One of my favorite writers is a fellow named Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at National Review. He writes an always-interesting column on NR's web site -www.nationalreview.com - called "Impromptus." The column is a wonderful little treasure trove of things, made more interesting because he doesn't only write about politics. His interests and expertise span everything from classical music (about which I know nothing) to language to human rights in Cuba and China to golf.
We corresponded a couple of times over the years and then actually met at the Republican National Convention last fall in St. Paul. I'm proud to have a signed copy of his book, "Here, There and Everywhere" on my bookshelf. (And you can buy it here: He'll autograph your copy for free.)
So, all of that is by way of introduction. Now, I'm simply going to turn the rest of this entry over to Jay by reprinting a bit from today's Impromptus. He very nicely sums up some of the fears I have about the direction of this country by examining what is happening in Europe. Trust me, folks, we DON'T want to go down the European path. Here's Jay:
There has been a little debate in recent weeks — and, in coming years, it will probably become a bigger debate: Will Americans accept the Europeanization of their country? Will Americans fall into Europeanness — leftism, social democracy? Or will they insist on their peculiarity, their exceptionalism?
The debate has me thinking about the British, a little. About how quickly they became — not so British. Think of the “Metric Martyr.” This was a man, a greengrocer, who gave his customers a choice: Either they could buy their goods according to metric weights and measures — liters, grams, and so on — or they could buy them according to British weights and measures: gallons, ounces, and the like. The man (Steve Thoburn) was prosecuted and convicted. It was illegal to sell according to the British system.
I asked David Pryce-Jones, who was at home in London, “How could the British people let this happen? I mean, it’s their system!” And he said, in essence, “The question is whether the British people still live here.”
Think, too, of the Iranian hostage-taking two years ago. You may remember the behavior of those British sailors and marines. It was so — so very, very un-British.
And just this January, I was in London when they had a snowfall — ten inches, or something like that. No big deal. Certainly not a blizzard. And the buses stopped running. Even the Tube stopped running.
I was talking with a senior British intellectual, and he said, “Look, I’m not a nostalgist, and I don’t think the good old days were necessarily all that good, in many respects. But even during the Blitz the buses kept running.” What had happened to Britain, and to the British? He also talked about the new reign of the health-and-safety inspectors. These are Nanny State agents, poking their noses into every nook and cranny of life.
For example, they insisted on carpeting the dance floor of a recreational center. Someone might slip and fall. So — no more dancing.
And my friend told me the following joke: How many health-and-safety inspectors does it take to change a light bulb? None, it’s too dangerous.
Okay, enough with my anecdotes, or special instances. All God’s chillen got anecdotes and special instances. All I’m saying is: The character of a people is not fixed forever. And that includes, I am sure, the American people. And when the rot sets in: It can do its work with astounding speed.