By Calvin Palmer
When a man who is proud of his nationality, and most men are, dies in a foreign country one would think it incumbent upon that country’s media to acknowledge his nationality. Not only is giving someone’s nationality part of good reporting and journalistic standards but, in the case of someone who has died, it is also a mark of respect.
Many newspapers in the United States carried the story of the death of British driver Dan Wheldon at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. As is newspaper practice, they made use of wire reports by the Associated Press, which failed to make any mention of Wheldon’s British nationality.
While it is true that Wheldon became a sporting hero in the United States and was largely unknown in his home country, he was fiercely proud of his nationality.
When he won the Indy 500 in 2005, a feat he repeated last year, he took to the winner’s rostrum with the Union Jack draped across his shoulders.
The British, especially the English, are often accused by Americans of being arrogant. The accusation is often leveled at me, even by family members. I usually counter with the Cecil Rhodes quote: “To be born an Englishman is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” Needless to say this response only further antagonizes Americans but isn’t that what being English is all about?
And Americans cannot claim to be so virtuous. Is not their indifference to, and ignorance of, anyone or anything outside the United States just another form of arrogance?
At least the British can cite several centuries of being in the ascendancy instead of a mere 70 years.