Re: European vs. American Fanaticism

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 07:37:43 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:
> Anders writes
> > I think you Americans have no monopoly on silliness - it is
> > just that you are much better and more entertaining at it.
> I must hasten to explain, said Lee modestly, that we Americans
> do not have an innate talent at being silly. Our formidable
> skill arose, as so many things do, from a great deal of practice.

The only way the biggest kid on the playground can avoid being resented
is to become the class clown.

> More seriously, Mike Lorrey writes
> > I consider the issues at the basis of european extremism to be
> > rather simple, while their solutions are hilariously ludicrous.
> > American examples of extremism (slavery, civil rights, taxation
> > without representation, the desire to not live under the threat
> > of nuclear annihilation, the desire to not live in a police state)
> > are all rather profound issues of the human condition.
> Those don't sound extreme to me; but perhaps that's your point.

Yes, they are extreme measures to settle profound issues, rather than
extreme measures to settle minor issues with nutty solutions.

> > You'd have to LIKE living like a lemming in a fishbowl in a house
> > full of hungry cats to enjoy the sort of extremism that occurs in
> > Europe. I'm sure that such is just fine for some people, but we
> > are over here specifically because we DONT like it.
> Actually, your being born here may have had more to do with it :-)
> Also, as all the do-gooders used to say about U.S. and Soviet
> tendencies, "they are becoming more like us, and we are becoming
> more like them", a prospect I'm sure that you dread.

Actually, it was a matter of the family being forcibly transported way
back when...

> Amara adds
> >> So there is something going on.
> > Europe is made of many many very different cultures.
> > Your subject line reveals your bias, Lee.
> I can only infer from this that you believe that the fanaticism
> exhibited historically by Germany, Italy, Russia, France (in the
> revolution) and Yugoslavia (recently) have no common denominator.
> I suspect that they do; or rather, that there is an explanation
> as to why America has been spared. Further, I still think that
> the Americans were fanatical about waging World War II (commendably
> so, I should say), and are equally fanatical about anti-smoking,
> and that possibly there is a common denominator (maybe Puritanism,
> as Mitch and Tiberius suggested).

Well, I'd add the British, in their hellbound rush to institute Orwell's
dystopia these days, to the list of nutty european countries. Moreover,
I'd say we were rather not fanatical about waging WWII: We resisted
entering the war for two years, we refused to carpet bomb blindly at
night as the British gleefully did, and unlike the Russians, we captured
far more German prisoners than we killed, rather than the reverse. Our
only 'extremism' was in dropping two nukes on Japan, which was more a
matter of a lack of desire to sustain 1-2 million casualties in trying
to take the Japanese home islands than any sort of actual extremism. An
extremist would have gladly sustained such casualties (as the Russians,
Japanese, and Germans all did in battle, and as the Jews did in their
extreme dedication to their wrong headed pacifism and personal

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