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Yup, that's my topic for today. I was reminded of it when I read Johann Hari's recent post explains the many reasons why he believes the Republican party is turning into a cult of sorts.. Among their many, many counter-factual ideas (e.g. global warming, evolution) he reminded me of another one: "They insist Europe has fallen to Islam, since Muslims immigrants are becoming a majority and are imposing sharia law."

As a pretty Europeanized American, I was taken entirely by surprise when I first encountered this nonsense. My old neighbors and friends were secretly turning Muslim? Who knew?! Even more intriguing: Republicans, after decades of deriding Europe at every available opportunity, are now deeply worried about its welfare? It's weird.

That said, there is in fact a cultural threat of sorts going on. It's just not what the wingnuts think it is. Read on...

But first, let's get back to the charges, levied by, among others, the inimitable Michele Bachmann:

[...] we are seeing that those who are coming into France -- which had a beautiful culture -- the French culture is actually diminished. It's going away. And just with the population of France they are losing Western Europeans and it's being taken over by muh...by a Muslim ethic. Not that Muslims are bad. But they are not assimilating.

Wow.. France isn't threatened - France has apparently already fallen. She actually speaks of French culture in the past tense! So Bachmann manages to be more extreme in her 'defense of French culture' than Jean-Marie Le Pen himself. That's not easy!

One of the main origins of much of this would appear to be the racist-wingnut tome "America Alone" (scathingly reviewed by Hari). It has been touted by ostensibly less batshit-crazy Republicans like former Sen. Ted "Tubes" Stevens.

Now, to refute this idea is really very easy. Muslims are a tiny minority in Europe; and are relatively moderate and secularized. This isn't to say that there aren't problems with immigrant integration. There certainly are. But it is simply ridiculous to cast that as a threat against European culture. It's simply a contradiction in terms: Immigrants who do not assimilate cannot affect the majority culture, because they're outside it. You can't change a culture from the outside. It's not possible.

Once people integrate, they're not viewed as a threat - except by those who are out-and-out racists. Then, cultural influence is possible. If döner kebab was a strange foreign food, Europeans wouldn't be eating it as much. To most it's no more foreign than hamburgers. (Nor should it be: While the hamburger originated in Germany, it's mostly an American invention. The döner originated in Turkey, but is mostly a European invention by Turkish immigrants). Who's scared of kebab? I've seen Nazi skinheads eat kebab!

Of course a Chinese takeaway isn't about to turn you into a Confucian. Foreign customs are, well, 'foreign'. Arabic is a very foreign language to Europeans. Islam is a very foreign faith (at least in the west and north).

Real threats.
Cultures do, in fact, disappear. Oh, French or German or British culture isn't about to - they're as big as they've ever been. But what about the others?

To Republicans it seems my second home, Sweden, is next to be flattened by the imaginary Muslim-immigrant steamroller. And this is supposedly a tragedy, as Sweden was so "racially pure". (In Sweden itself, such a statement would be considered to be outright Nazism. A TV host who said as much wouldn't likely be apologizing, they'd be unemployed.)

Well, it's true that Sweden is more diverse than it once was. My Swedish mother was fourteen when she saw a black person "IRL" for the first time (1960) - and that was a visiting American blues band.

Since before the war, but at an increased rate since, Sweden has increasingly fallen under the influence of a foreign culture. Not Arabic or Muslim, but rather Anglo-American. The web, is of course overwhelmingly English-language and American. Most programs on Swedish TV are American. Looking at what's currently playing at the Sergel multiplex in Stockholm, and I see that 18 out of 21 movies playing are American. One has screenings without subtitles (only children's movies are dubbed.)

As many know, their English is second-to-none among those who learn it as a second language. That's highly commendable. But it worries me when they use it at the expense of their own language. Which is increasingly often. Modern Swedish, especially among young people and business types, is increasingly peppered with English phrases and expressions. Even very mundane ones. It's not untypical to hear a young Swede say "It sounds better in English".

