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Wandering Around Europe

May 24th, 2009 - 11:30 pm

The Beauty of Europe

One can see why millions of Muslims flock to Europe. Oh, I know it is the economic and political dividends of Western consensual governments and state capitalism that provide such material and spiritual freedom. But surely some of the attraction of Europe is both the physical beauty and the infrastructure left from prior magnificent civilizations. There is nothing quite like the French Mediterranean coast, Tuscany, the hills above Rome, almost anywhere in Crete, the Peloponnesos. The combination of sea, mountains, and radical differences in climate make Europe one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the world.

Add in the infrastructure left from the classical antiquity, Church, the Renaissance, the Reformation and counter-Reformation, and 17-19th century ages of Enlightenment, and you have perhaps the most serene, accessible–both natural and human–and impressive landscapes in the world. That they are easily accessed and safe makes them far different from anything in Africa or South America.

There is a reason why we see now in American suburbs gated communities entitled “European Parc” with sort of faux-Italian villas, tile roofs, iron grates on upstairs windows, and yellow/brown/brown smooth stucco finishes, among cypress trees and Lombardy poplars, as if the builder wants to reproduce a Sienna, but with easy parking, suburban ease, and American appurtenances.

What Does Europe Do Better than We Do?

Teach languages; either by need or choice, European teens by and large speak more languages than do our own. Food. By and large, the average European eats a more varied, tasty meal than his American counterpart. Here I note in America, you can get more variety, better quality food, and better service-but most do not for a variety of reasons. Europeans know more of the past than we do-by needs no doubt. But cite a battle, a cathedral, or a famous Roman, and the odds are that Europeans more readily begin a conversation than their American counterparts. This is changing, but we took an enormous toll in the 1970-2009 era, when our schools veered off toward the therapeutic and diversity.

Anzio

There is a beautiful American military cemetery at Anzio (Nettuno, Italy), an eerie place where 7,681 dead Americans rest. It is perhaps made the more eerie when one reads of the deer-in-the-headlights generalship of a well-meaning, but inept Gen. John Lucas, and the weird megalomania of Gen. Mark Clark that cheek-by-jowl tragically ensured that a badly planned amphibious landing would get even worse as it progressed. Meanwhile Patton was cooling his heels, in punishment for slapping two American soldiers. Never has such a slap cost so many American lives-since I would have to assume at some point Patton would have been used in relief in Italy, in the manner that the inspired Gen. Lucian Truscott was.

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