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Thanks, Erica. You're not only wise, but brave to publish your essay here on Medienkritik, a worthy daughter of your illustrious ancestors.

"But being back in Italy I’ve come to believe that whether it’s true is up to everyone to decide alone, and on their own terms."

Very good advice. I will do my best to apply it to myself.

Fascinating, particularly the remarks about how "they" is used in Italy. I grew up in the South during the last years of segregation and noticed a similarly remarkable use of "they."

To give a bit of background, it helps to keep in mind that, except for Presidential elections, where the ballot always listed both parties, the segregated South (1870s-1960s) was a race-based, single party dictatorship maintained by verbal and physical violence. My first political memory is of an all-Democratic-party primary ballot that prominently displayed the state party logo, a crow that was squawking "White Supremacy for the Right." Republicans simply didn't exist at the state or local level. They didn't dare exist. My great-great-great-grandfather, Hopwell Hallmark, was apparently murdered in 1874 for voting Republican and, given his personality, probably being open about it. That was the year the Democratic party openly proclaimed it would retake the South "by ballots or bullets." Family tradition is a bit vague about whether he got a bullet (like his sister during the Civil War) or whether he was lynched. I like to think that some of my "gumption" and "grit" comes from him.

In the 1870s, some 1200 people were murdered across the South to reestablish Democratic party rule and white supremacy, the two being virtually identical. By the time I was a child in the 1950s, the threat of open violence was much less, but the cultural artifacts remained. People were instinctively afraid to reveal any opinion that went against the racist consensus. The result was the common use of "they" to express dangerous opinions. "They say that school segregation is wrong"--that sort of thing. Even as a kid, I felt like asking, "But what do you think?" I doubt I would have gotten a response. People avoided giving an opinion if it wasn't PC, racist style. "They" were left with all the good ideas.

Now to what prompted me to bring up Medienkritik on my browser. I'm doing a book called Chesterton on War that's G. K. Chesterton's views about war, particularly his efforts during and after WWI to prevent Europe from sliding into a second war that he warned would make the first look like nothing. I'm now writing the most fascinating part of the book, what he wrote in the 1930s before his death in 1936. Even BEFORE Hitler came to power, he was warning that Hitler would take power, that he would push Germany into aggression, and that, if nothing was done, the next war was likely to break out over a border dispute with Poland--precisely what happened. In a December 3, 1932 article, he warned that the democracies lacked the will to oppose Hitler, explaining that their political leaders no longer accepted "the primary principle of Democracy," which he explained this way:

"Now, there is a primary principle of Democracy, though most modern Democrats do not know it. And it is a just one, although many of them, by this time, do not even believe in justice. Its ultimate nature might be stated thus: that man corporate, like man individual, has an indestructible right to self-defense. If it is normal for men to live in a society, that society has a right to live, and may, acting as a society, ward off danger and death. In one sense a man has a right to himself; in another sense a nation has a right to itself. It is not bound to be indefinitely oppressed or pillaged, by foes and strangers without or by traitors or tyrants withing. And there is a real and reasonable sense, if we think the thing out, in which it is the ultimate judge of whether it is being destroyed or no."

In the U.S. that "principle of Democracy" is still alive, particularly in red state regions. In Europe, with the exception of places such as Denmark, the Texas of Europe, it is virtually dead. Most of the people and virtually none of the ruling elite have the will to defend Europe or Italy or France or Germany's "right to be itself." At the personal level, guns are banned, because the individual has no right to self-defense. He can only come, cap in hand, to an all-powerful State and plead for protection. At the coporate level, all of Europe is also being rendered defenseless. With limited exceptions, few in Europe have the will to resist the dangers of the continent being Islamized or eventually being placed under Sharia law. Almost none had the will to resist the potential threat that a nuclear Iraq posed before the US invasion, hence the anti-war sentiment. And almost none have the will to resist the similar threat that Iran poses today. (At best, Europeans seem to hope the US or Israel will do something for which Europeans will then criticize them.) Europeans simply do not understand how people should live in a democracy, particularly what they have a right to fight for. It's all whinning, complaining and hate-US sentiment--the behavior of serfs.