It doesn't. A phrase that sounds mundane in Swedish sounds equally mundane in English. (To the native speaker) It's silly. But the tragedy is: What they should be doing in those cases, is learning a less mundane way of expressing themselves in their own language. I feel they don't value their language as highly. (although there are some signs this may be changing)

That's a threat to their culture. It's not the neighbor who speaks Arabic and some broken Swedish. It's the native Swede whose choses not to use their language! The threat to their culture is not my Arab friend Fahmi who enjoys reading Ekelöf, it's the Swede who'd rather watch "Sex and the City"!

Swedes no longer use their own language when writing about the Natural Sciences. They're decreasingly using it in many business contexts. That's what linguists call a "domain loss" - and it's a real threat to a language. And language is an integral part of culture.

The threat to European culture.. is us. American cultural hegemony. Not immigrants, not Muslims. I'll go head-to-head with any wingnut on this!

For every single "ethnically Christian" Swede you can find me who's converted to Islam, I'll find you a dozen who've become Scientologists, or Jehovas Witnesses or some other new religion imported from the USA.

For every single young Swede you can find celebrating Ramadan, I'll find you a hundred going to a novelty 'Halloween party'. (Which directly competes with the domestic tradition of All Saints)

Dutch kids are getting to know Santa Claus better than they know Sinterklaas. In Sweden, Santa's already usurped the present-giving role of the Swedish Yule Goat, and Coca-Cola has a massive advertising blitz every winter to try to get Swedes to buy their crap instead of the traditional Julmust.

If you didn't know, they run the same ads almost everywhere. Cultural differences don't need to be respected, unless it causes a drop in sales. It would cost money to produce a new ad for every little market. That would lower profits! It would indeed be the most profitable thing to only have one culture. Since we're the most consumption-crazed culture in the world and the most commercialized culture in the world, it logically follows that the best thing for profits would be if everyone was American.

Insofar there's a threat, we're it.

In closing...
I'd just like to say that I know it's not really our fault - as Americans, we can't blame ourselves for other people imitating us. As I hope I made the case: Nobody outside can threaten a culture. Or save it. But I do think we need to be self-conscious about our role.

I've also found that this argument can be devastatingly effective. No foreign culture has had anywhere near the influence on European cultures that we've had. And make no mistake: We're a foreign culture. Its the idea that we're somehow not, that's the threat.

Originally posted to BluePlatypus on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 03:35 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We're all living in Amerika... (6+ / 0-)

    I can haz rashunality?

    by Troubadour on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 03:49:55 PM PDT

  •  As a European (16+ / 0-)

    Getting pretty sick of these claims about Europe which are A) Hugely Racist B) Hugely Wrong. Like the Islamophobic Martin Amis complaining about the 2% Muslim population out breeding the rest of us.

    Luckily they the dumb huge minority of racists.

    "You show me a capitalist, and I'll show you a bloodsucker." - Malcolm X

    by Dr Marcos on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 03:51:14 PM PDT

  •  100 years ago... (10+ / 0-)

    ...she and the others would have been bitching about the "swarthy" Italians and their allegiance to the pope.  Besides, isn't the social conservatism on sexuality and gender something that they'd welcome, since they apparently wish to impose that on us, unwillingly, here?

    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

    by Alec82 on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:04:05 PM PDT

    •  Values (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, lakehillsliberal, Predictor, Alec82

      Oh yes. Especially from a Swedish perspective. Their values are very Social-Democratic (even the ones who don't vote for them)

      Less than 20% of Swedes consider themselves Christians. Less than half of that attend church. The right to abortion isn't even on the political radar - it's unquestionable. Even their Christian Democrat party doesn't challenge it.

      Full gay marriage was legalized with support of 6 out of 7 parties, 95% of the parliament!

      Their current controversy over religion in schools is not whether religion should be allowed in public schools, it's whether religious schools should be permitted at all.

