Commentary Magazine


Ah, Europe

George Lesser spoke to “a veteran NATO official with the closest possible ties to the United States,” about European attitudes toward America and this is what he found:

Europeans, he said, are appalled by the chauvinistic jingoism and religious sectarianism so apparent in the recent American nominating conventions. European politicians don’t wear flag pins in their lapels, and they don’t have their followers screeching “France, France,” or “Nederland, Nederland” the way the Republicans did “USA, USA” when John McCain and Sarah Palin were speaking. After hundreds of years of religious wars followed by 150 years of nationalistic wars, followed by 45 years of the largely ideological Cold War, Europeans tend to see themselves as beyond all that.

After all, there’s nothing chauvinistic about seeing oneself as “beyond” the vulgar trappings of history, is there? Especially considering it was the chanting, flag-waving Americans who saved the Europeans from immolating in those nationalistic wars and then from stagnating in the Cold War so that they could enjoy this post-historical siesta. For Europeans, questions of survival have been supplanted by ones of taste.

In Europe, there simply is no bumper-sticker patriotism. Cars are not emblazoned with flags. There are no stickers telling one another how proud people are to be whatever they happen to be.

Shame about that, actually. Because what Europe happens to be, along with America, is a miracle of human rights, cultural achievement, and technological realization. A little pride in this fact might do Europe some good right about now. While Europeans’ cars are not “emblazoned with flags,” they are routinely set ablaze by Muslim immigrants in places like Villiers-le-Bel, France or Almeria, Spain or Vaerloese, Denmark. Perhaps if Europe woke up from its cultural apathy, it might find a reason to oppose the forces that seek to destroy it.

If Europeans really preferred riots to bumper stickers, it would be one thing. But whenever the heat gets turned up they look towards vulgar America to set things right again. When Europe found out that Vladimir Putin never got that memo about the end of nationalism, Poland signed on to host American missiles quicker than it took Russian troops to pull back on their positions. It’s American protection that affords Europe the luxury of worrying about American patriotism:

To Europeans, the nationalistic, ideological and religious fervor they see in Americans is puerile and dangerous. They don’t like fundamentalist religious fervor and political extremism in the Middle East, and they don’t like it any more in the United States.

Well, then I assume they like it best in Europe, because that’s where both Islamism and right wing nationalism have set up shop like nowhere else on the globe. While Qur’anic courts sprout up in England, fascists desecrate Muslim graves in Austria. As sharia creeps across the continent, secular fascism creeps alongside it. But at least there are no gauche flags.

By the way, this piece contains the strongest John McCain endorsement imaginable:

“America has got to change,” the NATO official said – even shouted – repeatedly, “and John McCain isn’t going to do it.”