Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, September 12th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

What’s that, Edgar?  A European who understands the United States:

That [the Terry Jones] absurdity became the immediately accepted received wisdom suggests that the world (and not just the Muslim parts of it) must be very eager indeed to find a plausible excuse for casting America as a cartoon country whose heartland is dominated by bigoted know-nothings. Never mind that this is the same America which, only two years ago, was being hailed by ecstatic European liberals for having elected a black president, whose father and stepfather had been Muslims. I remember saying at the time that the victory of Barack Obama would provide only the most fleeting respite from the dominant anti-American mythology which is so essential to European self-regard.

The British, particularly – who feel that, for historical reasons, they should be in a better position to understand America than anyone else – find it almost impossible to believe that ordinary, not particularly well-educated, US citizens could be genuinely concerned about fidelity to an abstract notion of freedom embodied in a document that underpins their concept of government. (And no, Magna Carta is not the same thing: that was a deal between a king and a posse of feudal barons, not a legally binding social contract between a nation and all of its people.) But other countries – France, for example – have 18th‑century republican models of government, too, and their peoples do not seem to have elevated their constitutional nature to such sacred status.

What is unique about the US – and indispensable to the understanding of it – is that it is a country of the displaced and dispossessed: a nation which invented itself for the very purpose of permitting people to reinvent themselves, to take their fate into their own hands, to be liberated from the persecution and the paternalism of the old cultures they had left behind. Almost every American either is himself, or is descended from, someone who made a conscious decision to pull up his roots and take his chances in a land he had almost certainly never seen and which, until quite recently, offered no protection or security if the gamble failed.

Needless to say, read the whole thing.

Europeans, particularly the British, need to understand something.  The Ones That Got Away no longer consist of Englishmen who couldn’t make it in decent society.  Granted, far too many Americans view Washington’s victory at Yorktown as one of the greatest tragedies in human history but that does not change one basic fact.

The United States is not Europe.

Why?  Janet Daley, the author of this fine column, points out that our ancestors crossed the pond for a variety of reasons.  Some were religious, others political and others financial.  Towns like New York City and St. Louis were established for one reason.  As business ventures.

But they came for another reason that might encompass all three of the above.  It’s summed up in three words that really are a far better national motto than E Pluribus Unum could ever hope to be.

Leave me alone.

At the end of the day, what does a man really want?  He wants the chance to farm his spread or run his business, feed his family, bring up his kids and worship his God however he understands Him.  And that’s pretty much it.  As Micah puts it:

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.

A phrase with which George Washington was intimately familiar as his celebrated and still moving letter to Touro Synagogue indicates.

So letting people alone to enjoy the fruits of their labors is not too much to ask.  Actually, it was too much to ask if you were a Protestant in a Catholic country, a Catholic in a Protestant country or a Jew pretty much anywhere in Europe.

Hence the United States.  And I think that once people got over here and got themselves going, they had no particular desire to look back east to where they had come from.  They began literally and figuratively to look west to what was ahead.

What was possible.

Although this country has been part of the Scots-Irish Empire for a long time, that’s why things like Orangeism never took hold here.  To your average back-country Scots-Irishman, a Roman Catholic might as well have been a  Hindu.  Besides, my ancestors crossed an ocean to get clear of that crap.

Throw in all the Indians we fought and/or slept with(if your family goes back far enough in the Southeastern United States, you’ll know what I mean).  Add the various Africans or Mexicans our ancestors were attracted to(either culturally or sexually) and you eventually come up with the American.

That’s why “cowboy” is an insult in the rest of the world and the highest compliment here.  That’s also why the document that made all this possible, the one thing that beat back absolutism and the one thing all Americans have in common whether they were born here or not, the United States Constitution, is as revered as highly as it is.


September 12, 2010

“The dominant anti-American mythology which is so essential to European self-regard” is so often what I experienced with Europeans over the past few years. There are notable exceptions, naturally. Outside those, there’s a reflex superiority which people are quite willing to express. I would never dream, upon being introduced to a German, of immediately launching into criticism of his country, and yet that is the approach some of them take with Americans.