      From a mainstream Swedish perspective, Bachmann is way closer to the Taliban than she is to their values.

      •  Oh, AND... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, Ahianne, fran1

        Many of the immigrants I know there really love their egalitarian values! They don't take it for granted.

        The Arab friend I mentioned? Well, he's a full professor. Once he happened to mention to his father that it was his turn to clean the kitchenette in the department break room that week. I was told:

        He lit up like a light bulb. 'You had to clean the kitchen?! I love this country! In Syria, a professor won't even have to open a door for himself! In this country, even professors have to help clean the kitchen! Amazing!' Then he called his friend to tell him about how amazing he thought it was.

  •  I wonder if those (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Hannibal, zenox

    people who are so concerned about the Muslim threat to Europe were equally concerned about the White Man threat to the Native Americans here in America?

    I remember visiting Sweden about 15 years ago. I was in Gothenburg. I recall the name of a store, "2nd hand affar", which in English means 2nd hand store. In other words, they had taken the Swedish word and replaced part of it with English. I thought it was really sad.

    •  Of course not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mickT, JDsg, MyLifeInKenya

      We were just bringing civilization to those dirty savages. It's all for their own good. It's an ongoing process though, have to tell them how much livestock they can have, to keep them from "Overgrazing." (Keep them from being competitive with white ranchers.) To telling them to move so that a good, God fearing mining company can destroy their land. It's a lot of work, but we do it out of love.

      •  Islam (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fran1, Hannibal, JDsg, budr

        did actually bring civilisation to the savages in Europe. Way back when. Europe retaliated by bringing savagery to the Islamic countries, which, because it happened more recently, is a good part of the problem.

        Ici s´arrète la loi.

        by marsanges on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:31:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You mean the Moors? n/t (0+ / 0-)

          We learn through living that our lives are based on suffering, self-deception and quiet desperation.

          by Void Indigo on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:54:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  nah... the mirror image of a half truth is still (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terabytes

          a half truth...

          "Europe" savages... yeah...if you leave out the half that was ruled by the Byzantines who were partly "European" who the early Arabs inherited a good chunk of their culture from in the first place and ignore the culture of the Franks and The Italians and Greeks and others and pretend they were all savages... why? Even Northern Europe had advanced cultures... the average peasant in England did not have a worse life than a peasant in Egypt... other than being used to a cold winter.. The average person was illiterate and relied on a small number of educated and upper class people to handle all the "Advance culture" stuff...

          There are many reasons for the "Dark Ages" which as it happens were not nearly as dark as the Christian Monks version of it portrays it as...  

          Barbarism is in the eye of the beholder and it is not mystery that Arab histories refer the lands of Christendom as uncouth or ignorant... just as they in turn had similar unflattering notions about the "Paynim".

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 06:02:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True, but.. (if I may interject) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JDsg

            Some cases are fairly clear-cut, IMO. The Ottomans in the 15th century were more civilized than the Balkan/Central European countries they were invading. A peasant under Ottoman rule was better off than one in Hungary or wherever, because the feudal system was a worse, less advanced, form of government.

            European peasants had no opportunity to improve their status, whereas in the Ottoman empire they could, like the famous example of Ibrahim Pasha, rise from slave all the way to Grand Vezir! Many significant Ottoman figures were not only non-noble and non-Turkish but born as non-Muslims.

            That kind of tolerance and meritocratic governance just didn't exist in most of contemporary Europe.

            But yes, you'd have to compare it all on a case-by-case basis. In my case: Muslims were building the Dome of the Rock when my ancestors were sacrificing humans in wooden temples... Sweden's biggest contribution to philosophy is having killed Descartes. :)

    •  Stores.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg

      An interesting observation I once made, is that Swede-owned stores often have English names and/or signs - but immigrant-owned stores (often kiosks and the like) have their signs in Swedish - even if it's often misspelled!

      Immigrants don't take the language for granted, and neither do we Americans. You want to tell them "Be yourselves, not a bad copy of us! There's enough of us already!"

