Friday, March 31, 2006

The guilt of Europe survives

Shrinkwrapped has written a series of thought-provoking posts on the survivor guilt of post-WWII Europeans, and how they might be dealing with it. Well worth reading. Three parts have been already written, and a fourth is planned.

He writes of an ex-patient of his ("Gudrun") who seemed to take on the burden of guilt for what her parents--who were not high-level Nazi functionaries but ordinary Germans--did (or didn't do) during World War II. Her extreme sense of shame about her mother's family's failure to protect and save Jewish neighbors caused Gudrun to sabotage her own life in many ways, and to decide never to have children.

In Part III of the series, Shrinkwrapped connects the present-day pacifism and passivity of many Europeans with their failure to face their own guilt about their (or their parents') behavior during World War II.

There is no question that Europeans were deeply traumatized by both World War I and World War II in a way that we Americans--who fought in both wars but did not experience destruction on our own soil, nor were we faced with the sort of "Sophie's Choice" decisions that many Europeans faced--may find it hard to fathom. Part of the European experience was their own relative guilt in the Holocaust, and this was not just true of Germans. The example of the maternal family of Shrinkwrapped's patient "Gudrun" is an excellent one: they were faced with the choice of trying to save their Jewish friends and neighbors at the risk of danger to themselves, and they chose their own safety over heroism. They were not evil people, but they were passive when they might have been active against evil. Every European who was not an active member of the resistance during the war, and their children and children's children, must on some level deal with the issue of guilt.

Some, of course, deal with it through denial or even identification with the aggressor. Some just aren't troubled by such concerns and consider the past the past. Some, such as Shrinkwrapped's patient, are tortured by guilt even though they, as individuals, bear none (Gudrun wasn't even alive during the war). We don't know enough about the human heart and mind to explain such differences; we merely note them.

Shrinkwrapped writes that the source of current European attitudes towards the Jews may also be found in their WWII experience and the need to deny feelings of guilt that, if accepted, might threaten to overwhelm them, as they did Shrinkwrapped's patient:

The European elites show a great deal of pathology in their culture. They attempt to deal with their shame by attacking what they see as the source of their shame. If the Jews would only disappear, the memory of the Holocaust could be consigned to the distant past and never thought of again.

I would phrase it somewhat differently. I don't think the desire is for the Jews to disappear, exactly. But I think the desire is to prove the Jews to be as guilty as the Europeans were, and thus to absolve the Europeans of guilt for participating in and cooperating with the Holocaust in such great numbers. And if the Jews and/or Israelis should happen to disappear as a side-effect of the present-day attitude of the Europeans, then so be it.

This can be seen in the eagerness with which explicit and frequent comparisons are made between Jews--especially Israelis--and Nazis. And, in a separate but related phenomenon, I think it's at least partly behind the comparison of Bush to Hitler. If the Israelis/Jews (and American Presidents) are as bad as the Nazis and their European collaborators, this serves a double function: first, it norms Europe's behavior during WWII ("see, there's nothing special about the guilt of Europeans, move along now"); and second, it can even be seen as justifying the Holocaust, as well ("Jews are evil, so it was okay for us to cooperate in attempting to destroy them").

Anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism not only both have a long history in Europe (the first phenomenon is an ancient one; the second has existed for centuries), but they both have a more recent function, and that it is to deflect and sooth European guilt. As the case of Shrinkwrapped's patient indicates, guilt can be an extremely unpleasant and sometimes even unbearable emotion. It's not so surprising that people will do what they can to avoid feeling its ravages.

One other thing about guilt and Europe. There is some connection between guilt and religion. No, it's not at all necessary to believe in religion to feel guilt. But guilt is an emotion specifically addressed by religion: when it is appropriate for a person to feel it, and the various ways for which it can be atoned. It's beyond the scope of this particular post to go into the manner in which different religions answer these questions; but suffice to say it's one of the major tasks of religion to try to give people a way to assess guilt, and then to expiate it.

Europe has become far less religious in recent decades, and perhaps the loss of this mechanism for dealing with guilt is another reason the emotion has to be so strongly deflected there. What remains as a tool for dealing with guilt is the somewhat secular religion of psychiatry and psychology, and Shrinkwrapped's tale of his patient's treatment reveals some of the limitations of that approach to the problem.

