Saturday, April 21, 2007

European social commentators understand little about America

Over the last week, European social commentators have wasted no time in pointing the finger of blame for the Virginia Tech massacre.

Hot on the heels of their recent front page headline: "50 reasons to love the European Union", the Virginia Tech massacre has provided the Independent with another opportunity to prove how morally superior Europe is to the United States. Their Wednesday editorial was predictable:
...Then there is the nature of US society, which is more divided, more pressured and more ruthless in almost every way than any society in Europe. The Atlantic is, in this respect, a more definitive cultural boundary than it often seems. There are outsiders and misfits everywhere, but communities in the US - be they schools, colleges, businesses, small towns or suburbs - can be particularly unforgiving. So far, the advantages of the American way of life - its vitality and high rewards for success - have been deemed to outweigh the liabilities....
Much of Europe's media have followed a similar agenda, but all they've done is proved their ignorance. In recent years, there have been gun massacres in Switzerland (which may not be a member of the EU but is very much part of Europe) and in Germany. And 11 years ago, Britain had its own massacre. Overall, Europe has had fewer mass killings, but that may be more to do with stricter gun laws than any moral superiority. And Europe has its fair share of social problems. Witness the civil unrest in France in 2005, Europe's continued failure to integrate its Muslim immigrants, and the popularity of far right political parties.

Europeans tend to think of the United States as one homogeneous society, they forget how large and diverse it is. Whilst you can buy an AK47 by mail order in some States, in other places such as New York or Washington DC, guns laws are every bit as strict as in Europe. Europeans also forget that Americans have a historical ambivalence towards government. Ever since they overthrew British colonial rule, they are distrustful of politicians telling them what to do, it helps explain their rejection of stricter gun laws.

Maybe it's about time we took a look at some of America's virtues, particularly its immigrants. To quote this week's Spectator:
...Yet the reality of evil is mirrored in the persistence of good. The unspeakable depravity of Cho found its match in the heroism of Professor Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor, who blocked a classroom door to save his students before perishing. That, rather than the present cacophony of half-baked sociology, should be our abiding memory of the Virginia massacre.