Monday, February 24, 2003

I struggled with Mr. DeBray’s op-ed piece (I really didn’t struggle, I just reverted to some of the current ad hominems about the French). But with DeBray’s emerging background (hard-line communist revolutionary) one can begin to readily decompose his piece. The portions of the last two paragraphs are the most revealing.

"Old Europe" has already paid the price. It now knows that the planet is too complex, too definitively plural to suffer insertion into a monotheistic binary logic: white or black, good or evil, friend or enemy.”

Apparently DeBray believes, that western values (human dignity, individual liberty, property rights et al) have no place outside of Europe and North America. We must consider the “greater good” and place no priority in those values. A common refrain since the end of the last world war and the start of the Cold War; Germans and Japanese were not capable of democracy, Eastern Europeans have no concept of liberty, the concept of individual human dignity is foreign to our black, brown and yellow brothers.

If Mr. Debray took the opportunity to visit the streets of New York City or any other city of size in the US, the hunger for human dignity and freedom is omnipresent. The streets are full of those who wish to work and enjoy the freedoms of their labor.

“Whence this paradox: the new world of President Bush, postmodern in its technology, seems premodern in its values. In its principles of action, America is two or three centuries behind "old Europe." Since our countries did not enter history at the same time, the gap should not surprise us.”

Debray is correct in that our (US) values continue to reside in a constitution enacted over two hundred years ago. It is a commitment by the American people to cherish those values, which we find inherent in our relationship with God as free men. We have been lax in the equal application of those values to all of our people but we remain engaged in that pursuit.

We are not surprised that Europe’s moral superiority is premised upon a secular vision of moral equivalence resting upon the legality of the state. It is the underlying value which has dictated Europe’s action for almost 200 hundred years.

I suspect that DeBray was very disheartened when the Berlin Wall came down. I remember growing up with people who suffered under that despotism and who warmly cheered for the people of Eastern Europe and their newfound opportunity for liberty.