Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday's Quote: An admonishment from across the pond

A recent feature in the Wall Street Journal by someone whose name I instantly recognized was brought to my attention during a family gathering Saturday afternoon.  Astute and comprehensive in his analysis, Daniel Hannan recently authored a superb piece about the relevance of the differences between the United States and Europe, and why Obama may want us to be just like them.

The highlights of Hannan's magnificent offering are as follows:

"American conservatives have struggled to press [Obama's] policies into a meaningful narrative.  Is he a socialist?  No, at least not in the sense of wanting the state to own key industries.  Is he a straightforward New Deal big spender, in the model of FDR and LBJ?  Not exactly.

"My guess is that, if anything, Obama would verbalize his ideology using the same vocabulary that Eurocrats do.  He would say he wants a fairer America, a more tolerant America, a less arrogant America, a more engaged America.  When you prize away the cliché, what these phrases amount to are higher taxes, less patriotism, a bigger role for state bureaucracies, and a transfer of sovereignty to global institutions. ...

"I don't doubt the sincerity of those Americans who want to copy the European model.  A few may be snobs who wear their euro-enthusiasm as a badge of sophistication.  But most genuinely believe that making their country less American and more like the rest of the world would make it more comfortable and peaceable. ...

"The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction.  When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless.  For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine — that the nation-state must be transcended — is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.

"This doctrine has had several malign consequences.  For example, it has made the assimilation of immigrants far more difficult.  Whereas the U.S. is based around the idea that anyone who buys into American values can become American, the [European Union] clings to the notion that national identities are anachronistic and dangerous.  Unsurprisingly, some newcomers, finding their adopted countries scorned, have turned to other, less apologetic identities. ...

"Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization?  As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms.  The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia.  Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright.  But our freedoms live on in America."
-- from "A European's Warning to America" by Daniel Hannan, a Member of the European Parliament, representing South East England for the Conservative Party, and in Europe, the European Conservatives and Reformists.  He is also a journalist whose blog is featured by The Daily Telegraph, which boasts of the highest newspaper circulation in the UK.

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