With perverse injustice, a wave of anti-American verbal nastiness - accompanied by nice, liberal self-doubt - was triggered by the physical anti-Americanism of September 11th. We hear talk of Coca Cola, MacDonalds and other unpopular icons of supposed American culture. These are not what I would be sorry to lose, and they are relatively trivial. Modern America is the principal inheritor, and today’s leading exponent, of European scientific and rational civilisation. And that means the highest civilisation ever, not excluding the Greeks and Chinese.
When we bend over backwards to see the other point of view and blame ourselves for everything; when we fall over ourselves to sympathise with religious ‘hurt’, ‘offence’ and legitimate grievance; when we tie ourselves in knots to avoid anything that could conceivably be misinterpreted as racist, let us keep a sense of proportion. The chips are down, and I suddenly know whose side I am on. A world without Islam, indeed a world from which all three Abrahamic religions had been lost, would not be an obviously worse world in which to live. You may take that as British understatement if you choose. But a world which had lost enlightened scientific reason (which is at its best in America, and not only because more resources are spent on it) would be impoverished beyond all telling. So I hope I shall not sound too corny if I want to stand up as a friend of America. Even (and it feels like pulling teeth to say so) Bush’s America.
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