May 28, 2002


France? It's like 1970s America(Joe Klein, May 28, 2002, The Guardian)
Europe is in crisis, and in a fairly pissy mood besides. There is a growing "rift" with America. We are seen as naive, arrogant, unilateral barbarians. (But wasn't that always the case: "Monsewer, van rooge see voo play?") And Europe itself is becoming less fun: there is crime, there is a tide of immigrants, there are rightwing
demagogues, there are rightwing demagogues being assassinated, there are lunatic children firing weapons in schools. Indeed, the news from Europe sounds... rather American, don't you think? Could this possibly be true? Where are the accordion players of yesteryear? [...]

Think about it: In the 70s American politicians were still caught in the turbulence of the George Wallace phenomenon - Wallace, the American Le Pen, who had stood in the schoolhouse door to block integration, who had coined the greatest of all political slogans, "Send them a message!" and who had actually won primary elections in reasonably proper states like Michigan and Maryland. In the 70s, too, Americans were reacting against an exploding crime rate (it had quadrupled in the 60s) and a rush of new immigrants from such un-American places as Mexico, Korea, Vietnam, Africa and South Asia. Young people were alienated. The economy was sluggish; American products weren't nearly so nifty as those from Germany and Japan. Jimmy Carter was worried about a national "malaise", which was reflected in the polls: for the first time in the history of the country, a majority of Americans didn't think next year would be better. Much of this was handled over time: crime abated, industry reorganised itself, the immigrants proved themselves brilliant Americans, "Eczema '74" stowed the spray paint and learned computer programming, Donny and Marie Osmond retired. We vanquished the Evil Empire, and made the world safe for Disney. We've even made some progress on race. But it was rather painful there for a while. One wonders if Europe can make a similar recovery (one wonders if America can sustain its triumphs, but that's another story).

I've yet to hear one thing that Europe has in its favor as it tries tackling these problems. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2002 1:27 PM
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