Would Gudrun--and other European survivors and their children--be helped by mechanisms such as the Catholic confessional, or Yom Kippur and other Jewish mechanisms for expiation (please see this fascinating discussion of the Jewish attitude toward repentance and forgiveness)? Perhaps.

In any event, Europe's unshrived and denied guilt can go on to produce monsters:


At 3:57 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Just a couple of observations:

Nazism was a kind of militaristic hyper-nationalism. Therefore, any show of nationalism that is considered excessive or chauvinistic, can be, and will be, compared to Nazism (the most odious ideology we can think of). It's really that simple.

If you don't believe me, look at the Nazi imagery applied to American politicans (and one American politician of Austrian background) during the recent illegal immigrant rallies on the West Coast.

The same goes for any show of militarism. If there is such a show, and someone wishes to make a negative comment, watch out for the Photoshop'd SS uniforms .....

I think the Europeans are tired of fighting, and I think that after two world wars and a Holocaust that they look on nationalism and militarism with far more jaundiced eyes than we.

At 4:35 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

There is no question that Europeans were deeply traumatized by both World War I and World War II in a way that we Americans--who fought in both wars but did not experience destruction on our own soil

I don't think that is why they are the way they are, so I'd have to disagree and say that there is some question. Americans have pride in WWII, Germans don't. It doesn't matter how much destruction there is, so long as you win, a victory is a victory is a victory. Britain for example, are quite proud. But it had nothing to do with not experiencing destruction on their own soil. Britain's problem derives from their sacking of CHurchill after the war and instituting government coerced national unity, in the form of democratic socialism.

Europeans are deeply traumatized by the fact that wars have never brought them prosperity and it has never solved their problems. Until the Americans interfered that is, then they have the Pax Americana to feel resentful about. Americans have had many many wars, and in 90% of them, it has solved our problems. The Revolutionary War solved the question of independence and sovereignty. The Civil War solved the problem of the legality of slavery. The War of 1812 solved the problem of American doubt about national power and status in the world. The Spanish American War. WWI. WWII. Cold War. Gulf War. Korea.

The only wars which we didn't solve anything with, was Vietnam. And even there, it didn't solve anything in our favor. But our beef with Vietnam was over the minute they won, which solved our problem in the whole region. Not in our favor of course, nor in the Vietnamese's favor, but it solved it.

Europe sees American warlikeness and they wonder, "Why are Americans so warlike?". Then they wonder, and yes they did say this in Germany, "Maybe they learned it from us". No, we didn't learn war from the Germans or the Euros. We learned to favor war because wars solve problems, in a way that "debate" and "diplomacy" cannot. Europeans have never solved their social problems with wars. So they don't use war in that manner. The French Revolution? Went Kaput. The English Revolution? Crushed, Oliver Cromwell executed.

If you told France that they would get major moola if they sent people weapons and aircraft, and helped to invade a country, France would support it. If you told France that you need weapons and their help invading a country to solve social problems underlying terrorism, France will say yes but then stab you in the back. War for resources is justified in the European mind, War to solve social and problems of justice are not.

America is the entire opposite. Our wars for resources always sucked and weren't really productive. Our wars for ideology rocked and have brought us much pride and success. Psychologically, it makes sense for Americans to support wars for ideas and Europeans to support wars for resources.

There is a lot of useful perspectives in the American-German carnival on the blogosphere. I've always believed that the best way to learn about Europe was from reading what EUropeans wrote. Mellanie Phillips and Davids Mediencrikit are critical resources.

Europe has become far less religious in recent decades

In the sense that religion is a belief and deals with guilt, anti-Americanism is their religion. It is not that they have become less religious, it is rather that they have converted from the Old Christian religions.

Anti-Americanism gives people the same things Christianity gives them. It gives them a hell and a heaven, a satan and a devil. Those with sins and those without.

What remains as a tool for dealing with guilt is the somewhat secular religion of psychiatry and psychology, and Shrinkwrapped's tale of his patient's treatment reveals some of the limitations of that approach to the problem.

I think the problem with psychological approaches is that it is too intellectual in trying to find root causes and treatments. There are natural tools in the human mind to deal with these things, and psychology instead of using them, actually try to override them. Such things as denial, projection, displacement, no recall, memory block, those things are natural human defenses. Emotional beliefs such as religion, rechannels the mind's mental defenses to get rid of the negative emotions to make people feel better. But it is somewhat irrational in the process. Psychology, in seeking rationality and normal logic, has to discard nature's natural tools. That, without reading Shrink yet, is counter-productive.

