When I was in Denmark last spring, I noticed something unusual: Nobody was lecturing me.
One of the things an American gets used to in Europe is being lectured. I lived in England in my youth, during the Vietnam years, and I was lectured frequently by the English about the war. At various times I was also lectured by French, German, Dutch, and Belgian exchange students.
In the intervening years I have been lectured by Europeans visiting the USA; Germans seem especially fond of the pastime. For some reason it comes naturally to most Europeans: “Look, there’s an American! Let’s give him a lecture!” There’s something about an American that invites correction.
But the Danes were an exception. They seemed to have no problem taking an American as he is, without feeling the need to improve him.
What a refreshing change! Just one more thing to like about Denmark.
I mention all this because one of the tasks this blog has taken on is to bridge the gap between Europe and the United States, in an attempt to find common ground against the Great Jihad. Many Americans have distorted views about Europe, and one of our missions is to shine some light on the situation in various European countries for an American audience.
Ignorance, however, runs in both directions. Many Europeans are ill-informed about the variety to be found in American culture, and also about what all Americans hold in common.
In a way, educating Europe about the USA is more difficult than vice versa, because most Europeans think they already understand America. They know our language, and they see so much of our country on television and in the movies — it gives them the illusion that they understand American culture, when what they really understand is American television culture. The real culture and the TV culture overlap somewhat, but they are by no means the same thing.
I tried to explain the nature of the problem in an email to a European reader:
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Your view of America may be somewhat simplistic, just as most American views of Europe are.
American opinion on Europe can be divided up into four broad categories:
1. Profoundly ignorant and mostly indifferent. I’ll wager that this is the attitude of the vast majority of Americans. Europe is a quaint place that you sometimes visit on a vacation, kind of like Disney World, only colder. The opinion of people in this group could be summed up as: “Europe? Who gives a s**t?” This attitude can sometimes be vaguely antagonistic, especially towards Europeans who condescend to Americans, as many Europeans do. 2. Relatively educated, anti-European. People in this group say, “Europe is doomed. And they deserve it!” This is the Ralph Peters category. Other well-known Americans are supping from this little cesspool right now. 3. Educated and effete pro-European. This is the John Kerry model. Americans in this category love the EU. They identify with the European elites. They go skiing in Switzerland and sunbathing on the Riviera. They are Eurabia’s fellow travelers. 4. Not so effete pro-European. This is the category that many of the Americans showing up in recent GoV comments fall into. They have become well-informed enough to understand the general nature of what’s going on in Europe, and realize that they have a visceral sympathy for people whose traditional culture is being trashed. People who live in the Southwest or consider unlimited Mexican immigration to be a problem are likely to fall in this category. This is also the fastest-growing category.
There’s no hope for Categories #2 and #3.
My mission in this blog is to reach out and find people who can be pulled out of Category #1 and moved into Category #4.
I have been successful in this regard with quite a few of them; they write me emails and tell me that I have opened their eyes to what’s going on in Europe. They provide cause for optimism about America’s eventual response to the Islamization of Europe.
It would help, of course, if some Europeans were less condescending and snotty towards such Americans, but I doubt that’s likely to change; it has been that way for the forty-odd years I’ve been paying attention to such things.
The people in Category #1 (and #4) are the backbone of America, and they are ridiculed at least as much by Americans in Category #3 as they are by Europeans.
But they are my friends and neighbors, and I know who they are. Hundreds of thousands of people like them gave their lives in Europe in two world wars.
Someday, when I get more time, I will try to explain these Category #1 people. It’s a difficult job, because non-Americans (and even snobby elitist Americans) have a media stereotype of such folks that has to be unlearned before the truth can begin to sink in. I had to move to the Virginia countryside and get to know people on their own terms before I could fully understand this kind of American.
I’m convinced that America will be saved by them — they are in the majority, and yet they passively submit to all the crap that’s being shoveled on top of them by the media and their cultural superiors. When they stop being passive, as they inevitably will, everything will change.
They’re not politically correct, and kicking butt is just fine with them, even if the hindquarters being kicked belong to members of a Protected Ethnic Group.
Until I was in my late twenties I was a suburban American, which meant that I had the same ideas about the American heartland that a European might have. My concept of what went on in the Empty Quarter of the USA was based on television and the movies, but The Beverly Hillbillies and Deliverance do not provide a particularly good education about what America is like outside the great metropolitan areas.
So what do you expect to find out there in flyover country?
Hicks. Rubes. Hayseeds. Crackers. Bumpkins.
In a word, rednecks.
These are the average Americans, and you’ll have to take my word for it: you don’t learn the truth about them on television.
I had to move to the countryside to learn what it felt like to be stupid, and ignorant, and uninformed. The people here in rural Virginia were kind and patient with a city boy like me, bearing with my city-slicker ways until I learned the ropes.
I went go to church with them, and raised my child here, and became a Cub Scout leader, and voted in local elections. After twenty or twenty-five years away from the city, I started to get an idea about what the real America is all about. That’s what gives me my optimism about our future.
I’m a computer programmer, so when a computer plays a prominent role in the plot of a movie, I watch it with a critical eye. A movie computer invariably causes me to guffaw, point at the screen, and exclaim, “Look at that! That’s absurd! How stupid can you get?”
I presume that every profession reacts the same way to its media mirror. Lawyers and policeman must laugh at Law and Order. Doctors must laugh at E.R.
And ordinary Americans must find Hollywood rednecks and television country folk to be ludicrous. The media’s treatment of Christianity, for example, is ridiculous. With rare exceptions, the depiction of Christians on television and in the movies is stereotypical, derogatory, and insulting, and has nothing to do with real Christianity as experienced by the average American churchgoer.
Fortunately for everybody, none of this matters to most Americans. We’re used to being lectured and insulted by our betters; we simply take it in stride.
And when the situation turns nasty, as it invariably does — when the smoke rises over Pearl Harbor or the Twin Towers fall — from among all these rubes and rednecks the rough men arise, ready to do violence on our behalf.