'Open your mouth and they judge you'

4th April 2003 at 01:00
Graphic images of the Iraq war are traumatising pupils, Adi Bloom reports, and causing problems for young Americans

When Alex Taylor talks of a wave of anti-American sentiment sweeping across the country, he is speaking from first-hand experience.

"As soon as you open your mouth, people judge you," he said. "I've talked to British people my own age and some are against Americans. But I enjoy it. I like arguing."

Eighteen-year-old Alex is a pupil at Schiller international school, in London. He has lived in Britain for two years, since his parents moved from Colorado. Unashamedly pro-war, Alex is sceptical about the school-based anti-war movement in Britain: "Half the people who go on marches don't even know why they are there. They just want to be with other people. It's all these hippies, all 'peace, peace'."

Alex's views are shared by his American classmate, 18-year-old Robert Hemmingway. Robert, a British resident for three years, sympathises with the anti-war movement. Yet he fully supports an attack against Saddam Hussein.

He said: "Saddam is a tyrant, and he needs to be killed or at least imprisoned. He should not have a trial, because he murders his own people.

He has a cult of personality everywhere, which is disgusting. Peace is the right direction, but not with Saddam. Like Hitler, he needs to be taken out."

But other American pupils have more in common with their British counterparts. Paul Frankel, 16, arrived in London from Washington DC, last year. He says the British media have been justified in their criticism of the US: "If they're anti-American government, I'm right with them."

Paul, a pupil at the international school in west London, has not experienced any anti-US backlash. But he has not participated in any anti-war protests. "People know that Americans can be anti-war. But I've not been on a protest: I don't feel safe by myself."

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