.
Britain should do the same. Don't forget – it is Britain who routinely lock up the wrong people for many years and refuse bail to just about everybody.
I'm thinking stones and glass houses here. The Nat West guys got a fair trial. They got off light. I hope they've got their money well hidden. Seems a small price to pay for a few years in jail!!
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