In short, Europe remains today exactly where Chesterton warned it was in 1932, ignorant of the basic meaning of democracy--the right to be oneself as an individual and as a nation, whatever others might think. Only with US assistance was it able to marshall the courage to resist Soviet communism. Today, it seems so lacking in the will to resist Islamists, that it's hostile to a U.S. that, our liberals excepted, is willing to 'be itself' as a democracy and to spread the benefits and the right to be one's self democratically to places such as Iraq and to defend it in Israel. (You have to be really weak and cowardly to resent courage in others.) Europe even seems to lack the will to resist selling weapons to its external foes in exchange for oil, to stop subsidizing large, unemployed, increasingly radical Muslim families through its welfare system, or to have enough children to keep their various national cultures alive.

Given present trends, in two generations, the Italian culture that the writer above describes so marvelously will cease to exist. That's what she and her friends should be outraged about and not a U.S. that will be alive, vigorous and free a century from today.

--Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

My son spent one college semester in Rome and was amazed with Italians that castigated the United States with one breath and then stated how much they'd like to live there with the next. Schizoid Europeans remain a dime a dozen.

@Inkling, excellent commentary :).

I am old enough to have been a politically aware teenager during the last days of Jim Crow, and got a rather nasty exposure to it when my late Dad retired from the Marines and came here to Florida to attend FSU. He, too, was a Republican, and while much of the local "politically correct" opinion of the time was outraged over the proposal of "bussing" to integrate the schools, I was outraged over the fact that I had to be bussed to a white high school miles away when there was a black high school within walking distance of our house.

But we DID understand the danger and learned about the "they" commentary quickly. There were times, however, when we just couldn't stand it. When Dad went to get a part-time job to suppliment his Marine retirement while he went to college (with three teenaged daughters to support!), he had a fit over the "Race____" blank on the job applications and wrote "human". He was eventually hired as a fry cook by a black restaurant manager with a sense of humor. And he genuinely enjoyed working that job :). By standing for what he believed, it placed him in an environment where he didn't have to be careful about what he said.

Years later, however, around 1985, Dad, as a professional man, applied for a place in a panel discussion at a seminar, and when he saw the "Race____" blank on the application, he blew a fuse and wrote "human" again! But this time, since the race requirement was for all of the politically correct 1985 reasons of making sure there was a "correct" racial balance on the panel, he was castigated as a racist. For being consistant. His view was that if using race as a qualification was wrong in 1959, it was even worse in 1985! He passed away in 1990, but served as a beacon of light for my life :).

I have often been totally flabberghasted as to how Republicans have gotten a reputation for being racists in recent years. But since the 1985 incident I have had an inkling that it has to do with the fact that Republicans genuinely don't see race as an issue, and so don't bow down to worship blatant race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson. So now we have a new "them"... those who won't let us treat them as equals, with all the rights AND responsibilities that come with equality.

Which brings me to the victim mentality that seems to be trying to take over all areas of the world. I survived cancer some years back, and am now past the point where the type I had would return, so I've been officially pronounced "cured" rather than just in remission. But I have never EVER considered myself a "victim" of cancer. I considered myself as someone who was critically but not impossibly ill-- a 10% chance of survival was still a chance-- and am now just getting on with the rest of my life. I believe to this day that if I had EVER succumed to the "victim" mentality that I would not have survived. And that's my Dad coming through, I believe. No, he never taught me anything of importance concerning "proper behavior" during a serious illness, since he died rather suddenly and unexpectedly, but the set of my life has always been that of FREEDOM, of independence, and of all the responsibilities that go along with it-- individual freedom that refuses to bow down to my "betters", including the doctor who told me that I had "only" a 10% chance of survival. And THAT is my Dad's legacy :).

I have much more to say about the victim mentality, of how manipulative it actually is, but I've rambled enough for tonight. I will close for now with the basic fact that individual freedom and the responsibilities that go with it is much more of an attitude than a political fact. It's an attitude that is alive and well in much of the US, and is dying in too many other places. It needs to be revived. NOW.

It was nice to meet you, Michael :).

Thank you for your view, Erica. I love Italy! When I was young we spent EACH holidays there. Almost every German family did so! The Italian beaches were overcrowed with us. Last year I "infected" my American husband with the Italian virus and we visited Como and the lake Garda. Beautiful! Great people, great food and great music.