  •  Tipped and recd! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler
  •  aren't conservatives supposed to hate france? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Ahianne, Hannibal, Alec82

    i want my goddamn freedom fries!

    -9.38/-8.26 "Well I might look like Robert Ford, but I feel just like Jesse James" - Bob Dylan

    by cats in the curry on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:12:55 PM PDT

  •  Döner Kebab is everywhere (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, Alec82

    By many different names. Shawarma, Gyros, and Al Pastor all come to mind. Maybe that's the real reason the Minutemen are so worried about people coming up here from south of the border, they're afraid we'll end up with our own version of döner kebab, and destroy our once pure culture.

  •  Very good diary. (7+ / 0-)

    as Americans, we can't blame ourselves for other people imitating us

    thats expressing very neatly what annoys me so much with my fellow europeans. I´m in Holland, which is one of the most strongly americanizing countries round here. And people feel the cultural loss - they are uneasy and angry about parts of it - but they make it themselves, in their choices. There would be no need. But they seem to want it. Now, I´m myself on this board here instead of the Euro Tribune, so I´m sitting rather in a glasshouse as it were. But indeed this is one of the most pronounced problems we have in Europe - our self-incapacitation, in the face of American culture. It would not be necessary, not at all. (An associated theme is that it is actually we Europeans who are really conducting the so called "war on terror" which is the struggle with islamic fundamentalism - because its a struggle within or own population in fact - the US is really of minor importance in the true "war"; we and the people of the Near and MidEast will determine the outcome.) (And the entire conflict is in fact a continuation of the overall conflict between Europe and the Islamic world that has been going on since the 1860s about). (Osama´s New York attack was a diversion, nothing more.) (Never did the American right wingers have it more wrong than when they boasted that OBL wanted to destroy their way of life - OBL wasnt interested in that way of life in the least, but very much in the way of life of Muslims in Europe, which we are by necessity also very interested in, there lies the real struggle.)

    Ici s´arrète la loi.

    by marsanges on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:28:39 PM PDT

    •  Errr Holland's not a country (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plutonium Page

      It's a region of a country, last I heard.

      •  Lol (7+ / 0-)

        its a "country", with apostrophes :)

        technically you are right. The Netherlands is the country, which includes even Aruba etc. in America. Holland is 2 provinces but some 2/3 of the Dutch live in these so in general parlance, Holland and Netherland are used interchangeably. Unless you´re talking locally which we arent, here.

        It´s very small. And its people are Big. Soon they´ll all be over two meters. I don´t know how that will fit.

        Ici s´arrète la loi.

        by marsanges on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:35:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I'd heard (7+ / 0-)

          You've got the tallest white people now. Americans used to be the tallest, now we're just the widest. Don't follow that path, it's greasy, and very unattractive.

          •  I went to a demonstration... (8+ / 0-)

            ... in Amsterdam, against Geert Wilders and his racism (speaking of Islamophobia).

            Everyone else was so much taller than I was that I couldn't see the stage with the speakers. The only other people my height were some of the imams from the local mosques.

            My husband is Dutch. He's very tall.

            Glenn Beck seems the very essence of a one-clown pie fight. His brain wears gigantic puffy shoes and comes with a bicycle horn. -- Hunter

            by Page van der Linden on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:40:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  hey thank you for helping. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              melo, mickT, Ahianne, Hannibal, JDsg

              updating you, you may know that we have an election soon upcoming, and Wilders was for a while the biggest party in the polling, recently, even surpassing the CDA. On the order of 25% of the electorate. But I think polling is unreliable. Either way, people expect a huge Geert Wilders return in the national parliament. We will then have to see whether we can have a "cordon sanitaire" as they had in Belgium. I am not hopeful. This will be a real test for the Dutch society.

              In my hometown (village) they´re the biggest party already. Among my work colleagues (ca 40 at that specific place) there are sure to be Wilders supporters, but the issue is generally not discussed with "outsiders" (which we expats are).

