While thinking about Obama’s comparison of mass murders in the US to the same phenomenon in Europe, it occurred to me that part of what Obama has done during his presidency is to capitalize on an already-existent attitude among many liberals that everything European is better than everything American.
That’s one of the reasons that Obama can get away with erroneously stating that mass murder by gun is practically nonexistent in Europe and linking it to enhanced gun control. Not too many liberals in this country are going to question that because of the pre-existing idea that Europe has gotten its act together in so many respects while we falter far behind, alone among developed (or, as Obama said, “advanced”) countries in bitterly clinging to our troglodyte ways, our guns and our religion.
Other things we cling to, and of which Obama would dearly like to free us, include our American exceptionalism, our nationalism rather than internationalism, our rugged individualism, our income inequality, and our idea that “we built that.” Things he’s already greatly improved about America (i.e. Europeanized, at least to the extent we have allowed him, which is not to the extent he would like) are health insurance and our relations with the Muslim world and with Israel.
Not so many years ago the word “liberal” was the political kiss of death; people were running away from that designation as though from the plague. But now it’s back in vogue, according to Dana Milbank of WaPo (and a number of polls). This is probably thanks in part to the wonders of the Obama years, as well as the maceration of the newer generations in the “progressive” ideology of our school system and MSM. But some of it comes from the notion that Europe is better than we are and we should emulate it in every way—rail system, small apartments and tiny washing machines, long vacations and all. So any change in this country that makes us more like Europe is considered to be a good thing by the growing number of Europhiles among us.
This ignores the profound economic and social troubles that Europe is having. It ignores the fact that Europe has been protected by our weapons and our military, which cost money. It ignores the fact that the demography of Europe is tremendously different from ours, as well as its geography. It ignores the fact that people from all over the world still flock to this country, or wish to.
When I was a schoolchild, our teachers used to make us memorize poetry, almost all of it doggerel and the best of it merely passable verse. But I had an ear for doggerel and verse, and much of what I memorized back then has stuck with me to this day. It is interesting and instructive to remember the sort of patriotic paean that was considered appropriate for an American child back then (even one like me, who went to school in New York City, and a public school at that), such as this poem by the Presbyterian minister Henry Van Dyke:
“AMERICA FOR ME”
‘TIS fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings,—
But now I think I’ve had enough of antiquated things.
So it’s home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!
Oh, London is a man’s town, there’s power in the air;
And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
And it’s sweet to dream in Venice, and it’s great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home…
Oh, it’s home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that’s westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the bléssed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.
Antiquated, no doubt. But it meant something to me then, and it meant something to me when I traveled to Europe as a teenager and later, and it means something to me now. I think America still means a great deal to people, as I discovered from a curious video I came across the other day. Unfortunately, I can’t find it right now, despite close to an hour of searching and watching. But it featured short interviews with people all over the world who were asked to describe Americans and what distinguishes them from other people.
Their answers were quite consistent, and perhaps not exactly what you’d expect. I had imagined there would be more negative comments, but the remarks ran about 80% or more positive, and there was a certain unanimity of opinion. Americans were confident, and many people specifically mentioned that they could tell who was an American on the street because of the way they walked—with confident strides, head high, energetic and enthusiastic. You knew they were used to being free and speaking their minds. Many people also mentioned openness and friendliness, as well as kindness. They also sometimes said loud—as in loud voices—but they didn’t say it all that critically.
This video which features interviews in England is somewhat similar, and it’s the closest I could find:
Maybe those liberals who routinely disdain America could look at their own country and compatriots through the eyes of the many Europeans who understand why so many people would gladly change places in order to live in the US.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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