Thank you for the commentaries posted here. That's why I love to read DMK.

Shouldn't students of political science be at least somewhat informed about what's going on in the world? Shouldn't they know our world isn't as simple as the short daily (state sponsored) news show suggests? It's a little disturbing that even they thinks it's enough to simply blame the US for everything. But on the other hand, knowing the state of old Europe, I guess it isn't.

LC, your courage and wisdom inspire me. Maybe there is hope for our country yet!

Thanks, Jonathan :). I'm doing what I can to try to "infect" people via the Internet with the "virus" of independence AND responsibility.

Take that ugly business with Alec Baldwin, for instance. Word is he's going through an ugly divorce, and his defense is that his daughter is being turned against him, so he blew a gasket.

That is a classic case of, "See What You Made Me Do?" SWYMMD is the modern "victim" version of "The Devil Made Me Do It!" and in my book has as much validity as a claim of demon possession. Baldwin needs to own up that he lost his temper and needs intervention for temper management. Given what I've seen of him in public appearances, cursing, name calling, storming out of the tv studio when someone disagrees with him... all at a time when most of us would be on our BEST behavior!... I'd hate to see him in his private UNbest behavior! Anyone who actually sympathizes with this dungtick needs a reality check.

SWYMMD is the clarion call of ALL of the "victims" of the world. To me, a REAL victim is someone who is either dead or otherwise unable to take action for him/herself in a very REAL, physical sense. All people of sound mind and body who CAN account for themselves are NOT victims, they are either good citizens who take responsibility for themselves, or SWYMMD drones claiming a form of "demon possession".

Unfortunately, it seems to be reaching epidemic proportions!

Double-plus ungood! :(

"Rescue their patriotic soul and feel terribly wounded in their patriotic pride."

Though I oppose the Iraq War and do not believe Mr. Bush will go down in history as one of America's wiser statesmen--and that is an arch understatement--every time I pass a German newsstand and catch sight of one of those slanderous caricatures (examples of which have been posted on this blog), I do feel wounded in my patriotic pride.

"Wear the famous “I am a Canadian” T-shirt and pretend they have nothing to do with their country"

I actually do have a Canadian maple leaf lapel button in a back drawer somewhere, given to me in a work-related situation. No way I'll ever wear it to avoid the stigmatization of being an American in Europe. Protective coloration? Run and hide?

Not an option. If I give up the truth of the origins of my identity, something will surely die inside that will have far greater consequences than the temporary relief provided by Canadian camouflage.

There is something to be said about just ignoring anti-Americanism. Duke Ellington, when traveling through the pre-civil rights South, managed to ward off unpleasantness simply by acting as if it didn't existed; but he, the consummate gentleman, could pull that off thanks to his musical talent and sovereign manners.

By the way, these Americans wearing Canadian T-shirts--I've never met them. Urban legend?

"...engage in the dubious mission of spreading “intercultural understanding” among neighbors or colleagues."

Not necessarily dubious. Depends on the nature of the mission and its conduct. One can, one must, challenge assumptions, subvert prejudices, and destroy bias.


Them, the Americans. Them, the blacks, Jews, Gypsies, and so on ad nauseam. How easy it is to be assigned to the group of "Loro." What hidden stream of malice does it come from?

It is encouraging that Europeans like yourself, Ms. Alini, have grasped that anti-Americanism is more than a political issue.

Reading Andy Markovitz (http://www.ustinov.at/2005_usa-europa-markovits2.htm), I came across this telling sentence:


...context means everything. Delighting in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine in an artsy movie theater in Ann Arbor, Madison, Cambridge or Berkeley is a completely different experience and has a vastly different meaning from having this film become the movie of choice about the United States among German youth, including right-wing and left-wing radicals in towns of the former East Germany, who use it as a bonding experience between and among them.

(end quote)

Context does mean everything in the transatlantic hall of mirrors.

What are the Brusselsprouts thinking?????

A European Union proposal that would allow the laws of non-EU countries to be applicable in divorce cases ran into fierce opposition from Sweden on Thursday.

...Germany is pushing for new rules under which international couples, prior to marriage, would be able to set out in a contract which country's laws will reign in a divorce court.

Germany currently holds the rotating EU presidency.....


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