Sunday, September 28, 2003

Following the theme of going over La Vanguardia with a fine-toothed comb, in the whole Sunday paper there are only two really questionable pieces regarding the United States. They haven't ganged up on Robert Kagan as I expected they would, though that maybe has to wait a few days.

One of the questionable pieces is a review by local frootloop Justo Barranco of a Bush-bashing book by one of those horrible Americans-loved-by-the-British-left named Greg Palast. (Other examples: Michael Moore, Bill Hicks, sometimes Bill Bryson. If you don't know who some of these people are, ask any Brit.) If you're interested in knowing what Greg Palast has to say, just google "Greg Palast" and you'll find plenty of links to him, which he himself largely provides. See, Palast, like Michael Moore, "reviews the absurd bloodshed that the culture of weapons--combined with social inequality, old racial hatreds, and an atmosphere of generalized panic--causes every year in the United States." Uh-huh. Boy, have you noticed how insistent a lot of European commentators are with their idea that Americans live in a state of pants-pissing fear?

The other one is a rant by one Piergiorgio Sandri. This is, unfortunately, what often happens when Spaniards start writing analyses of the United States. He's going off on American legal restrictions on smoking, concerns about teenage drinking, and Microsoft's closing of its chatrooms, as if the three had anything to do with one another. See, "the current climate reminds one of the darkest periods of Prohibitionism in the U.S.," says Mr. Sandri.

(Especially the Microsoft thing. Microsoft realized that they weren't making any money off the damn chatrooms and they were exposing themselves to a huge lawsuit the first time some perv used a MSN chatroom to get his hands on somebody's twelve-year-old. So they said, "Why provide this for free?" I understand they will continue providing chat for those who pay for it. I bet in a few months most chatrooms around the Web will be either closed down or pay services.)

Anyway, Mr. Sandri's preferred explanation for this is "the Protestant and Puritan culture, which looks badly on distractions and prefers to center itself on work. 'We shouldn't forget that in the American constitution God is expressly mentioned, and the American economy and its values are in control,' says Gerard-Francois Dumont, rector of Sorbonne University in must avoid everything that isn't productive...neoconservative values have found fertile ground with the arrival in power of the Bush administration...efficiency, in the American mentality, is considered the antidote to bad's an 'instant society', whose liberality is very comfortable for the individual, but not necessarily so for society."

Couldn't resist checking the US Constitution, and I was right. The only explicit reference to God is in the part at the end where it says"...the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven."

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