Roger L. Simon

The Pond widens

Clive Davis had a post Friday – The Country They All Love To Hate – (meaning America, of course) that is getting justifiable attention. It might generate an interesting discussion on here. Clive’s point is that even America’s best friends across The Pond are losing, in fact have lost, patience with us and that Americans are being far too blasé, even imperious, about it. Mea culpa – I have engaged in a certain amount of Europe-bashing on here, some of which was undoubtedly overstated. But I plead the excuse of the spurned lover, having always assumed that I would live out my dotage on the “culturally-superior” Continent (a nice farmhouse in Tuscany, perhaps, not too far from Firenze). Nothing could be further from my thoughts now. To be honest, while I think Clive is correct about some nouveau “ugly Americanism,” Europe has got such severe problems of its own that the the latest round of escalating Yankee Go Home (or stay out) mood smacks of a bit out of the old Freudian projection (i. e. blame the other for your problems). Probably both sides are at fault here, to walk a safe middle line. But of the arguments Clive mentions, one he dismisses out of hand – the you won’t be here in 30 years nastiness – strikes me as worthy of a second thought. I don’t mean this in the apocalyptic sense that Clive posed it (bit of a straw man there), but to many of us Americans who have been visiting Europe all our lives, it is not the same place. Europe is far less able to assimilate its minorities and guest workers than we are, even given the recent (notably non-violent) immigration demonstrations here. Much of that is not Europe’s fault, but the result of Islamic cultures and belief systems that are still in the Dark Ages and have little desire to be assimilated. Nevertheless, Europe has a conundrum and has not so far been able to figure out how to deal with it. Maybe that’s impossible ; epochal forces have been unleashed. Americans watching that have a right to be worried. Historically, as most of us realize to our dismay, in the end we in the New Country have been called upon to be the grownup. That’s never fun.

By the way, I would agree with Clive that the public relations aspect of the Bush Administration has been a disaster. It’s hard to believe they are so unsophisticted about that. The appointment of Tony Snow may be an improvement, but much more is needed.