In a recent post we discussed the relative safety of living in gun-toting America vs. dwelling in the ancient cities of Europe. The consensus was that while crime in the U.S. was lower, murder rates were higher. All those guns, you know.
Well, just to liven things up a bit, Paul Belien sent an email to disabuse us of that notion: the EU is beginning to pass the US in the murder and mayhem department. From Living Dangerously in Brussels, the following statistics:
Murder and manslaughter in the U.S.: 16,137 cases in 2004 (5.5 per 100,000 inhabitants).
Percent change compared to 2003: -2.4
Murder and manslaughter (moord en doodslag) in Belgium: 959 cases in 2004 (9.1 per 100,000 inhabitants).
Percent change compared to 2003: +11.12
Do yourself a favor and read his essay, Europe Must Find its Roots in America:
…History never repeats itself, and yet similarities are often so striking that in a way there is nothing new under the sun. In the 17th and 18th centuries North America was colonised by freedom loving people who brought the political institutions and traditions from Europe to a new continent across the sea. Many of them had left Europe because they wanted the freedom to live according to their own conscience instead of the conscience of the centralist absolutist rulers of the new age that was sweeping across Europe from the 16th century onwards. Their traditions were rooted in the decentralised traditions of the late Middle Ages and the Aristotelian philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Europe’s Middle Ages had been characterised by an absence of central power, while man was bound to multiple legal systems: the legal order of his city, that of the land, that of his guild, that of the church. There was not one monopolistic ruler, as in China or in the Muslim world, but many, which guaranteed greater freedom for the individual. The philosophy of Aquinas, moreover, was centered on the individual. God had called man to be free from sin, but in order to be free from sin he had to be virtuous, and in order for virtue to have any value it had to be voluntary, implying that the virtuous man had to be free in every aspect of his life including, as Aquinas’ followers later pointed out, his economic activities.
Hence the paradox came about that the civil society developing in the new continent was in a sense older than the new Modern Age of the absolutist monarchs governing Europe. When the Americans rebelled in 1776 they rebelled against absolutism in order to keep their old freedoms. Theirs was a conservative revolution. Europe had its own series of revolutions from 1789 onwards, but these were revolutions of a different sort. They toppled the ruling absolutists to replace them by absolutists of an even extremer form: totalitarians. These were not satisfied with controlling their subjects’ political and economic lives but also wished to control their minds and souls, i.e. to become their god.
American society is a society whose culture and view of mankind resembles that of the old mediaeval Europe from which it organically evolved. It puts man before the state because it accepts that man should come to God as a free being. Europe, having lived through the perversions of the Modern Age, has absorbed much of the absolutist and totalitarian spirit….
Read the whole thing, especially the beginning, where Mr. Belien points out how Ireland saved civilization during the Dark Ages. Ahem. His points about Americans’ understanding of economic functions read as though they were from one of Starling David Hunter‘s classroom lectures.