Monday, April 10, 2006

The Doctor can’t mend a sore commentariat

I can never thank the fabulous Fausta enough for keeping an ear to the ground. From the Bad Hair blog, he find the new digs of a favorite columnist.

The only reason I can think of to link to Maclean’s is the appearance of Canadian warmonger and happy warrior Mark Steyn. Looking into the new wave of touchiness on the continent found in Clive Davis’ and Timothy Garton Ash’s new books exhibiting shock at American’s being fed up with Europeans, he points out:
If the best evidence of the pandemic of "anti-Europeanism in the United States" is a Canadian columnist writing for a Canadian newspaper (Jewish World Review is a plucky New York website that happened to reprint a piece of mine from the National Post), that would seem to be self-refuting. A European who wanders along to his local bookstore to sate his anti-Americanism will find a groaning smorgasbord of tracts catering to every taste, including the French bestseller that claims the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 never existed. An American who strolls into Barnes and Noble to sate his anti-Europeanism will have to make do with a two-sentence quote by an obscure Canadian on page 243 of some book sternly warning of the rampant anti-Europeanism all around.

For many Europeans -- and Canadians -- the Stupid White Men school of anti-Americanism is a form of consolation: the Great Moron may be economically, militarily and culturally dominant but we can still jeer at what a bozo he is.
Readers of Lewis’ blog, (the three of you know who you are) will not find the arguments unfamiliar. The same catchphrases that made the rounds in the 1980s have reappeared – a “further divided society” which is less divided as it was two decades ago, the “climate of religion” tripe which used to be a “lack of tradition” argument when it used to be useful... It all looks too familiar, too repetitive, and too much like the sound of a child trying to tell you that the cat knocked the lamp off the table. In short, it’s overrought compared to the endless stream of bile transiting the ocean westward.

Steyn sets as a sort of datum two recently published books by Europhile Americans Bruce Bawer and Claire Berlinski. Let’s be clear about one thing – an American’s Europhila doesn’t lend the Center Of Gravity of Europe’s leftist public opinion any weight. Much as BHL is clear but critical about the US and about Americans, both Bawer and Berlinski are take to task by many for not being enraptured with Euro-thought, uniformly protective of it’s emotions as it is:
Both books are somewhat overwrought -- Berlinski dwells on her own relationship with some Muslim lad who later figured in Zadie Smith's hit novel White Teeth, and Bruce Bawer is reluctant to give up on the idea that a bisexual pothead hedonist utopia is a viable concept rather than, as it's proving in the Netherlands, a mere novelty interlude; his book might have been better called While Europe Slept Around.

Nonetheless, if Clive Davis thinks this is anti-Euro rotten fruit-pelting, that's more of a reflection on the complacency of the Continent's own commentariat. The difference between "anti-Americanism" and "anti-Europeanism" is obvious. In, say, 2025, America will be much as it is today -- big, powerful, albeit (to sophisticated Continentals) absurdly vulgar and provincial. But in 20 years' time Europe will be an economically moribund demographic basket case: 17 Continental nations have what's known as "lowest-low" fertility -- below 1.3 live births per woman -- from which no population has ever recovered.
So if merely pointing that out is Anti-Europeanism, what ISN’T? How exactly did the collective spine of a thousand year old culture get hauled off with the recycling so quickly? While some crudely suggest that the European yack-agencian is in need of a good schtupping, I’d suggest that what’s needed is for them to audit the lack of success in the ideas they champion, and the failure it’s brought those that are significantly poorer than they are.

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