Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flavors of suspicion

I get the impression that our brothers in the UK have to contend with more political suspicion than we do in the United States - I've read several news stories like this one that describes a failed attempt by the Royal Institute of British Architects to require that members disclose any ties they might have to various political/social organizations, including the Freemasons (who were singled out by name), because, as then-president Jack Pringle says, "I don’t particularly like the masons or any secret society which appears to work together in an undisclosed way."

It's a different flavor of suspicion; it seems like much of what we're exposed to in the U.S. is either half-serious (the Masons as the butt of tired grassy knoll jokes) or totally bananas, tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory ravings. By contrast, political stumping against Freemasons in England takes a tone that makes the fraternity sound like a shadowy network that's up to no good, but keeps getting away with it because nobody ever catches them red-handed.

From my limited perspective here on the other side of the ocean, I get the sense that this isn't an uncommon sentiment about the Masons in England... sort of like how Americans tend to assume (right or wrong) that anything having to do with organized labor in northern New Jersey must obviously be controlled by the Mafia.

I find the contrast very interesting, and can't help but wonder how my experience so far would have differed in such a climate.

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