Point/Counterpoint pt2

Tony Cox

European bigmouths tell lies about U.S.

At the risk of sounding like the boorish American that I am, allow me to first make one thing absolutely clear: I don’t give a rat’s ass what Europeans think about America.

European anti-Americanism doesn’t anger me — it probably should, but it doesn’t. It’s hard to seriously accept criticism from those who bite the hand that feeds them. For a people supposedly steeped in history, how soon they forget that it is the United States that has been saving Europe from itself these last 100 years — in World Wars I and II, then the Cold War and now in the War on Terror. It seems every time Europe sets its house on fire, America is chided for dousing the flames.

Since most Europeans have never set foot in the United States and rely solely on second- and third-hand accounts of the American lifestyle, their common criticisms of America usually fail to hold up under scrutiny.

For instance, Europeans criticize Americans for their lack of fluency in foreign language, claiming that it is their cosmopolitan outlook on the world that causes them to place such heavy emphasis on knowledge of alien tongues.

In fact, it is not urbane sophistication that drives Europeans’ passion for language; rather, it is brute necessity. One only needs to look at a map to realize that given the relatively small area which the continent occupies, Europeans would have difficulty surviving without knowing at least one foreign tongue. If the United States were as diverse, then Americans would surely be accustomed to speaking more than one language.

On the same token, Europeans claim to have a much stronger inclination toward learning, and yet the vast majority of scientific research is done in the United States — which is home to more Nobel laureates than any other country in the world — not to mention elite American universities are the envy of the planet.

Europeans are also critical of American individualism, clinging to the notion that it is the state that holds the key to happiness. This is the sort of thinking that allowed the rise of Nazism and communism. When a communitarian ethic stands above the rights of the individual, freedom inevitably suffers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and when people depend on their government to provide everything for them — from “free” education and health care to “unbiased” journalism — fascism of one kind or another is not far behind.

As I see it, the problem with Europeans is that they freely make themselves the victims of their own history. Rather than choosing to learn from the mistakes of the past, they refuse to alter their philosophical outlook and choose to let it manifest itself in different, but equally destructive, ways.

So why do so many Europeans hate America? The simple answer is “sour grapes.” The American way of conducting business has been proven time and time again to be more effective and humane than anything Europe has been able to dream up since the Renaissance, and they can’t stand it.

We’ve had to rescue Europe before, and chances are good that we’ll have to do it again. But in the meantime, let’s hope that as far as their senseless anti-Americanism goes, Europeans will be able to start rescuing themselves.

Tony Cox is a junior philosophy major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].