Timothy Fountain
September 12, 2010

I visited Philadelphia for the first time this summer. It was a great honor to stand in the very room where the Founders voted for the Declaration of Independence and ratified the Constitution. The displayed President’s chair is the same one that Washington sat in for the Constitutional Convention. It has a sun-on-the-horizon image on the top rail, which led Ben Franklin to wonder “Is it setting or rising?” After they ratified the Constitution, he concluded that it must be rising.

Allen Lewis
September 12, 2010

Ms Daley does, indeed, seem to “get” this country. She also does a nice job of summarizing the goals of the Obama administration:

I wonder if the Obama liberals – in their eagerness to turn the US into a European country, complete with paternalistic interventionism and bourgeois guilt – realise what is in the rest of that package: passivity, resignation and the corrosive cynicism that makes it impossible for Europeans to believe that ordinary people can use words like “freedom” and “justice” without smirking, and are not prepared to give up on the attempt to reconcile their ideals with the difficult realities of human behaviour.

Mark Windsor
September 12, 2010

I don’t really think the constitution is all that revered. If it were, more people would pay attention to it. Instead, it’s a document referred to whenever someone wants to get their way against the majority. The reverence is only skin deep.

Paula Loughlin
September 12, 2010

I and those I know certainly revere it. I don’t doubt that the current crop of properly indoctrinated educators are doing their best to instill a sneering contempt for the U.S. and the Constitution.

So yes we will see less and less reverence for the Constitution and more and more love of the State. That is why it is so important to remind people that
“L’État, c’est moi” don’t play so well in Peoria.

You know why I am not a modern Liberal? I am not a modern Liberal because Liberals love the U.S. as an indulgent yet properly scandalized mother loves her “black sheep” son. Her deepest hope is that he will come to his senses and start acting like all the other members of the family and get his butt in line. She has not thought for the great if somewhat unconvenential ideas and accomplishments of her boy. She just wants him to be like everyone else.

The same mindset that makes the modern Liberal look to the European model for salvation is the same mindset that squawks like a pinched goose at the very suggestion that we are a Judea Christian nation. You my dear Joe and Jane just ain’t to be trusted. You are fat. You drive a pickup. You own a gun. You think marriage is for a man and woman only. You think you can tell your child about sex. You drive to work. You live in the suburbs. You smoke. You drink. You have more than 2 children. You think grandman should have that surgery. You want to know why this law and why that rule and why this tax and where does the money go? You are untrusting, cynical, pains in the butt. Who don’t appreciate all the efforts on your behalf. You forget your place. And you are always giving your betters a hard time.

Yay for you.

Truth Unites... and Divides
September 12, 2010

“the United States Constitution, is as revered as highly as it is.”

We need more Modern Liberal Supreme Court Justices who revere the United States Constitution as a “Living Constitution”, seen and interpreted and then mandated through a liberal leftist hermeneutic.

Timothy Fountain
September 12, 2010

Good news/bad news: Good news is my son had a really good look at the Constitution in high school. They had to know content and do some significant written assignments to show understanding of key provisions. Bad news is he was in a Advanced Placement Government class – I wonder if the regular courses even look at the document.

FW Ken
September 12, 2010

Curmudgeon warning; I’m really cranky today:

Well, I’m going to take exception to the notion that individual freedom is the founding principle of the United States.

Ask Roger Williams about that after he was run our of Massachusetts for not going with the state religion. For that matter, how many of the colonies had established churches or required church membership?

Ask the Catholics killed by the Know-nothings in the mid-19th century. I really do question if, earlier in our history, Scots-Irish (part of my ancestry) were quite so magnanimous towards the Catholic neighbors, though often for ethnic rather than religious reasons.

Ask almost any immigrant group that came here and took 3 generations to get established, and still faced name-calling like “kike”, “jew-boy”, WOP, and so-on.

Just because victim-status whining is the preferred way to look at U.S. history these days doesn’t make it completely wrong. There really are “moderate” Muslims out there. Whether they are faithful to authentic Islam is a reasonable question to ask, but they do exist and ought to be allowed to live unmolested.

I’m omitted the case of black folks, since clearly they did not, as a group, come here for personal freedom, but we all know that was a compromise, a failure of our ideals that cost dearly.

