11 NOVEMBER 1995, Page 69

High life

Culture clash


New York In The Diaries of Cynthia Gladwyn, Americans are described in scathing terms, with words such as gushing and materialis- tic being among the nicest. Lady Gladwyn was the wife of a Foreign Office diplomat, who, like most of his brood, took himself extremely seriously. He was ambassador to Paris from 1954 to 1960, but, unlike most of his kind, he did leave something good behind: his daughter Stellh. She married Joel de Rosnay and went French for the duration. (Stella was not only beautiful, she also had the added attraction of one eye being blue, the other green.) Needless to say, Cynthia Gladwyn was a snob, using the words 'common' and 'vul- gar' to describe people as often as the French shake hands, but mostly getting it right. (The Dockers were ghastly, and Princess Margaret is as inconsiderate as they come.) What I don't like about her diaries is her anti-Americanism. And before any of you dear readers shout hyp- ocrite — your `High life' correspondent being as anti-American as they come — let me explain. There was nothing better than an Ameri- can after the war, especially in the years la Gladwyn describes. Unlike the Brits, they not only had good teeth and posture, they were enthusiastic about the future, were out to save — not change — the world, and did not possess a scintilla of the crippling cynicism that has been the European trade- mark since 1918. So what if one said, `You've got the darlingest of husbands.' Back in Oklahoma, the quaintness of English public schoolboys buggering each other was seen as a far worse faux pas. La Gladwyn also thinks Americans are materialistic. So they are. But, coming from an upper-class Brit, it is pot and kettle time.

No, the trouble is not what Americans were like. It is what television, Hollywood and political correctness have turned them into. Never, not even in Greece, has a race of people gone so quickly from the sublime to the ridiculous. A race of white, Anglo- Saxon, family-oriented and God-fearing Christians has now turned into a nation of voyeurs spending their waking hours watch- ing the rancid and demeaning trash which soils the television airwaves. This abomina- tion, coupled with the national religion of egalitarianism, has done the trick. The one- time best people on earth are now mostly butt heads, personified by their leader, that arch liar and flim-flam man, the Draft Dodger in the White House.

On the aeroplane on my way over here, I was struck by the fact that every person on board — and they were mostly Americans — was glued to the screen. None of them carried a magazine or book, as if reading was politically incorrect.

Once in the Bagel, it gets worse. The permanent underclass, which is a product of a welfare system gone wild, watches tele- vision all day and night. Blacks, especially, can no longer articulate the simplest of sentences. American television takes the form of a national teach-in, emphasising all the wrong values. The black comics are even worse. The F word predominates, fol- lowed by the M-F compound one. Gone and forgotten is any subtlety or talent. The F word is all.

Yet the cultural elite continues to blame capitalism and racism for the state America finds itself in. Hideous hypocrites like Oliv- er Stone present the United States as an evil, sick, fascist country that is living a lie. Yet people like Stone are the liars. Alas, they're winning the culture war.

A culture that sees two people being murdered is irrelevant, as long as there is racial mileage to be made. O.J. Simpson is making blood money as I write. I wonder what Cynthia Gladwyn would say in her diaries if she were ambassador to Washing- ton today?