I myself have undergone some psychological stress in my life, and even though I could understand it intellectualy and I knew the intellectual solutions and that they would work, that didn't mean emotionally I was changed. Tug of wars between the heart and the mind should not happen, at least if you seek to reconcile some problems.

After having read Shrink's 2nd post, some highlights I might mention.

The gap between what she knew intellectually (that she had no responsibility for what had happened) and what she felt (that she was the descendant of evil) was unbridgeable.

I can personally sympathize with that, since I've experienced it. It is a very weird experience. To understand the problems psychologically, requires that you distance yourself emotionally, which emotions like hate, cruelty, and disgust tends to cloud the issue as Shrink experienced herself in the therapy. And yet the very separation between emotion and thought, renders a person incapable of resolving their own base emotions.

She could not shake the feeling that no matter how much good she did in the world, she came from people capable of the greatest horrors, and could not risk being even in a small way responsible for such evil once again being loosed in the world.

I cannot help but think that a belief in patriotism, and yes nationalism, would have helped her. Not an artificial "intellectual theory" but a heart felt love of her country, of her country's heroes, and of RESPECT for her father's moral integrity in being an anti-Nazi. Respect, love, and admiration for Germany's real heroes, and a deep sadness that the failure of Von Stauffenberg in assassinating Hitler destroyed Germany for all history.

But these things cannot be learned. They can only be felt. And that is the difference between intellect and the heart.

It is hard to describe how deeply she felt this horror and how powerful it was.

I cannot emphasize enough that this woman was the most gentle of souls; the idea that she could hurt another person was enough to make her feel physically ill.

But that is the damn problem in the first place, no disrespect intended. People who have good and compassionate hearts are totally vulnerable to guilt in violence. Gentle people are disturbed and horrified by violence, on a level that ruthless and cruel people are not.

I do not speak with any contempt over being gentle. That is rather impossible. I hated thugs, the military, and anyone who used force when i was growing up. And I never contemplated the use of force to solve anything. Or if I did, I never acted upon it. People change. Gentle people can become torturers. Pacifists can become warmongers. Human behavior is malleable, even if our natures are not.

I cannot emphasize enough that this woman was the most gentle of souls; the idea that she could hurt another person was enough to make her feel physically ill. Yet she could never shake the feeling that at her own core was a horror.

I don't study sado-masochistic sexual fantasies, but from what I've heard, gentle women tend to favor masochistic sexual fantasies. If she had these fantasies before the guilt, then the guilt compounded with her sexual fantasies could be what she fears. This would interfere with her image of herself, it scares her for her to visualize herself as the dominator or as the victim enjoying violence, as the perpetrator of force and evil. And I can imagine that this might produce long term relationship problems.

Children who live with constant hostility and criticism learn to defend against the bad feelings and shame within; and to externalize blame onto others. Projection and paranoia, which are both external assignments of blame, are psychological defenses against shame.

There's another defense against shame, she didn't mention. It is pride. It's an interesting solution. Use one emotion to cancel out the other.

Often this excessive shame is dealt with by humiliating someone perceived as weaker or more worthless than the shamed person (e.g., the family pet, women, Gays, or outside groups serve this function for both individuals and cultures).

Perhaps, for some specific kinds of people. But I cannot help but think that the person who choses pride, will focus on improving himself. Perhaps that is part of the American secret. Americans focus on our pride, not on our shame. The Canadians feel proud of their country, because of their shame in being America's next door neighbors. Canada is actually one of the most patriotic countries in a world wide poll. America and Venezuella seems to top the list. Then there are the French. So why are the French/Canadian pride so different in consequences from American pride? I tend to think it has to do with a lot of other virtues, like honesty, hard work, honor, and loyalty. Same emotion, different results.

My patient resolved her conflicts over aggression, shame, and guilt, by punishing herself, destroying her own future, and making the commitment that she would never be complicit in atrocities again.

Do you see another path? I do. I see one such divergent path. The path that would lead to the destruction of evil itself.

What does it take for a person to decide that violence is evil, but that his duty to fight evil is to punish himsef? How is that different from the person that decides that violence is evil, but that his duty is to control violence in the service of fighting evil?

Not a very broad line to walk. But it is quite easy to imagine.

Their initial response had been denial of the aggression within, buttressed by their almost reflective PC-thought; however, this is not working very well.

