I have argued that Barack Obama, like John Kerry, wishes to apply a “global test” to American policies. Although Obama spoke at the end of last week’s debate about impressing African students, it is far more likely that he sees the test being applied by the same European elites Kerry had in mind.
Most Americans probably do not wish to have our policies shaped with European preferences in mind. But if they thought about it in concrete terms, their objections probably wouldn’t run very deep. They might assume that we can “restore our standing” by withdrawing from Iraq and signing some sort of treaty on global warming, policies that a great many Americans favor quite apart from European opinion. If that didn’t work, perhaps we could throw in the abolition of capital punishment.
But this thinking assumes that the European elites, though somewhat to our left, remain committed to our values, including a robust belief in democracy and free speech, and at least some pride in Western Civilization. Unfortunately, these assumptions are subject to serious doubt.
Consider the following examples: In Holland, following the murder of Theo van Gogh by a Muslim assassin, a Rotterdam artist was ordered to remove a memorial painting that simply stated â€œThou Shalt Not Kill.â€ The authorities deemed these words â€œtoo sensitive for our multi-cultural society.”
Second, as Diana West has reported, in Cologne a band of leftists, through a series of acts of violence, prevented a peaceful political rally against the Islamization of Europe from taking place. The speakers were to include elected officials from Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Authorities not only countenanced this act of mob rule, but mayor of Cologne (a post once held by Konrad Adenauer) called this episode â€œa victory for the city of Cologne and a victory for the democratic forces of the city.â€
Third, France has established 751 Zones Urbaines Sensible (Sensitive Urban Zones). These are places that the French state does not control. They range from two zones in the medieval town of Carcassone to 12 in Marseilles, with its heavy concentration of Muslims. (You can find them on this website that the French government has conveniently provided). In short, France has developed its own version of a â€œtwo-state solution.â€
If Obama were informed of developments like the three described above, he would probably denounce them. But they are the product of trends that are present in the U.S. — trends that Obama is more likely to embrace than reject. They include multi-culturalism, political correctness, and the eagerness of politicians to gain and keep power by admitting large numbers of unskilled immigrants and then pandering to them.
The first two phenomena have caused some of our elite educational institutions â€“ including at least one where Obama spent his formative years â€“ to resemble the Rotterdam that deems the words â€œThou Shalt Not Killâ€ too insensitive and the Cologne that sees the triumph of mob rule over free expression as a victory for democracy.
There is also a growing body of direct evidence that Obamaâ€™s commitment to freedom of expression is “situational.â€
Itâ€™s far from clear, in sum, that the ugly features of the new European landscape would deter Obama from taking European counsel to heart. Indeed, itâ€™s not clear that Obama would consider them ugly or even oppose their importation. And, though most Americans certainly would, they have no clue that these features exist.