Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Simon Schama on Godly American vs Wordly America

Simon Schama is a very good historian. Or, at least I can say with certainty that his book Citizens is a very fine book. It is perhaps the best single volume ever written on the French Revolution. It tells a great story and it never misleads the reader. But alas, as this op-ed in the London Guardian makes clear, he is a man of the Left. And he is an angry man calling not for compromise but for a political mother-of-all-battles between the Demos (as he understands them) and the GOP (as he understands them). His analysis of the great divide in the United States between the red and the blue states he calls comparable to the divide between the Shia and the Sunny! He is a fine writer, this man of the Left, so this long op-ed is very much worth reading just for itself. Yet, it is also worth reading because some very intelligent and thoughtful folks really do think all this, and he defines it as clearly as anyone. Let the healing stop, as he says, and the fight begin. A sample:

"Worldly America, which of course John Kerry won by a massive landslide, faces, well, the world on its Pacific and Atlantic coasts and freely engages, commercially and culturally, with Asia and Europe in the easy understanding that those continents are a dynamic synthesis of ancient cultures and modern social and economic practices. This truism is unthreatening to Worldly America, not least because so many of its people, in the crowded cities, are themselves products of the old-new ways of Korea, Japan, Ireland or Italy. In Worldly America - in San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, New York - the foreigner is not an anxiety, but rather a necessity. Its America is polycultural, not Pollyanna.

Godly America, on the other hand, rock-ribbed in Dick Cheney’s Wyoming, stretched out just as far as it pleases in Dubya’s deeply drilled Texas, turns its back on that dangerous, promiscuous, impure world and proclaims to high heaven the indestructible endurance of the American Difference. If Worldly America is, beyond anything else, a city, a street, and a port, Godly America is, at its heart (the organ whose bidding invariably determines its votes over the cooler instructions of the head), a church, a farm and a barracks; places that are walled, fenced and consecrated. Worldly America is about finding civil ways to share crowded space, from a metro-bus to the planet; Godly America is about making over space in its image. One America makes room, the other America muscles in."

Discussions - 11 Comments

I have only read the excerpt thus far, but Schama’s contrast with the great observer of the American character, Alexis de Tocqueville, is striking. Schama should go back and read Democracy in America before he makes judgments about Americans. Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia might also help. And, even if we’ve headed in the direction of Hamilton’s Commercial Republic, we’re still not all latte-sipping, post-modernists, multicultural, multilateralists, as he would like to think all enlightened people are. I like him as an historian, but he should stick with what he’s good at. Another unbecoming rant.

I’d be curious to know how far into America outside of Manhattan, Cambridge, and a few college towns Simon S has ever ventured.

Do you suppose he actually knows or has spent any serious time among any Americans who don’t fit the "worldly" blue-state profile he likes so much?

Do we have another case here of the "liberal-universalist" provincial or the closed-minded lover of the "open" society?

Ahh, not to nitpick, but San Diego County went Republican in 2000 and 2004. The man is surely an impeachable witness.

Europe is on the historical verge of doing, what has never been done. An entire continent is about to embrace the people and religion of an other continent. Europe will be Islam within the lifetime of our children. Our grandchildren will not recall a time, when Europe was not Islam. For them, the christianity and westerness of Europe, will already be a thing to study, to ponder, to IMAGINE. I will probably die about the year 2035. I will live to see the first wave of European emigration, the first flight of the frightened and the scared to death. The rapes are ALREADY occuring, open and brazen murders on crowded streets are ALREADY occuring. Whole areas of la belle France are no go areas for the French police force. It is little reported, but there are already CHRISTIAN women wearing the veil simply to present a low profile, to avoid trouble. Where are French MEN, where are these mythic lovers. Can they not bestir themselves to protect their women, their children, their culture, their history, their future. Death occurs for one and for all, but here we are in the presence of a death that DOES not occur in the usual course. This is a death of something that should transcend us all. Where is Jack Lang, and his like minded. Have they nothing to say, to write, to proclaim. These same French deplore the growth of the English language, yet maintain a cowardly silence about what is transpiring on their own streets. The children of the crusaders have no faith, no courage, no will to fight. The nauseating display of supposed CHRISTIAN FRENCH people lighting candles, and placing flowers for YASSIR Arafat is beyond description. It would take a Churchill to accurately portray the moral degeneracy of such a deed. The churches will be taken over by islam, the statues crushed, the crosses at the peak of the steeples will be replaced by the crescent. What is being done to Europe by European elites is an act of supreme cultural murder. All of Europe has walked up the steps of the gallows, and now the Muslim is placing the rope around its neck. And nobody seems to care, nobody seems to speak out, nobody seems to give two damns. It is as if all of Europe has been chloriformed, drugged, hit in the head or something. Those who speak out like Bridgitte Bardot, like Orianna Fallici are howled down. Europe is killing Europe. The amazing thing is that France is making a clear bid for the leadership of a union, that will inexorably devolve upon the Muslim within decades. In Belgium, the most popular name for boys today is Mohammad. This is an earth shattering development. It is an act as ominous as the occupation of the Rhineland, the creation of the Luftwaffe. The major cities of Holland are on the verge of becoming muslim majorities. The dutch are cleary becoming disconcerted, becoming unsettled. Too little, too late.

