Has-Been Europe; Former Colonies Have Surpassed the Continent

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 19, 2004 | Go to article overview

Has-Been Europe; Former Colonies Have Surpassed the Continent


Byline: Barry Casselman, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The United States is a child of Europe. Thanks to our national language and our legal system, we are closest most of all to Great Britain, but because of millions of Italians, Germans, Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans who emigrated from Europe in the past century, our ties to that continent remain.

In the present crisis, it is noteworthy that our relationship with our English ally, once our bitter foe in the decolonizing era of 1776-1815, is so durable and so reliable. France especially, as well as Germany, Belgium, and now Spain, have each distanced themselves from our efforts, but many more European nations have joined with us.

European public opinion, it is widely known, has opposed Anglo-American efforts in Iraq today. This seems to be a source of great embarrassment to many of those Americans who also oppose our initiative in Iraq. But this should surprise no one. Most American intellectual, artistic and educational elites have been in the thrall of continental European culture for almost two centuries.

Of course, Chinese civilization and Islamic civilization had previously invented most of the phenomena which became the basis of European ascendancy (including movable type and literature, engineering, science, mathematics and medicine). Europe was not ever really an original culture, it was a extraordinary derivative culture. What Europe did contribute to the world in the centuries of its hegemony, however, was modern colonialism. This colonialism, including the settlement of French, Belgians, Spaniards, Dutch, Portuguese and Italians in much of Africa, North and South America and Asia, proved to be violent and oppressive, Their former colonies today still bear many scars, including economic, social and governmental instability. Often with large populations and incredible natural resources, many of these former European colonies remain unfulfilled and unsuccessful. British colonialism was in many ways equally violent and oppressive. and even perhaps on a larger scale, but its former colonies today are for the most part quite distinctly not Third World. Ranging from New Zealand, Australia, India and Canada, to the United States, they are all successful democracies, and represent more than a quarter of the world's population.

Does this mean anything?

Apparently not to American intellectuals and cultural critics who continue to deify everything European and to demonize everything American. Europeans, however, continue to adopt and adapt American culture to their own as quickly as they can. …

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