Is ‘Europe’ a Dirty Word?

Europe seems to have become a sort of scare word, if not, indeed, a swear word for Republicans involved in the presidential campaign. Thus, Romney warned his electorate that Obama ‘wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state”, while Santorum dreaded that the same infamous person is “trying to impose some sort of European socialism on the United States.”

Such statements reveal not only the classic irationality of election campaigns, but also the utter cultural ignorance of most American politicians. Nicholas Kristof ofthe New York Times, in an article from which I have borrowed the quotations above, is asking what would be so bad if something like what is below would happen in America:

It’s a languid morning in Peoria, as a husband and wife are having breakfast. “You’re sure you don’t want eggs and bacon?” the wife asks. “Oh, no, I prefer these croissants,” the husband replies. “They have a lovely je ne sais quoi.”

He dips the croissant into his café au-lait and chews it with zest. “What do you want to do this evening?” he asks. “Now that we’re only working 35 hours a week, we have so much more time. You want to go to the new Bond film?”

“I’d rather go to a subtitled art film,” she suggests. “Or watch a pretentious intellectual television show.”

“I hear Kim Kardashian is launching a reality TV show where she discusses philosophy and global politics with Bernard-Henri Lévy,” he muses. “Oh, chérie, that reminds me, let’s take advantage of the new pétanque channel and host a super-boules party.”.

“Parfait! And we must work out our vacation, now that we can take all of August off. Instead of a weekend watching ultimate fighting in Vegas, let’s go on a monthlong wine country tour.”

“How romantic!” he exclaims. “I used to worry about getting sick on the road. But now that we have universal health care, no problem!”

This irony is fully deserved, I believe, for, even if Europe has its problems, which we Europeans know too well, it is far from being the kind of socialist hell that the neocons are tryign to paint. I for one would easily chose life in Europe to living in America, with all its material benefits.

Read HERE Kristof’s article and take to heart his call to decency and reality.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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