It is very scary to see within yourself, and know that you have just as much capacity for violence as those you abhor. Very scary, it takes some courage to not turn away. But if you don't turn away, if you embrace your soul, in both its dark and light aspect as defined by Eastern philosophy, then you might become balanced. There is a serenity, and a calmness, in the eye of the storm. A sense of peace, and I think a sense of peace is what most people in Europe want. But they are not willing to do what is necessary to acquire it, however. In both the philosophical and literal sense.

I believe the "return of the repressed" is already in motion. Tomorrow, I plan to discuss how an unlikely source has confirmed some of my worst fears.

Great, just great. I've always knew our so called allies were worthless sacks of manure, if one were inclined to insult manure handlers that is, but I never thought that they were "crazy". Crazy Europeans vs Crazy Islamics. Just what we need. I can't help but think about WWII and the craziness there. The human race is one bad record, the old records. We keep skipping over and over, but as Neo quoted, not in quite the same manner.

At 4:56 PM, March 31, 2006, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

Presuming Gudrun (wasn't she a kick-ass warrior queen in Norse mythology? is there some kind of irony here?)was as described, we have an interesting issue:

She wants to work against atrocities.
She has forsworn a large number of the techniques for preventing atrocities. She, therefore, could be complicit in more atrocities. Except for the origin of the problem, sounds like a pacifist.

At 5:41 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger Huan said...

Two key words.

Firstly, all individuals, average and great, are capable of heroism. That in essence defines heroism, doing something unexpected, selfless and noble.

Secondly, denial of our individual potential for heroism inevitably leads to relativism, nihilism and paralysis. I do not believe it is intentional self destruction, just the mentality that destruction is inevitable or there is no such thing as destruction. All of which really are just more denials.

At 6:28 PM, March 31, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think the Europeans are tired of fighting, and I think that after two world wars and a Holocaust that they look on nationalism and militarism with far more jaundiced eyes than we."

Once again, Europe faces a choice between war and dishonor. Once again, they have chosen dishoner, grovelling for mercy at the feet of savages rather than the jackboots of the Nazis.

Once again, they will have war anyway.

At 7:23 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Nice post.

At 7:38 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

I grew up, and still live, in Texas. Many of my since-deceased relatives were hardscrabble family farmers, descended from farming communities in the British Isles. A have a distinct childhood memory of family re-unions, in the 1960's. These "re-unions" were sort of community parties, and were attended by friends from communities, as well as families. My distinct memory is this: the older attendees were ashamed over the South having lost the Civil War. They were angry about it. They all knew people who knew people who had fought and died. Not often, but sometimes they would relate a story here, or a bit there, about the shameful wrong done to the South. When I was in college, I used to visit my ancient grandfather in his nursing home. He was a wizened, skinny, tough as leather, lifetime farmer. He sometimes spoke with me about the importance of voting for Democratic Party candidates: "because if it hadn't been for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we'd like to have starved out back there."

My grandfather also explained to me, during a nursing home visit, how the South lost the war: it was betrayal - by the very one they loved! Here's how it happened:

At the end, Grant's troops were pinned on the hill, with no possibility of escape, as the South had the hill surrounded and cut off. One night, a Union messenger rode to Lee's tent, and Lee met with him inside the tent, alone - WHICH LEE NEVER, EVER, DID. The next morning, LEE rode up the hill and surrendered. And to this day, my boy(here my grandfather began to tap his cane on the floor, in time with his words): A lot of people believe Robrert E. Lee took a bribe.

A tragedy, really, especially since Lee was so loved. I guess no one can escape man's imperfect nature.

At 8:14 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

gcotharn: That's quite a story. I guess the shame of defeat is something that's always hard to take.

At least the South didn't blame the Jews--like Hitler did for WWI, with the "stab in the back" theory.

At 8:39 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The South did blame the blacks, however. The South also blamed Lincoln and calls him a dictator. I've heard it, from people who support the Iraq war and Bush. It is quite irrational, not to be argued with.

The Germans back in WWI also believed their leaders sold them out when they surrendered. It has to do with the difference in will and determination between the leaders and the fighters on the ground. The fighters on the ground were quite willing to fight to the death. Surrenders usually only comes from the leaders, and the leader has to have respect if his troops will obey him.

At 10:32 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger terrye said...

