I’m on my way back to Sweden, where I’m sure they’ll quiz me on all the nonsense they read about daily from the UK. Several press commentators have remarked on how low Brexit, May, Boris and the rest have dragged Britain’s reputation down abroad, in much the same way as Trump has done for the USA. Whether that matters or not, or whether it’s a fair judgment on us, are matters of opinion. But it’s also my experience on the Continent, for what it’s worth.
According to one of the regular commentators on this blog, that’s not very much. He’s been bombarding me with insults for about a month now; his last one (this morning) calls me a ‘pompous prat’. Well, I may be; but my main objection to his contributions is that he grossly misunderstands and distorts what I write, which is of course far more wounding to a serious author than ‘sticks and stones’. I won’t go into details, and haven’t done so with him – mainly because his comments are pseudonymous (he calls himself ‘TB’), and I’ve made it a rule never to reply to anonymous communications. What has become of the days when anonymous letters were regarded as beneath contempt, and indeed deeply un-British, by respectable folk? (See my writings on Victorian ‘secrecy’.) Nowadays the blogosphere is full of these; which is another thing, I think, dragging our nation down.
Apart from this, it’s unfair. I know nothing about him, or where he ‘comes from’ (Google’s no help); whereas he can find out anything he likes about me. Indeed, in his case ‘where I come from’ appears to be the main or even the only reason for his hostility. He knows I’m an (ex-) academic, and so attributes to me all kinds of attitudes and views which he assumes must spring from that – arrogance, elitism, contempt for ordinary people – in the face of what I actually write. (He almost never addresses my arguments.) I’ve always been scrupulous, in the Prefaces to my books for example, to be open about the personal and institutional background factors that might inform my views – and also about my struggles against them: against Cambridge, for example. That’s in the interests of ‘full disclosure’. I’m now beginning to wonder whether this was a good idea.
Out of fairness to him, I’ve always allowed TB’s vitriolic comments to appear beneath my posts – I could censor them out if I wanted – and have assumed that any of my followers who bother to read them will immediately see how ludicrous they are, without my needing to respond. TB will probably regard that as ‘pompous’ too.