(By Ray D.)
While skimming a blog named "German Joys", I stumbled across this absolutely fascinating article entitled "Inside Europe's Leftist Elite" by a man named Bruce Bawer, an openly gay American who has lived in Europe for the past several years. His observations cut straight to the heart of what is ailing German media, politics and society today and is an absolute must read. Here are a few excerpts:
"A few years back, after a prolonged immersion in American Protestant fundamentalism (I was writing a book), I moved from the U.S. to Western Europe, ready to bask in an open, secular, liberal culture. Instead I discovered that European social democracy, too, was a kind of fundamentalism, rigid and doctrinaire, yielding what Swedish writer Johan Norberg calls "one-idea states"—nations where an echo chamber of insular elites calls the shots, where monochrome media daily reiterate statist mantras and shut out contrarian views, and where teachers and professors systematically misrepresent the U.S. (millions of Europeans believe that free public schools, unemployment insurance, and pensions are unknown in America). The more I saw of the European elites' chronic distrust of the public, and the public's habitual deference to those elites, the fonder I grew of the nasty, ridiculous rough-and-tumble of American democracy, in which every voice is heard—even if, as a result, the U.S. gets capital punishment and Europe gets gay marriage.
How did Western Europe come to be ruled by monolithic ideologues? Short answer: the "'68ers," which is what Europeans call those who came of age in the radical movements of the 1960s, revering Mao and reviling the U.S. as Nazi Germany's successor. Remarkably, after the protests were over, an extraordinary number of '68ers—those who'd stood on the barricades denouncing the system—ascended into positions of political and cultural power, shaping a New Europe (and an EU) in which the anti-Americanism of the barricades became official dogma."
Quite often, Davids Medienkritik is labeled "neo-conservative" or "right-wing" for making the very same points that Mr. Bawer makes so eloquently above. In fact, these points are neither conservative nor liberal. They are neither "right-wing" nor "left-wing." They are - quite simply - true and plain to see for people on both sides of the political spectrum. The only question is this: How long it will take for the elites that run German media and politics to recognize their validity? Will the old-guard (the 68er) have to die-off first or are they still capable of introspection and change?
"Living in Europe, I gradually came to appreciate American virtues I’d always taken for granted, or even disdained—among them a lack of self-seriousness, a grasp of irony and self-deprecating humor, a friendly informality with strangers, an unashamed curiosity, an openness to new experience, an innate optimism, a willingness to think for oneself and speak one’s mind and question the accepted way of doing things. (One reason why Euro- peans view Americans as ignorant is that when we don’t know something, we’re more likely to admit it freely and ask questions.) While Americans, I saw, cherished liberty, Europeans tended to take it for granted or dismiss it as a naïve or cynical, and somehow vaguely embarrassing, American fiction. I found myself toting up words that begin with i: individuality, imagination, initiative, inventiveness, independence of mind. Americans, it seemed to me, were more likely to think for themselves and trust their own judgments, and less easily cowed by authorities or bossed around by “experts”; they believed in their own ability to make things better. No wonder so many smart, ambitious young Europeans look for inspiration to the United States, which has a dynamism their own countries lack, and which communicates the idea that life can be an adventure and that there’s important, exciting work to be done. Reagan-style “morning in America” clichés may make some of us wince, but they reflect something genuine and valuable in the American air. Europeans may or may not have more of a “sense of history” than Americans do (in fact, in a recent study comparing students’ historical knowledge, the results were pretty much a draw), but America has something else that matters—a belief in the future."
Mr. Bawer expresses with great precision and elegence what so many of us feel. He also has his own website. Check it out.