I am reading Truman by David McCullough and he talks about Germany after WW2 and the complete destruction and defeat of the people. Truman even made mention of the smell of death and decay in the air. He also talked about WW1 and the loss of life suffered by the French, the numbers are almost unblievable. I think they feel guilt, for what they did to their world.

At 11:26 PM, March 31, 2006, Blogger Judith said...

This is also a good description of the Jewish view of repentance and forgiveness.

At 11:33 PM, March 31, 2006, Anonymous Roy said...

GCOTHARN said - quoting his grandfather...
"At the end, Grant's troops were pinned on the hill, with no possibility of escape, as the South had the hill surrounded and cut off."

Your grandfather had a bit of memory loss I'm afraid. The end of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia wasn't anything like that.

At the end, after the fall of Richmond, Lee and what was left of his army were fleeing west towards Lynchburg with the bulk of Grant's Army of the Potomac hard on his heels. Lee was stopped when union cavalry and then infantry got ahead of him and blocked further westward progress at Appomattox CH. The rest of Grant's Army then caught up and there was simply no place he could go.

It was Lee that was surrounded, not Grant.

It was fight or surrender. Grant's terms allowed Lee to save face so he made the right choice.

At 12:48 AM, April 01, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

My grandfather was dang near 100 years old when he told me that story - and he was still sharp as a tack - but he hadn't been born yet during the Civil War! He was just relating fantastical gossip that was passed amongst his friends and relatives, and was a method of assuaging their shame and frustration over the South having lost the war. They were very proud people. Damn Yankees. One Confederate soldier was worth 10 Yankees, in case you didn't know!(Actually, I've read some Civil War history, and that might not be far from true! - though the problem was really more with the Union commanders, and less with the Union rank and file). I hadn't thought of that story in many years - until I read neo's post.

At 4:22 AM, April 01, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

At least two generations of Europe's best and brightest were lost on those battlefields, with the most courageous and idealistic most likely to die. The blows dealt went beyond the mere psychological.

I also agree with Steve on the guilt by association subsequently suffered by all things perceived to be militaristic and nationalistic.

At 10:23 AM, April 01, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

In doing some research a few years ago on WWII resistance movements in Europe, I found several books and articles that argued that the fabled "French resistance," the "Maquis" was mostly just that, a fable. This body of post-WWII research argued that the numbers and exploits of the Maquis were grossly exaggerated by the Allies for propaganda reasons.

A German student resistance group, the "White Rose," proved to be similarly inflated. Although there is a monument to them on German soil, from what I could discover the "White Rose" consisted of six or so naive college students who printed anti-Nazi handbills which they openly distributed, whereupon they were arrested by the Gestapo, interrogated and executed.

If these evaluations of European "resistance" are correct, why so little resistance out of such large populations? You would think that there would be some plain ornery types who would resist just for the hell of it.

At 2:31 PM, April 01, 2006, Anonymous Terry Baker said...

Great article, raises many questions....
Is it possible that the Europeans historically are a conquering people naturally, that is to say, that they need expansion and conquest to grow and have faith in themselves? Was conquest the foundation of their civilizational confidence? Is its failure and absence the root cause of its ambivalence about the future?
I've often wondered if humans in general require conquest as the basis for their self confidence. This is surely true of Islam which has always been a conquering faith; strong and irresistible when successful, sullen and resentful when blocked or defeated.
And, if all this is true, whither the culture that renounces expansion? Are there any examples of a civilization that thrived after abandoning growth and expansion?

At 3:01 PM, April 01, 2006, Anonymous Trimegistus said...

Another thing to consider: Europe and America drew exactly opposite lessons from World War II. The Americans learned that negotiation and appeasment only help aggressors, so nations need to be willing and able to fight for their freedom.

Europeans learned that nationalism and military preparedness leads to war, so nations need to abandon militarism and rely entirely on negotiation to resolve problems.

Stuart Miller, a journalist, has a book out called "Painted In Blood" about the modern European identity which is very interesting. One illuminating anecdote in it recounts the horrified reaction of a European visitor to an American religious revival meeting. The fervor and enthusiasm on display struck the European as inherently dangerous, just the kind of thing a Hitler could take advantage of.

At 3:10 PM, April 01, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

This story has a point. I promise.

Some years ago, before I was born, an aunt twice removed married a Southerner.
The reception was held at her parents old home in Central Pennsylvania. As a little kid I remember seeing there were musket ball holes in the shutters; apparantly the place was nearby the fighting.

