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    You reduce me to cosmic tears

    John at TP with Page Numbers says something that one wishes wouldn’t have to be repeated quite so often:

    What I came away with from those broadcasts [while studying in the then-Soviet Union] was the view that the American press wasn’t reporting on the European reaction (mostly negative – we should have given sanctions more time). I used to tell people about that “missing” perspective a lot when I got back here. God, what a little snot I was. I like to think I’ve grown a lot since then. I was still in my “Americans are so provincial” phase, which I can partially forgive myself for, since I was the only person, outside of my college friends, in my social circle that spoke a language that wasn’t high school French or Spanish. If you judge me more harshly, I don’t blame you, though. I doubt most Europeans would speak more than one language if another language wasn’t as close to them as the state line is to me. And really, even children with Down’s syndrome can be taught another language. It’s not a sign of intelligence, although it is a sign of diligence, especially if you are in a large monolingual country such as China, Russia, or the US. Most of the pretentious Western Euros I know don’t speak the hard languages (non-Indo European, or even Indo-European ones that require a non-Latin alphabet).

    I think most of us are kind of snotty when we’re in our early twenties, and the “hard languages,” as John flatteringly styles them, tend to attract competitive know-it-all types. (Yes, obviously, I’m including myself–I’m aware of my flaws. Or at least aware of that flaw.) So I’m not inclined to judge him harshly, because he was willing to look and learn as he grew up. It’s people who retain the “Ooh, FRANCE! How learnèd!” mentality well after they’ve been around the block enough times to know better that drive me nuts.

    Of course, not all change is progress:

    And my, how things have changed in 15 years, no? The press is full of the European reaction today. As if American interests should be subject to the judgment of a bunch of snot noses who tear their continent apart every fifty to hundred years or so. My guess is that 15 years ago the old guys with a grain or two of sense, who came of age in the late 40s and early 50s were still around in the newsrooms to keep the Boomers in check, but now the Narcissist Generation is running the show according to the score of ’68. For which a lot of Euros happily produce new refrains.

    I rag on the Boomers myself, but I think it’s useful to note that they developed as their post-War parents, anxious to make everything safe and comfortable and pain-free after the first half of the century, reared them to. Not that all the fatuous navel-gazing was an intended consequence, of course. And plenty of Boomers in the mass audience, if not behind editors’ desks, wish the more pompous European commentators would go take a flying leap and probably ignore most of the yak time CNN provides for them. It’s still annoying that they’re deferred to so much.

    2 Responses to “You reduce me to cosmic tears”

    1. John says:

      Yeah, the “Greatest Generation” bears some responsibility for this. And it doens’t help that some of the acts of the GG during the civil rights era gave the Boomers something legitimate to protest against. But the Boomer generation has such a huge fraction of idiots, it’s hard not to pick on them.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, the Boomer idiots are loud, and they came of age as the ability of ordinary people to get themselves heard through mass communication was really accelerating, so they can use media savvy to amplify their idiocy.

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