What is to become of Europe, and what is to become of America, for rest assured the destination of these leftists will be America. The wave of emigration will embark for these shores, and instead of these Euros snapping out of it, they will seek to inflict their suicidal leftist and socialist policies here.

As for the author of that piece, someone needs to tell him to direct his eyes towards la belle France, for in the blink of an historical eye, IT SHALL BE NO MORE.......... And then instead of writing about days long gone by, he can explain to posteriety why a civilized people delivered over its cities, its cultural monuments, its cathedrals and its very soul to a monstrosity that seeks to take all of man back to the time when the earth was void, and darkness moved across the face of the waters.

God help those poor people, they little know what lies in store for them, and their children.
Not distant now, there will be a time, when the Med Sea shall be bordered completely by a boisterous Islam, EXCEPT for two small enclaves, the state of Israel, and the see of St. Peter. This conquest of the West, and rest assured the Muslim will see it as a conquest will serve only to spur a deep and long abiding militancy. This is not a manner of crystal ball gazing, one need not be Miss Cleo to forsee all this and far more. One needs only eyes to see, and the courage not to avert your eyes from the horrors.
Dan M.

dear prof. schramm,

if you actually lived in europe and were exposed to this lofty pseudo-intellectual nonsense 24/7 on arte, phoenix, inforadio, faz, sz, der spiegel, die zeit, taz, le monde, bbc, etc pp it would surely spoil your reading pleasure.

I’m happy that the Americans I hear and read about are not as sick of it as I am and feared you to be (because it won’t stop in the foreseeable future),

horrah for the American ’rednecks’ and may god bless your soldiers in fallujah!

Don --
It was Hillaire Belloc who said (circa 1900) that "Europe is the faith." That was barely true then, and it hasn’t been true for some time. Most Europeans today visit a church three times in their life, if that: when they are baptized, when they are married and when they die.

Europe forsook its own churches and monuments to faith long before the Muslims began immigrating there. It’s intellectually dishonest to blame the Muslims for all of Europe’s problems; they brought most of their problems on themselves. Also, even if there were to be mass waves of European emigration (a dubious assertion at best), I don’t think the Europeans would come to the U.S. They’d probably go to our more-liberal friendly neighbor to the north.

Perhaps Simon Schama should look at the great red/blue divide by county. There would be no distinction between Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

The national divide is not nearly as wide or ridged as the left would like to think. We are the most mobile civilization in history. Our communities are made up of people from across the country. America is a fluid marketplace of ideas, capital and people. This is our strength. The demographics of urban, suburban and rural voters is a better indication of where the divide occures. These demographics are fluid over time. Is it a coincidence that in polls Republicans were more optimistic than Democrates?

The liberals are a dour lot, depressing to talk to, depressing ot be around. Their view of America is one of failure. Thier message is getting out, it is just not selling. Caveat emptor.

The Dutch violence against Muslims, French violence in Africa, and the general hatred that the Europeans have for all of their Muslim immigrants who are sucking off their massive welfare states should give Europeans pause for criticizing us as gun-tooting cowboys. Their vengeance and violence goes just as deep in their natures just as they loudly proclaim multilateralism, universalism, and utopianism. If they want to celebrate their secularism and atheism in their post-modernism society fine, but don’t judge us (isn’t that a standard/truth?) for worshipping an almighty God or any religion in our successful pluralist, multicultural society.

The blame for what is happening in Europe does not lie at the feet of the Muslim, for the Muslim would not be in a position to threaten, to impose his will, but for the cowardly, anti European, anti christian, anti western, relativististic and multicultural views of an elite able to inflict their ideas on the whole of Europe. I say the whole of Europe because there does not seem to be any country where these views have not been long at work. Already Danish professors are being beaten up for daring to recite the Koran, and challenging some of its precepts. Columnists are being publicly and privately threatened. Beaten up too. Women are being warned. And muslims who do not subscribe to the radical variant, either keep their mouth shut, or go into hiding. There are already people under police protection from threat of muslim mayhem. If European Islam is already feeling so strong to issue edicts and death threats NOW, so secure in their position to start beating up people NOW, when they are not yet in a position of demographic parity, WHAT will they begin to do when they begin to approach that parity, LET alone do, when they enjoy a clear majority status. The rope is being placed around the neck of Europe itself. The violence in Holland could be the first foretaste of civil strife, {civil war???} throughout the entirety of Europe.

The answer to this shadow which has fallen across the future of Europe, is a reform within Islam.

There is nothing genetic, racial, that separates muslims from the other people of the planet.

They can be tolerant too, but a change must occur.

I am not against immigration, but right now, when Islam is inflamed, and radicalism so prevalent, I think it wise for Europe to place a moratorium on immigration, at least pending the resolution of this great war on terror.

Afterwards, they can revisit this issue.

But right now, this course seems suicidal.

As for Europe’s demographic decline, I don’t know why they are not having children. It is another action without historic precadence.

I did not want to portray events in Europe in such lurid prose, but these events ARE happening.
Action now, will prevent so dark a future, but inaction now....

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