              Ici s´arrète la loi.

              by marsanges on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:51:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Not in general parlance... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo, Hannibal, JDsg, Alec82, freesia

          ... among the Dutch.

          They'll LOL if you call it "Holland".

          Though sometimes they'll call it that if they're talking to a non-Nederlander, since they assume no one would know what they were talking about if they said "the Netherlands".

          Glenn Beck seems the very essence of a one-clown pie fight. His brain wears gigantic puffy shoes and comes with a bicycle horn. -- Hunter

          by Page van der Linden on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:38:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, Hannibal, marsanges, freesia

        There's Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland, but they're part of the Netherlands ;-)

        I used to live in Noord-Holland myself.

        Glenn Beck seems the very essence of a one-clown pie fight. His brain wears gigantic puffy shoes and comes with a bicycle horn. -- Hunter

        by Page van der Linden on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:37:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ha! I do now. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo, JDsg, freesia

          But barely. A few km south of here comes Zuid Holland.

          I don´t know what to make of this country, after having lived here for ten years, I am not sure that I´ll ever be able to call it my home. Mostly, my distrust is growing. I expect that I´ll get the boot when I´m past working age and no longer "contributing". The Dutch can be very direct in these things. and it is one thing to point to EU regulations and quite another to see them lived up to in practice. Then on the other hand, I really do have a rather secure status as EU citizen. But the Wilders thing makes me uneasy. We do not have a guarantee how things will develop. I was thinking of switching nationality - not a big deal after all - but Wilders makes me think that it may be good to have a nationality of which you are absolutely sure that it will not be challenged.

          maybe this is a bit migrant paranoia as well.

          Ici s´arrète la loi.

          by marsanges on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 05:04:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I used to live in Zuid-Holland. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            melo

            My family still lives there. They see the rise of Geert Wilders more as a response to the pendulum swinging a bit too far in the direction of political correctness and tolerance. The Dutch are maybe feeling taken advantage of, and don't forget, the place is getting crowded!  They don't want Geert Wilders' policies, they just want some opposition to be heard so that the other parties can be kept from going to extremes on the other side. They have their 25%-ers just like we do, and I do not think the other 75% are too worried.
            There will be plenty of noise and discussion, but that is nothing new. My brother used to watch the debates in the House of Rep's, hoping for a fist fight!

            •  I found this particular comment of interest... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              melo

              ...and don't forget, the place is getting crowded!

              ...given that I had come across this particular blog post the other day.  Based on this architect's research, I'd say that the notion that "the Netherlands is getting crowded" is more of an urban legend passing itself off as "fact" rather than reflecting reality.

              Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

              by JDsg on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 11:18:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Visit my home town (0+ / 0-)

                and compare it to a mere ten years ago. Urban legend my big toe. Just because in theory you could fit all inhabitants in a very small space if only you stacked them 30- or 40 stories high, does not mean you otherwise have a non-crowded country.

    •  i wish you would (0+ / 0-)

      come share more at www.eurotrib.com , marsanges, you have some really interesting points of view, and i'm sure would be welcome.

      why? just kos..... *just cause*

      by melo on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 05:40:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heh, Bachmann wouldn't know French culture (8+ / 0-)

    if it bit her on the ass.

    These dimple-brains use "culture" and "civilization" as euphemisms for "MY religion" and "MY people".

    How often do you hear them lament how Milton studies have fallen off, or how few people can appreciate Schubert, or how their kids can't tell Matisse from Vlaminck and can't recite a single stanza from the Aeneid?

    A nation is a mutual undertaking. - Roger Ebert

    by Bob Love on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:31:13 PM PDT

    •  We must save the French in Indo-China! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, truong son traveler, JDsg

      Plenty of anti-Catholic bigots in 1950s America had no problem with arming Catholic France to oppress Vietnam, and then arming the Catholic, French-speaking landlords to oppress Vietnam after Dien Bien Phu.

