The Spanish, drawing deeply from their rich and storied two-and-a-half decades’ experience of democracy, are mumbling loudly about whether they will extradite 14 members of an al Qaeda cell to the United States. Brave members of the European Union, who feel the need to remain anonymous, explain that none of its 15 member states will violate the prohibition on extraditing anyone to a nation that uses military tribunals or imposes the death penalty.
Also this week, lawyers in Brussels (a phrase which should raise your bile as quickly as “diversity counselors at Swarthmore”) have commenced proceedings to put the prime minister of Israel on trial for “crimes against humanity,” for something done by a Syrian mercenary who later found work for the mass-murderer Hafez Assad.
And, lastly, just as it has become clear that the United States and Great Britain have orchestrated a Northern Alliance victory in Afghanistan, the French have boldly leapt into the breach. There’s a nice circularity to that: They stuck us with Southeast Asia when it was clear they couldn’t win, and they signed up for Northwest Asia when it was clear that we could.
Now, of course, we all understand that during wars everybody wants to get along (except of course for the two sides killing each other). Hell, during WWII we made nice with Stalin (Time’s “Man of the Year” more than once), even though our differences were so profound that, when the war was over, we had to dedicate the next 40 years to settling them. And I do understand that most of Europe is on our side and helping out as much as they can, or as much as they think they can.
But let’s not forget — not to put too fine a point on it — the Europeans can be jerks. Okay, hold on. Let me make clear what I mean by that. I am not using the term as a geographic or ethnic adjective. I’m using it to describe a broad coalition of self-hating intellectuals and effete bureaucrats who have either abandoned their national identities out of embarrassment (as in Germany) or are using a new “European” identity as a Trojan Horse for their own cultural ambitions (i.e., the French and Belgians). I am not talking about, for example, the millions of Italians who celebrated “USA Day” in celebration of and solidarity with Americans in the wake of September 11. I am not referring to the average Joe, Giuseppi, or Jacques who doesn’t care much for left-wing politics or grand new orders.
Indeed, that raises the first objection to all of the manicured-hand-wringing among the European cognoscenti about America’s stand on the death penalty. European nations are not very democratic. European leaders, bureaucrats, and intellectuals moan about America’s stance on the death penalty as if the very idea shocks the conscience of every nation in Western Europe. Belgian novelist Pierre Mertens recently told Time, around the time of the McVeigh execution, “It is a tragic paradox that the deluxe country among the democracies resorts to this kind of barbarity.” Last year, a gaggle of European ministers delivered a decree to our state department expressing their “concern about the increasing number of persons sentenced to death in the United States.”
So noble. So proud. So full of male mad-cow droppings.
As the decidedly liberal Joshua Marshall pointed out in The New Republic a while back, European elites imposed the death penalty ban on an unwilling, unenthusiastic public.”There is barely a country in Europe,” writes Marshall, “where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it.” “In other words,” he concludes, “if these countries’ political cultures are morally superior to America’s, it’s because they’re less democratic.”
In Britain, home of Amnesty International, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the public want to reinstate the death penalty, Marshall noted. In Italy, Europe’s anti-capital punishment trailblazer, half of voters want the death penalty returned. And in France, it took nearly 20 years after the abolition of capital punishment for a majority of the French to say they don’t want it back. And, while Marshall’s numbers are a bit old by now, I think it’s safe to say more Frenchmen want the death penalty to come back than want to bathe every day.
But forget the death penalty. This dynamic holds true across a broad array of public policies. The Euro has been rejected or postponed in every nation where it’s come up for a fair vote. Britain, Denmark, and Sweden are opting out of the Euro because they have this funny habit of listening to their own citizens. That’s why Euro-pinstripers haven’t allowed most Europeans to vote on it.
The problem with the Europeans — again, I mean the diploweenies and academic Huns — is that they’ve basically bought into the anti-European propaganda of their hard Left. In a sense this makes Americans more pro-European than the Europeans. And, conversely, it explains a big part of European anti-Americanism. America has a lot less to apologize for or feel guilty about than Europe does. Despite what a lot of fools may tell you, America really doesn’t have a colonial past like Europe’s. Sure, we kicked around Latin America a bit, but that hardly amounts to running whole countries for centuries. As for the slave trade, well, yeah, that was really bad, but the Europeans started it — obviously. Anyway, you know all that.
Meanwhile, Europeans — sitting in the shotgun seat of history rather than behind the wheel — simply have too much guilt and, worse, time on their hands (see “Europe on the Whine” ). So they side with the “oppressed” peoples of the world. They set up performance-art apologies for the Crusades — a defensive war that the Europeans lost, by the way — and go around saying they’re sorry to Jews and Arabs. And, of course, they stake out bold moral stands against the United States, a nation that has the effrontery to actually make decisions that matter.
Europe has so thoroughly bought into anti-European propaganda that the continent is now thoroughly anti-Israel. Bret Stephens had a wonderful piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal explaining how dire the case is, and I don’t have the room to go into it here. But it is worth pointing out that despite what the Europeans and their students in the Middle East think, Israel was not created via colonialism but in opposition to it. As Paul Johnson writes in Modern Times, “the notion that Israel was created by imperialism is not only wrong but the reverse of the truth. Everywhere in the West, the foreign offices, defense ministries and big businesses were against Zionism.”
Indeed, the Soviet Union backed the creation of Israel — and far more than the U.S. did — because it was a way to dissolve Britain’s imperial integrity. While I have no desire to hear from the conspiracy theorists who believe the Bildenbergers are running the show, I would like to know how it is that Israel can be an American colonial vassal while at the same time being so counter to the interests of the United States — particularly to the allegedly all-powerful oil companies?
Of course, it doesn’t matter. Facts are mere speed bumps on the road to lefty moral outrage, especially among Europeans desperate to find a Third World enabler for their own psychosis.
Indeed, perhaps no better recent example of the triumph of symbolism over substance — and of guilt and propaganda over self-confidence and moral reasoning — can be found than this week’s movement by the E.U. to “outlaw” xenophobia and racism — despite the fact that Europe is by far less racist and xenophobic than any of the countries where the alleged “victims” of its xenophobia and racism come from.
The sad fact is that, with the exception of Britain, there’s pretty much not a nation on the European continent that has the right to lecture us about human rights or how to conduct our foreign policy. Spain can hold onto these terrorists if they like, basking in their moral superiority. It may even remind some of those glorious days when they sat out World War II while their brother fascists killed millions. Though I don’t seem to recall them clacking their castanets in rage when military tribunals executed those same brother fascists for war crimes, after the war. But oh, right, they weren’t even a democracy then.
About Last Night Thanks for the support (or at least most of it) about my debut performance on Crossfire last night. I particularly appreciate the degree of slack most of you are cutting me. I realize being professionally polite and un-splenetic on TV doesn’t exactly square with the tone of this column. But that’s what the gig requires and, besides, I’m still getting my sea legs. I’m doing it again tonight — feel free to tune in. Or don’t (but tell CNN how much you liked it anyway).