My point is this: I think it’s all a lot more complicated than me on the family farm or business. Michael D, on another thread, noted there really were social visions informing the creation of this country. Not always the same visions, perhaps, but certainly something more than “leave me alone”. The Puritans of Massachusetts, specifically, envisioned their colony as a New Jerusalem, a city on the hill. Finally, it’s always well to remember that until the current day, a community was defined, in part, by it’s religion. That’s still true, but the genius of the United States is that (theoretically), we create an “overlay” (if you will” that allows a multitude of communities to co-exist. But it’s been a long struggle, and, particularly today, that vision is under seige from a variety of directions – the left and the right.

Sue Sims
September 12, 2010

While I agree with your regard for Janet Daley’s writing, the reason that she comprehends the USA so well is that she is American – she’s lived in the UK for many years, but she came over when she was in her 20s. So not, alas, a European who understands the States…

ann r
September 12, 2010

Currently reading a book on the fate of Jewish people in Holland during the WWII occupation. Author notes that the Dutch cooperated much more with the occupation than did the Belgians and French. She suggests that the Dutch were much more accustomed to accepting bureaucratic dictates meekly than were the French. They were accustomed to various sorts of registration, id cards, elevating efficiency over compassion, conforming to the norm of one’s social status. There was far less intermingling of Catholics, Protestants and Jews, as each remained pretty much in its social niche. That fits the Europe BO would like to see here: passive, docile, accepting. Hopefully it’s not going to happen! I like to think the folks with the feisty genes came over here.

September 12, 2010

Having lived in Europe for almost four years some time ago, the bottom line is that they are so jealous of us that they cannot stand themselves.

We are the “great experiment” of “We the People” with unalienable rights bestowed upon us by God Almighty, Himself, not by some puny monarch, despot, compromised government or self-agrandizing religion.

Far too many in the rest of the world cannot get over the fact that the United States of America has done quite nicely, indeed, until relatively recently when usurpers, who would destroy us from within, have cunningly attempted to rearrange our brains while revising our history, our religion, our Constitution, and our laws, morals and values founded upon JudeoChristian principles.

Are we wising up and exposing these thieves, these traitors, in time so that we can save ourselves? With God’s grace and mercy, let it be so.

One positive thing about our “ragamuffin, poor, crude, unsophisticated, naive” li’l ole selves – as many in the world so revel in labeling us – is that we still do know how to smell a skunk in our midst.

As Abraham Lincoln so aptly said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time; but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

With that in mind and with the state of Europe being overrun by a destructive religion concurrently with a failed ideology, both of which have been lurking in the shadows to reassert their fists, one simply feels compelled to ask the following question to our European bretheren, “How’s it goin’ for you these days, boopie?”

Bottom line, the “American Experiment” will survive because there are still enough of us red blooded patriots who will not let it be stolen by anyone….ever !

This site is full of patriots.
God bless your smart mouths, your humor, your insight, and your grit.
We have not yet begun to fight.

Dale Matson
September 12, 2010

I do cling to my religion and my guns. Those are two things Americans still have.I think the first and second amendment do a lot in defining who we are as a nation.

September 13, 2010

the dominant anti-American mythology which is so essential to European self-regard.

Europe can never forgive America and the Marshall Plan for literally rebuilding the entire continent from rubble and starvation in 1945 — and then keeping half of that continent free for the next 50 years.

In hindsight, of course, those large-scale exercises in socialism where the most un-American thing ever done by a US government.

September 13, 2010

“the United States Constitution, is as revered as highly as it is.”

Surely all the amendments to the constitution in the last 100 years – starting with the progressive income tax, universal franchise, youth vote, etc etc etc have desecrated that sacred document at least as much as any “activist leftist”?

and our laws, morals and values founded upon JudeoChristian principles.

America was founded as a Republic not a democracy.

The idea that the immigrant, the proletarian, the indigent subsistent peasant would be able to vote for the state legislature, congress, or the president — was as far from the founding fathers as the idea that slaves could vote

This isn’t revisionism: it is actual history – and with good reason!

September 13, 2010

I would never dream, upon being introduced to a German, of immediately launching into criticism of his country,

Why not? You paid for it! You designed it! You bought it with American blood only 65 years ago!

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