by Martin Amis, The New Republic, August 3, 2012
Conspicuous persons, in my motherland, are most seriously advised to lead a private life denuded of all color and complication. They should also, if they are prudent, have as little as possible to do with America—seen as the world HQ of arrogance and glitz. When I and my wife, who is a New Yorker, entrained the epic project of moving house, from Camden Town in London to Cobble Hill in Brooklyn, I took every public opportunity to make it clear that our reasons for doing so were exclusively personal and familial, and had nothing to do with any supposed dissatisfaction with England or the English people (whom, as I truthfully stressed, I have always admired for their tolerance, generosity, and wit). Backed up by lavish misquotes together with satirical impersonations (“cod” interviews and the like), the impression given was that I was leaving because of a vicious hatred of my native land and because I could no longer bear the well-aimed barbs of patriotic journalists.
“I wish I weren’t English”: Of all the fake tags affixed to my name, this is the one I greet with the deepest moan of inanition. I suggest that the remark—and its equivalent in any language or any alphabet—is unutterable by anyone whose IQ reaches double figures. “I wish I weren’t North Korean” might make a bit of sense, assuming the existence of a North Korean sufficiently well-informed and intrepid to give voice to it. Otherwise and elsewhere, the sentiment is inconceivably null. And to say it of England—the country of Dickens, George Eliot, Blake, Milton, and, yes, William Shakespeare—isn’t even perverse. It is merely whimsical.