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Of xenophobia, plagiarism and permutation

by eternalcityblues Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 09:14:36 PM EST

Celebrating in their own inimitable way the 50th anniversary of European unity and Iran's simultaneous capture of UK seamen, far-right US bloggers and forum poster are swapping guffaws at this latest "masterpiece" of anonymous online Europhobia:


Heightened Terrorist Threat Levels In Europe

In view of Iranian actions of the past few days and the theatrical US Congress, EU members are now seriously concerned.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance", after a judge ruled that the Quran should be considered under German law, to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels or a reduction in the EU bureaucracy.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy when they navigate past Cape Trafalgar.

Something in the text - could call it a certain unevenness in quality and tone? - sparked my curiosity: the initial "Brit" part seemed so much better written than the crude remainder. So I started googling to see if I could trace its origin and internet history.


Here is what seems to be the original version - written in the immediate wake of the London train-bombings:

July 23rd 2005 version:

As London is hit by the second wave of bombings in two weeks, the Government has raised the terror warning level from 'miffed' to 'peeved'.

Whilst many people commented with respect at the stoical attitude of Londoners to the first wave of attacks, Londoners are losing their traditional reserve and may soon require the terror level warning to be raised to 'irritated' or even 'a bit cross'.

A government spokesman commented upon the seriousness of the situation. "London has not been 'a bit cross' since the height of the Blitz in 1940 when supplies of tea ran out for almost three weeks".

And a representative of British Security Services said "It is a mark of the seriousness with which Londoners are taking the situation that we have recently been forced to recategorise suicide bombers from 'tiresome' to 'a bloody nuisance'. The last time we had a 'bloody nuisance' warning level was during tthe great fire of 1666."

On the streets, Londoners reacted with uncharacteristic anger to news of the latest attacks, with some members of the public delivering harsh language to the news that they might be delayed on their homeward trips by up to twenty minutes.

"It really is the absolute limit," said Reginald Boggis, 42, of East Ham. "These terrorists. Not content with blowing things up, they then have to spoil the day for everyone. That's very upsetting, that is. If they wanted to get things changed, they should write an angry letter to Points of View. That's what my wife and I always do."

Tony Blair is expected to make political capital out of the situation as soon as his focus groups report on the mood of the nation.

By Sept. 2005, however, under what appears to be a bout of further UK-based editing, the text had lost its direct reference to the July bombings and acquired a tail of WW2-based "national stereotypes"- i.e. at this point, most of the text was pretty much the same as the March 2007 version first quoted, minus the (non-WW2) Spanish navy ref. However, it included a further two "UK-specific" final paragraphs:

Seeing this reaction in continental Europe, the Americans have gone from 'Isolationism' to 'Find another oil-rich nation in the Middle East ripe for regime change'. Their remaining higher alert states are 'Attack the world' and 'Beg the British for help'.

Finally GB as a whole has gone from 'Pretend nothing's happening' to 'Make another cup of tea'. Our higher levels are 'Remain resolutely cheerful' and 'Win'.

In Sept. 2006 the text resurfaced on a series of internet blogs, at this point in what looks like a pro-NATO US-edited/oriented version - the last two paragraphs have been removed to spare American sensitivities, and a final paragraph designed to imply that the EU actually desires US troops to remain indefinitely on its soil had been tacked on in place of the deleted ones:

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

Which brings us to Feb. 2007: the penultimate version doing the rounds, complete with Spanish-navy tail - but instead of the Iranian-ref. "latest-latest-latest" introduction the now-canonical main body of the text is prefaced by a reference to the US's own internal political divisions:


As a result of the attempted Democratic capitulation over the "Surge" issue, the islamofascists have decided to up the ante so that the rest of the US will also capitulate. Thus, Europe, fearing that they will become fresh targets have increased their terror alerts ... (etc etc)...

Wonder how many more metamorphoses and permutations this text will have time to undergo.. in the residual months/years between now and full-scale US retreat from Iraq?

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(with apologies for not having posted anything here over the last few months, eh? Partly too busy working, partly lack of EuroTrib-suitable inspiration)

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 09:26:46 PM EST
interesting to see how if the barbs are evenly distributed, it's amusing for its droll snideness, then when you omit one nation, propaganda emerges.

speaking of omitment (opposite of 'commitment', dropped an 'm' in the 'process'), you were much missed in your absence, so glad to hear from you again.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 01:10:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
interesting to see how if the barbs are evenly distributed, it's amusing for its droll snideness, then when you omit one nation, propaganda emerges.

Not quite how I see it?  What I found was that the original Brit-bit, being Brit-authored, was an affectionately droll homage to national stiff-upper-lip understatement in the face of carnage.

However - in phase 2 - some anon. "re-editor" appended to this a spate of viciously hostile Freedom-Fry-type projections of WW2 events into a series of "national stereotypes" for continental Europeans, none of which have anything whatsoever to do with the normally-perceived national characteristics/quirks of the peoples in question. Content can be summed up as "the French are cowardly treacherous turncoats", "the Italians are noisily theatrical treacherous turncoats", "the Germans are hyper-militaristic tinker toys who can't fight" ... cute, eh? To which some bright spark then appended a schoolboy reminiscence of the defeat of the Spanish Armada as representative of Spain's past-present-future essence ...None of which is on the same level - or in the same spirit - as the rather amusing "keep a stiff upper lip and have a nice cup of tea" national-stereotype treatment reserved for the Brits.  

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 05:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to see you around again, anyway!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 02:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very glad to have you back!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 03:08:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks :-) but I never left!!

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 11:33:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quick question: is the supreme leader of the islamofascists Grand Ayatollah Mussolini?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 04:36:05 AM EST
Hopefully those tiny minds will extinguish themselves in those failed efforts to be creative, or they will fight amongst themselves about whose level of innane thought was lower first.

OT:  Didn´t the cats tell you I kept calling?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 08:12:24 AM EST


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