Occasionally I am still surprised by the willingness of prominent national newspaper columnists to write nationally syndicated columns in which they do little more than celebrate their own baleful ignorance, which everyone else is assumed to share. Anne Applebaum ladies and female impersonators:
Did you know that volcanic ash can bring down airplanes? I didn't know. Nor did I know that there were volcanoes in Europe capable of spewing so much of the stuff into the atmosphere.Really. A prominent commentator on European affairs didn't know that there are active volcanoes in Iceland. Really? She didn't know that jet engines are delicate, sensitive machines?
She didn't know that fresh produce is transported by air?
Meanwhile, I am boggled by this:
Over the past two decades -- almost without anyone really noticing -- Europeans have begun, in at least this narrow sense, to live like Americans: They move abroad for work, live for a while in one country and then move to another, eventually going home or maybe not. They do business in countries where they don't know the language, vacation in the Mediterranean and in the Baltic, visit their mothers on the weekends.I initially thought this was just bad editing, a typo, a transcription error, inverting Europeans and Americans. And yet, I think that Applebaum and her editors actually believe that internationalism is an American characteristic and national parochialism a European one. Obviously the particular examples are exactly backwards. How many Americans do you know who "vacation . . . in the Baltic"? One inevitably reveals one's class I suppose.
Actually, I suspect that Applebaum's professed ignorance of these matters is almost entirely dishonest and all marshalled in the service of making a tendentious point about science and "faith," forever set against each other in the American mind like that famous rivalry between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Yankees. Wait, what?