Franke: Politically Incorrect Europe
by Mark Franke
If this were Maoist China, I would be headed directly to a reeducation camp. Then again, our progressive thought police may have that in mind for me anyway.
My crime? Spending a week in Europe where I was force-fed a continual dose of sights and descriptions that would certainly infuriate those who are hell-bent on purging our own national consciousness of any and all that fails the ideological purity test.
First, one can’t take a guided tour of a European city without being led past statue after statue of kings and other historical figures who are spoken of with respect and near reverence. If that weren’t bad enough, nearly all these statues are of dead white men — white supremacy and toxic masculinity all rolled up into huge marble and brass monuments. And the benighted locals can’t wait to brag to American tourists about all these reprobates, speaking with pride about what they accomplished in architecture and culture that still have impact today.
One almost never hears anything negative about former kings, unless in asides that quickly pass by. I can’t imagine what they think about our Soviet-like crusade to tear down Confederate statues and remove names of other sinners from public buildings. Even my hometown’s city council needed to debate whether to declare a day in honor of our city’s namesake because of his indiscretion in defeating an American Indian (sorry, “Native American”) army at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
But, wait. It gets worse.
In the countries I visited — Italy, France and Spain — there are cathedrals and basilicas everywhere. I realize that Europe is ahead of the United States in the decline of religious devotion but they still show pronounced deference to the Christian, particularly the Roman Catholic, faith. (I experienced the same a year ago in eastern Germany where, after 80 plus years of Nazism and Communism, they are nearly all officially atheist but proud of their being the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation.)
In spite of this falloff in regular church attendance, key historical events in the ancient and medieval periods are all dated in reference to the birth of You Know Who. They may say B.C. or A.D. but more likely it will be so many years “after the birth of Jesus Christ” or some such. None of this in the Common Era or Before the Common Era nonsense for them, whose ancestors were actually in situ back then.
(And what do these modern designations pivot on? The birth of Jesus Christ. One might as well say “Before the Christian Era” for B.C.E.)
As a final insult to self-righteous Americans, the cities of Barcelona and Madrid have huge, and I do mean huge, statues of Christopher Columbus in prominent squares. Why? He neither sailed from nor lived in either city. He wasn’t even Spanish, but Genoan Italian. But they sure are proud of him.
In Barcelona his statue greets those arriving at the port as I did. The tour guide not only took us by it but recommended we come back on our own. It is a key commercial emporium with vendor stalls everywhere. I suspect that if I had shown the gumption to tell them what is happening to old Chris in the States, they would have replied: “Then send him back; we love him here.”
Fortunately, the group my wife and I were with were mostly retirees like us. If we had been accompanied by any of the snowflake generation, let alone the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates, they would have been hyperventilating by then.
I love history, love it so much I did not major in it in college so as to not ruin that love. And it was worth every Euro I paid to visit so many places that have that same perspective on who we are and why we are that way. Unfortunately, I have since returned to the cultural vandalism in a nation that once was the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
The barbarians are at the gates. Can we still push them back?
Mark Franke, an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review, is formerly an associate vice chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.