Anyway, during the reception, the southern relatives of the groom learned that in that very house there was a chair once owned by the (to them) infamous Thaddeus Stephens, the implacable reconstructionist senator. Naturally, the Southern boys threw it out the window and set fire to it.

The reaction of the northen guests was interesting. As my parents tell it, apart from the chair's owners, who were understandably furious, most of the damn yankees there were secretly pleased to see that Johnny Reb hadn't lost his piss&vinegar.

There's much sound political common sense here. Cure them of slavery and rebellion, don't cure them of their spirit. A sturdy, unrepentant old foe who's now on your side, isn't that much better than guilt, expiation, forgivness and other shrink stuff?

After all, what damn good would it do the country to have such fighting talent all balled up in a corner wringing their hands and sobbing about how awful they are?

I have wondered if the movie Gone With the Wind had played a role here: all kinds of Americans went to this movie and, no matter whether they were from the North, the South, the East, the West, for a coupel of hours they were rooting for their vanquished countrymen. How could you not, if you have a heart? The healing had begun years before, but this movie removed the last stiches maybe.

(Yes, yes, I know. It goes without saying that Black Americans take a very different view of all this. But that's its own big subject, and not relevant here.)

Now give or take a decade, as many years separate Appomatix from the release of Gone With the Wind as do the end of WW 2 from today; but the Europeans have yet to have their Gone With the Wind.

For their sake and America's sake, I hope they do. And, yes, I even hope the Krauts find their Thaddeus Stephens' chair to burn.

At 3:32 PM, April 01, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

"The fervor and enthusiasm on display struck the European as inherently dangerous, just the kind of thing a Hitler could take advantage of."

Please. Did Hitler take advantage of breathing too? After all, that evangelical crowd was breathing, and armies sure benefit from a good supply of air. The visitor saw what she wanted to see.

At 7:01 PM, April 01, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Trimegistus -

If you had never seen a tent revival, you'd be scared of it, too. Let's not even talk about snake handling and arsenic drinking...

One thing Europeans don't seem to understand about the US is its diversity. Seeing one tent meeting and thinking it somehow exemplifies American culture demonstrates that ignorance. They should know that, for every group of holy rollers there's a hundred groups of other yo-yos who think the bible-thumpers are full of crap. You can say that about almost any group you'd care to name.

We can't agree on *anything*, even when the situation plainly calls for some sort of accommodation, if not actual unity of opinion and action. So how in the hell are we supposed to line up and goose-step behind some modern-day Hitler?

At 7:38 PM, April 01, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

SB, just because I am in The Church of God with Signs Following does not make me a fascist or a second class citizen.

At 10:55 PM, April 01, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Say what?

OK, the European in question considered shared religious passion ominous because it reminded them of the shared, quasi-religious adoration of Hitler by the German people. Snake handling was just an example of the kind of ecstatic Christian worship that would probably worry said European. No criticism of any particular sect was intended.

My point was that there are so many different and often opposing groups in the US that a Hitler-like leader would have real trouble unifying and/or cowing us the way Hitler did the Germans. This is why European - or general liberal - fear of an American theocracy is completely misplaced.

If fiddling with poisonous reptiles and ingesting toxic substances demonstrates the power of God for you, then have at it. Just don't try to take over the entire country cause there won't be enough snakes for everybody.

At 1:30 AM, April 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...most of the damn yankees there were secretly pleased to see that Johnny Reb hadn't lost his piss&vinegar. "

I don't believe it. Someone must have had a lot to drink to believe such a story.

At 2:23 AM, April 02, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

For Germany, the problem is that they saw a horrible couple of wars, and decided that the problem was violence. We figured out (correctly) that the problems were things like fascism and communism... Violence is a tool. Tools only do what people want them to do. They are not inherently good or evil. Ideologies on the other hand...

At 10:00 AM, April 02, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Mike's probably joking.

At 3:30 PM, April 02, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Good thing, too!

Everybody knows snake handling is for girls. Where I come from, we prove our faith in the Supreme Being by playing Russian roulette with automatic pistols. We got the Muslims' martyr count beat by a mile.

At 10:35 PM, April 05, 2006, Anonymous brooklynbob said...

A liberal friend and I were having a talk about Europe. We both agreed that the influx of Muslims was Europe's punishment for sin. He thought the sin was colonialism and I thought it was the Holocaust.


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