      But then De Gaulle realized his people had to give up the madness of empire and the "mission civilisatrice" (sp?), so he got out of Algeria, got friendly with Hanoi, pulled out of NATO's command structure, and built enough nukes to deter the Soviets without US help.  Suddenly, we all hated the French's guts.

      Apparently, a Catholic or a Jew is one of "them" when he is in direct conflict with us Protestant Americans, but he becomes one of "us" when he is in conflict with a Commie or Moslem.  And most Americans can flip that switch without a thought.

  •  I had the same (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, Hannibal

    reaction that another diarist did. I sort of expected a battle going on here. But great analysis. Tipped and recommended

  •  Europe - traitor to the white race (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, budr, BluePlatypus

    I think we can explain much of this absurdity by considering the Christian right's version of history:

    1. God forms a covenant with a people (race, tribe, nation) and then rewards them for obedience with conquest, slaves, world domination in His name, and punishes the ever-living crap out of them if they dare to become tolerant by inexplicably empowering a different (heathen) people to defeat them.
    1. The Jews lost their covenant when they killed Christ, so it passed to the Christians who wormed their way into power in Rome, yada, yada.
    1. Eventually the covenant/license to kill passed to the Protestant merchants of northern Europe, and lo, they prospered and spread to America, slaughtering redskins, trading slaves, inventing the satanic mills to build more weapons to conquer more lands.  So far, everything is fine with Jehovah.
    1. But then Marx and Darwin and labor unions came along and ruined Europe's faith in God, Guns 'n' Greed (as opposed to tens of millions of dead from a world war backed by all the same conservative institutions that the Christian Right obeys).  Just as right-wingers now claim (!) that slavery was worth it because it forced Africans to become Christians, the British empire was firehosing the natives with God - but it GAVE UP!
    1. This moved the covenant to America.  The Euros must be smited by heathens, because God is just as much of an SOB now as in 2000 BC.  America is now the sole preserver of Western civilization and global capitalism, which are the only forces that can enslave the entire world at once.  Anything that interferes with that noble goal, Constitution, Presidents, environmentalists, or minorities, must be crushed.

    Except, of course, it isn't happening that way.  The more Europe fails to go all Old Testamenty, the angrier our theocrats get.  They start itching to trigger the Eurocalypse themselves before our proles start realizing we're the ones on the road to Hell.  At the very least, our Patriarchs (GE, Exxon, etc) ought to do everything they can to reconquer Europe by installing our own, perfected form of Western civilization - consumer capitalism, which has done such a good job of advancing God's work in our land in recent years.

    Plug the above interpretation into many, many statements, positions, doctrines and rantings of the Christian Right and even the White nationalists and the Neocons and the libertarians and the corporate plutocrats, the latter of which simply have secularized the same notion of Europe-as-traitor (poor=black=Commie=heathen).  It helps to hold the Right together.

    See, they genuinely do think that ni**er-lovers are a sign of the End Times.  Imagine what a black president must mean.

  •  I apologize profoundly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hannibal, JDsg

    for the crap American exports on television.

    Alas, poor Sweden.

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:46:03 PM PDT

  •  I'm not sure you can blame Halloween on America (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Ahianne, IreGyre

    though.

    As an offshoot of Samhain, I would think it had to start up somewhere in Europe.  Most of the folks who came to the States over the centuries were Christians, not pagans.

    Now the 'Hallmarkization' of it is another matter, as US corporations believe strongly in turning every holiday into a reason to exchange cards, sell themed candy and toys, etc, etc.

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 04:53:16 PM PDT

    •  Well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, JDsg, Ezekial 23 20

      "Halloween" the holiday is not uniquely American, of course not. (And it's in fact a distant cousin of the Swedish All Saint's.) But the recent adoption of American-style Halloween parties is an American influence for sure.

