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.” Continue reading “Is ‘Europe’ a Dirty Word?”

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