They’re not thinking anywhere else either:
One subject I’d like to be done with, for now, is bumper stickers — we’ve devoted a lot of time to it in this column. But I’d like to bring up one more — brought to my attention by a reader. The sticker says, “Don’t Pray in My School. I Won’t Think in Your Church.” Is that the most pretentious and arrogant sticker of all time? Of all time? Quite possibly.
The message may be intended to be pretentious and arrogant, but as is so often the case with militant atheists, the arrogance is unmerited. The prayer in schools issue was always a manufactured one and is now irrelevant; nine months of collective learning is a technologically outmoded relic of the nineteenth century even without the useless PC propaganda that now passes for “education”.
Since atheists are demonstrably no more prone to think for themselves than any other group of people, there’s no reason to fear them thinking in church, or anywhere else, for that matter. There are few things more ironic than the mindless infidel who thinks himself a fearless freethinker because he successfully parrots the logical and factual absurdities of those to whom he has delegated his own doxastic responsibilities.
As for the juvenile lionizing of all things European that so bothers Mr. Nordlinger, there are two contrasting aspects to it. The first is that there truly are plenty of things to be embarrassed about when one sees Americans on display in Europe. One need not be a pretentious East Coast Euro-wannabee to be appalled by the appearance and behavior of one’s fellow Americans. Many of them wandering around the continent in summertime are fat, loud, obnoxious, and poorly dressed. Their children are often grotesque and ludicrously undisciplined. I certainly didn’t mind at all being taken for an Italian one evening in Amsterdam when two obese American teens were doing backwards somersaults over the back of the couch upon which their parents were sitting, while the two Italian children of a similar age were sitting politely and quietly drinking wine with their own parents. When the older girl rolled her eyes after one particularly buffoonish landing and mouthed “Americani” at me, I can’t honestly say that I felt any burning need to stand up and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in order to stand in solidarity with my countrymen.
All that being said, Europeans can not only rival Americans for insularity and hostility towards the wider world, they’re quite visibly more inbred. You can literally see it in some of the smaller towns. Also, the idea that most Europeans speak English is simply false and those who possess it actually betray their 0wn lack of familiarity with the continent. Comparing the wealthy, educated, and well-traveled European elite with the American boobeoisie simply is not a fair or reasonable comparison, indeed, across most of Europe, it’s the German tourists who are considered the most annoying, with Americans coming in a distant second. Most younger Europeans tend to think of America as a much livelier, exciting, and dynamic place than the Old World; while the cultural disdain of their elders is real, so too is the younger generation’s envy.