Winnie the Pooh and his friends Piglet, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore live happily in a comfortable bullet-proof home in the New York Public Library and have done so for many years. They have never expressed any desire to return to the Hundred Acre Wood or Pooh-stick bridge or the North Pole, the scenes of their famous adventures. Like many other famous British emigrants, from Paul Jones to Charlie Chaplin to Andrew Carnegie to Bob Hope, they have become patriotic American citizens. Yet in a sense they didn’t need to, for Pooh, Piglet, and Rabbit at least were already truly American. Tigger was Indian, and Kanga and Roo, Australians. Only Eeyore is truly British —perhaps he alone should be sent back to England to quell the Britishers’ agitation for the animals’ return. He never quite fit in with the others and always sought to stay in sad, wet, morose places—like Britain itself Pooh, by contrast, is entirely at home in New York and now proudly uses his truly American name of Pooh all the time. He has discarded the fluvial upper-class name of Sanders, under which he was forced to live in snobbish old England.
Pooh and Piglet are American figures battling in the wilderness against natural calamity. Piglet’s heroism in escaping from Owl’s house to get help after it had been felled by a hurricane was truly American, as was Pooh’s rescue of Piglet from the floods by riding the rapids on a fragile, floating honey-pot. Such challenges rarely exist in the bland British climate of perpetual drizzle.
Both of these heroes display a rugged individualism that is especially American even in these politically correct times. After Piglet had been forcibly scrubbed clean by the stereotypical hygiene- obsessed Australian Kanga, he immediately asserted his independence in an authentically American way by rolling in the dirt all the way home. He is clearly the ancestor of Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen in that most American of comic strips. Peanuts. Pooh, too, is American in his self-reliance and self-sufficiency. When that typically effusive and emotional Englishman, Christopher Robin, declared, “Oh bear, I do love you,” Pooh replied, “So do I.” Only an American could have said that. Indeed, when the Winnie the Pooh books were translated into German and Latin, it proved impossible to render the full force of this very American reply.
Pooh is American in his addiction to stoutness exercises, performed in front of the mirror, that have no effect at all on the solid girth which led to his becoming stuck in the entrance to Rabbit’s house and suffering the ignominy of having his ankles used as a lapine (or, if you prefer, cunniculine) towel rack and dryer. He failed to see that no amount of squashing, iron-pumping, and track-suited jogging in trainers can protect the excessive honey (or McHoney) guzzler from becoming as portly as Louis the Handsome. Only in America.
If Pooh and Piglet represent the rugged Western frontier and the “hawgraising” South of America respectively, Rabbit represents the very core of the nation, Washington D.C. Rabbit ain’t Babbitt. Rabbit’s obsessive and useless fussing and organizing of other people places him firmly in the management structure of a great American bureaucracy such as the FDA, and his expensive failure to “unbounce” Tigger was worthy of the CIA. His endless search for positions for his numerous friends and relatives makes him very much a Washington figure.
It is clear, then, that the militant Britishers who are agitating for Pooh and his friends to be extradited to some obscure English museum are utterly mistaken, if the toys were returned, the Limey climate would soon rot them with mildew, and the absence of bullet-proof glass would leave them unprotected against terrorist assassination. Can’t those stupid Britishers see that, if Pooh is repatriated, they will lose far more to other countries than they will gain from America? The Greeks will demand the return of Elgin’s hoard, and the British will lose their marbles; the Egyptians will cry for their mummies; the great gold throne of the MacHales, the last high kings of Munster, will have to be sent back to Ireland, and the Babylonian manuscript of the Book of Daniel to Saddam’s Iraq. In the end, an empty British Museum will be turned into a spare-parts warehouse for the flood of Korean automobiles that Britain imports every year.
What can be done to placate the wretched Britishers? In the short run, it would help if a philanthropic American were to buy up all the copies of the revolting Disney film of Winnie the Pooh, destroy them, and obtain an agreement from Disney never to film the Pooh stories again. The British audiences who saw the film—with its appalling interposed gopher—thought it was typically American. They were unable to see that Disney was simply a crass, mental-diabetes-inducing schmalz-meister and that his film was far less authentically American than A.A. Milne’s original works. Destroying Disney will help restore Anglo-American amity.
In the long run, though, the only answer is for America to invite Britain to join the United States and to turn its constituent peoples into four new states of the union, each with a star on the American flag. America will obtain a vital permanent military base and an economic asset on the very edge of Europe and reinforce its position as the world’s richest and most powerful nation by gaining 60 million new, peaceable, loyal Englishspeaking citizens. This would also save Britain from extinction due to secession by the new and belligerent Scottish and Welsh parliaments, the political unrest that will follow the impending abolition of the monarchy by Labour, and Britain’s departure from the European Union under the Conservatives. A dismembered, disinherited, and isolated Britain will have nowhere to go except into the arms of the United States. The prodigal father will have come home. On that happy day, Britain will become as American as Pooh, and provincial tourists from London will visit his home at Pooh Corner in New York as easily as if they had come from Seattle or Albuquerque.