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The Europe of Yesterday: The ghosts of the past still haunt the European Union

Theodore Darymple

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Having spent the last two or three millennia uncompromisingly slaughtering one another, we Europeans now live as one. There is perpetual peace in what Mr. Gorbachev, rising as near to poetry as any member of the nomenklatura ever did, once called "our common European home." Never again will the dogs of war be unleashed upon our immemorially blood-soaked soil. From now until the end of time, it's love our neighbor as ourselves.

Alas, the human heart does not always follow the human head. Underneath the surface expression of noble sentiment, the old visceral hatreds and antagonisms still bubble away, waiting to erupt. When Signor Berlusconi grumbled in the European Parliament that Herr Schulz of the German Social Democrats would make an excellent Kapo in a film about a Nazi concentration camp, he set off a row that demonstrates that national sentiment on the old continent remains alive--and not entirely harmonious.

Signor Stefani, the Italian Minister of Tourism (38 percent of Italy's tourist revenues come from Germany), weighed in with the opinion that German tourists were hyper-nationalistic blonds who loudly invaded Italy's beaches and, through indoctrination, believed they should be top of the class, whatever the situation. To prove that he wasn't over-generalizing, he added that German Chancellor Schröder was not too bad--for a German.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Herr Schröder cancelled his holiday in Italy and decided to stay at home in Hanover, upon learning which Signor Berlusconi replied that he felt sorry for Herr Schröder: a sentiment that anyone who has ever spent time in Hanover will fully understand.

Read the entire article in the City Journal website.



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