Solipson says he admires much about America; we admire much about Europe. Lex, indeed, is constantly reinforcing the history and affection that lie between us and the wide-spread Anglosphere – which includes at least one European nation. And most of us, immigrants that we are, lovers of the western tradition that we are, do not want a huge wall between us and them. (And of course, of late, many of our posters are not American and are rightly proud of their own loyalties.)
Nonetheless, I come to our little blog & his comments having just read a Wall Street Journal piece by Pete du Pont, “Ceasefire in Tunisia”; here we see how wide the breach is in in both tone & content. A readiness to impugn our motives is not, well, attractive. But the real sadness comes from the fact that we revere a value that we often see as perhaps uniquely American but whose ancestors we recognize in that European tradition from which we were spawned.
As Lex has noted, even such an Anglophile as James noted again and again the “honesty” of his Americans, their direct method of speech. It is one we still cherish. But we have reasons other than the fresh charm we see in it (and Europeans may well not) nor does it come (at least solely) from the vulgarity and naiveté Europeans find. We believe it, well, right. My idea of hell would be life lived in code; our inner as well as our society’s health require an ability to speak honestly, directly, words coming up and out with no filter, no hedging, no reinterpreting in “appropriate” words, muted feelings. With such a distraction at such a level, we become less intent on (and less good at) capturing reality. It wastes time but more importantly energy. Perhaps Europeans can not understand how much we are struck by such experiences as the writer describes in his concluding paragraphs:
When the U.S. attends those IGF meetings, our representative will surely be reminded of the repeated advice Tony Mauro, the Supreme Court correspondent for The American Lawyer, recalls receiving from Europeans at a run-up meeting of the U.N. Internet group in Budapest three years ago. Do not invoke the First Amendment in Internet discussions, he was told, for it is viewed as a sign of U.S. arrogance.
If the U.N. establishment believes free speech is arrogance, we can be confident that U.N. control of the Internet would be calamitous.