      The "Hallmarkization" you mention is, I suspect, one of the main reasons it's catching on. Since the stores realized they could sell people lots of crap for Halloween. (All Saint's, being a somber affair, only sells some candles) So they start pushing it by advertising and selling Halloween stuff.

      So it's not strictly a question of aping Americans. I believe it's 1) the cultural familiarity that comes from it being American, combined with 2) the commercial incentive.

      Less 'commercial' American holidays like Thanksgiving haven't caught on at all. (Swedes don't eat turkey either).

  •  We export Amway, McDonalds, Disney and Mormons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Hannibal

    which represents the best we have to offer the world.

    No wonder everyone hates us for our freedoms.

    After all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.

    by Brahman Colorado on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 05:02:20 PM PDT

  •  Same thing happening all over Latin America (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, JDsg

    I see this happening all over latin america, except Cuba, american culture is replacing old traditions, fast food is replacing their own native foods, english sentences are hip between young even if they do not understand full meaning. evangelical groups are shrinking the catholic church (specially in Central America, Argentina and Brazil).

  •  A couple of others have touched on other... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo

    ...countries and regions (the Netherlands, Latin America) where similar problems are occurring.  As an American expat in Asia, the problem exists here to a degree although I find that Asian cultures are more culturally resistant to the American cultural onslaught.  

    In the past I've joked about how Singaporeans really want to be British, to which there is a bit of truth.  But the Anglophile veneer is fairly thin.  Yes, we do watch American TV and movies, ride in double-decker buses, and cheer for English soccer teams, but the local cultural influences are much, much stronger.  And it's not just in this one country, but in all the Asian countries I've visited so far.  

    Perhaps the reason why Asian cultures are more resistant to Western (American and European) cultural influences is that Asians, being both pragmatic and very competitive, use only those aspects of other cultures that will help them to get ahead. Learning English is an excellent example, but English is only one of a number of languages Asians learn to advance themselves and their careers.  Koreans also learn Chinese and Japanese, while in Singapore, which is already multi-lingual (all children are taught two languages in primary school and some grow up learning three), other languages from outside the region (Japanese, Arabic) are popular classes taught privately.

    On the other hand, those aspects of other culture that are perceived as "inferior" are ignored or avoided. For example, a lot of Chinese and Vietnamese kids avoid Malay and Indian foods because "it smells."  (It does, especially the curries, but I find the aromas delicious.)  In Korea (where I lived for a year), Korean men avoid fast food restaurants like McDonald's, much preferring traditional foods (rice and fish), to the point where literally 80-90% of the customers at McDonald's are women.

    So I agree that the problem is largely self-created, people choosing to import elements of American and other cultures into their society.  But if you want to "save" your culture, start by asking what is worth saving.  In what ways are the local cultures "superior?"  It's not that American culture is all so powerful that it's only a matter of time before the entire world becomes American.  Take what you need, discard the rest.

    Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

    by JDsg on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 12:03:20 AM PDT

    •  excellent series of global (0+ / 0-)

      perspectives, thanks a lot.

      very disturbing about the women and mickeyd...

      why? just kos..... *just cause*

      by melo on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 05:49:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The women/McDonald's connection... (0+ / 0-)

        ...has other ramifications.  On the one hand you have Korean men who avoid fast-food and eat mostly traditional food, which tends to be extremely low in fat.  As a result, the vast majority of men are thin as a rail.  The women, however, enjoy the fast-food and, thus, are at risk for gaining weight due to the fatty nature of that type of food.  The men greatly dislike fat women, though, to the point where Korean women, who would be considered thin by American standards, are considered fat in Korea.

        There are other issues that might be considered "disturbing" by non-Koreans; this is just the tip of the iceberg.  (However, in all fairness, I will say that I do love Korean culture overall, and have missed living there tremendously since I left in 2002.)

        Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

        by JDsg on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 07:56:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Would you crosspost on European Tribune? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, fran1, budr

    We often rant about the "Eurabia" meme pushed by the US extreme right. Your diary is nice and would be much appreciated!

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