Traveling to England? Looking for excitement? Try walking up to the nearest Brit and saying, "Hi, my name is Eldon Anderson. I'm from Idaho." And you'd better have them sneakers laced up.
Anderson is the Boise resident who lives near one of the American pilots alleged to have been involved in a 2003 "friendly fire" incident in Iraq that left a British soldier dead. After British newspapers found a cockpit video that made the mistake plain, many in the British public felt aggrieved. (The pilot, who has been cleared of responsibility, has not been identified by the U.S. Air Force.)
That's about when Anderson hit the airwaves of British television (yes, they'd sent several reporters here;
BWstaff were offered money by some news agencies for any information leading to the identity of the pilot). Anderson's point? Stop hounding the pilot and help us win in Iraq. Anderson's partial comments, courtesy of www.youtube.com: "You guys better get on board and that whole damned country of yours along with the rest of Europe. You are going to go merrily sucking your thumb like you did in World War II. We don't need your damned help. We need your cooperation, that's all we need out of you guys. It's hard even to get that. We know you can't shoot, move and communicate, but we'd sure as hell like to have your cooperation anyway."
Whereupon a great torrent of British vitriol came our way via e-mail, telephone (yes, from across the pond) and now, by letter. Anderson was referred to, by English ex-pats living here and by Brits chiming in from the UK, as either "a prime example of the worst kind of Idaho fascist cretin," a "disgrace not only to his country but to the memory of the citizens of your country and Great Britain who fought and died together," and "all wrong." Many writers reminded us that England had been in WWII for more than three years before America joined in.
BWreached Anderson, a Vietnam veteran, at home where, he said, media coverage was not quite wall to wall, yet. He called the search for the unnamed pilot "a witch hunt."
Now we're in trouble too. After
BWreceived a set of angry e-mails from one writer and, per our usual practice, did not reply immediately, their final communique to us was a one-liner: "Appalled by your lack of response."