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Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 2003 / 16 Adar I, 5763

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
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When have millions of Europeans ever been wrong? | With millions of Europeans demonstrating against America, many Americans, raised to regard Europe as an ally, must be wondering what is happening. Some Americans even may be wondering if Europe may be right: after all, when have millions of Europeans ever been wrong?

It is therefore essential that Americans understand the nature of the rift between America and Western Europe (not Eastern Europe, which thanks to its suffering under Communist evil, understands evil and values America) -- a rift that will only widen unless one adopts the values of the other. For at this moment, there are two civilizational wars taking place: Islamist hostility to Western liberty and European hostility to American values.

Why this European hostility?

First, Europe believes in socialism, while America believes in capitalism. This difference can hardly be overstated. Most Western Europeans believe in socialism as fervently as religious Christians, Jews and Muslims believe in their respective religions. To many Americans, socialism is only an economic system, but for Western Europeans it has largely replaced Christianity as their faith.

The United States not only rejects socialism; it is the chief obstacle to its spread -- because of its military and cultural might, and especially because of its economic success. Indeed, America is the chief impediment to the spread of both Islam and socialism. This explains the unity of leftist and Muslim activists. Though theoretically they have nothing in common, as Osama bin Laden just announced, "in the current circumstances, the interests of Muslims coincide with the interests of the socialists" -- opposing America.

Second, as a result of the massive bloodshed of the nationalism-based World Wars, Western Europeans concluded that the abolition of national identities is a moral necessity. Europe's elite decided to believe in Europe and the United Nations rather than in their individual nations. An English protester, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, explained his protest in terms of support of the United Nations, not Britain: British Prime Minister Tony Blair "has totally misjudged how destabilizing this (support for America) has been to the United Nations. And we believe in the United Nations."

Just as Europeans were losing faith in their national identities, the United States came to believe even more strongly in its distinct national identity. While Europeans and the American Left have more faith in the moral judgment of the United Nations, where Libya chairs the Human Rights Commission and Syria and China vote in the Security Council, most Americans have more faith in America.

Third, pacifist ideas dominate European society. Another major ideological consequence of the World Wars was the belief that wars are wrong, that any evil -- from Communism to Saddam Hussein or North Korea owning weapons of mass destruction -- is better than fighting. America, on the other hand, believes that it is sometimes better to fight evil. The last time many Europeans demonstrated against America was when President Ronald Reagan put Pershing missiles in Europe. Europeans thought that confronting the Soviets was provocative and wrong.

Fourth, Europe passionately affirms secularism, while America remains the most religious among the industrialized democracies. In this sphere, too, either America or Europe is right. And the predominance of America, a religious country -- one, no less, that affirms the religion the European elites have rejected -- infuriates the Europeans.

Positing no transcendent or religious basis for an objective and universal standard of good and evil, Europe disdains moral absolutes and moral judgments. Whether it was President Reagan calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire" or President Bush labeling North Korea, Iran and Iraq an "axis of evil," Europeans (and the American Left, whose values are identical) found such moral labeling contemptible.

Indeed our president personifies all that Europe dislikes in America. He comes from the business world, wears an Americans flag on his lapel, is ready to go to war against an evil regime, and believes deeply in G-d, in Christianity and America's Judeo-Christian identity. He even wears cowboy boots.

Thomas Jefferson suggested that the Great Seal of the United States depict the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. He and the other Founders knew that America's future was and must be based on leaving Europe. It is truer now than ever.

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JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to visit his website and here to comment on this column.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate