Thursday, June 03, 2004

And speaking of useless wankers

Mark Steyn has some fun with the perpetually clueless Polly Toynbee - A broadside in the war on blubber:
Just for a change in the old columnar diet, I thought I'd weigh in on Britain's obesity epidemic. But, on closer inspection, the war on blubber seems to be the war on terror by other means. In the Guardian, for example, Polly Toynbee had no hesitation in deciding on the root cause: "America has by far the most unequal society and by far the fattest," she wrote. "Britain and Australia come next. Europe is better and the Scandinavian countries best of all. No doubt there are also social policy reasons for this: the best social democracies pick up family problems earliest... But the narrower the status and income gap between high and low, the narrower the waistbands."

Plenty to chew on there. Just for the record, the fattest people in the world aren't the Americans but our Commonwealth cousins in the Pacific - the hearty trenchermen of Nauru lolling atop their island of guano deposits. Still, there are 300 million Americans and a mere 10,000 Nauruans, and if you stuck every single one in a New Jersey mall no one would even notice. So let that go.

Also, when it comes to Ms Toynbee's "income gap", the United States is 41st in the world, the United Kingdom 63rd and Australia 74th. But OK, by Fleet Street standards of pundit accuracy, that's close enough. Oh, and the Greeks have less income inequality than the British, but are much fatter. And the country with the highest obesity mortality rate in the world is apparently Denmark. Don't ask me why. I saw a report at the weekend detailing the remarkable rise in Danish breast size over the past two decades, so maybe it's sweaty Danish fat guys keeling over at the sight of all that fabulous Jutland cleavage.
This has been a barely disguised subtext of the new war ever since 9/11. In February 2002, Salman Rushdie reported back to New York Times readers his experience of metropolitan dinner parties. "In the non-American west, the main objection seems to be to American people. Night after night, I have found myself listening to Londoners' diatribes against the sheer weirdness of the American citizenry. The attacks on America are routinely discounted. American patriotism, obesity, emotionality, self-centredness: these are the crucial issues."
Well yee haw! And don't forget the guns and pickup trucks. Big honking scary guns and huge smoke belching pickups. Now if we could only ship out the native sack cloth and ashes crowd to join their whining Euro chums, everyone would be happy! Hmm, here's the first candidate:
That's why Michael Moore makes such a perfect performing seal for the European intellectual class: the vast bulk of his credibility derives from his vast bulk; to the sophisticates at Cannes, he's their very own Uncle Tom who growed like Topsy.
Good riddance.