While I was living in London, I began to notice the prevailing opinion that the American gray squirrel was responsible for the shrinking population of native English squirrels. There were newspaper articles, radio and TV programs, all asserting that some neglectful person brought the American squirrel over, and since then they were edging out the native red squirrels.
Often the new world squirrels would be compared to the British ones as “fat,” “aggressive,” and “gluttons.” Once, an article even said American squirrels were “murdering” the English squirrels!
In other words, as was said of American GI’s during WWII, the American squirrels were “overfed, oversexed, and over here.”
I decided to defend my fellow, uh, countrymen. I went to the local library and checked out every squirrel book it had. Every single one made these same claims. Except for one book, much to my relief. It explained that the reason English squirrels were dying out was that man had felled most of its habitat. It can only eat coniferous nuts (like pine nuts), and these forests had mostly been destroyed in the UK.
Whereas, of course, the American squirrels could eat anything: bagels, chicken, popcorn, you name it. No wonder “we” were taking over! Armed with my research, I went to an anti-American squirrel protest that advocated “execution” of the “murderers.” I discussed my findings. I wrote letters to editors. I was a one-person PR campaign.
Alas, the controversy continues, with the House of Lords debating the need for an “Eat a grey, save a red” campaign. So to my fellow Americans I say this: When you travel in Britain, try to blend in, don’t gorge yourself, and be nice to the natives.