There's a strain of European opinion that looks down on the USA. They assume superiority in a sneering de haut en bas manner which never fails to infuriate me. With Donald Trump legitimately elected to the White House they can now indulge this awful vice even more vociferously (witness the pathetic demonstrations against Trump in London this summer as real dictators and thugs get the red carpet treatment with no protestations).
How short is the memory...
It was only 1989 that the Berlin Wall came down and that shred by shred the Iron Curtain was ripped away, an iron curtain, lest we forget that had held half of Europe in terror and prison camps for forty years (2018 is the 50th anniversary of the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring and the 70th anniversary of the communist take over of Czechoslovakia.) Does anyone know this? Or care?
But what forced the eventual emancipation of Eastern Europe? Sure, Western Europe banded together into NATO, and one mustn't forget our own Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, but it was the muscle and power and success of capitalism of the US that won the Cold War. Ultimately it was Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and the resolve of all Americans, Democrat or Republican - people and Congress - that defeated this evil cult, communism and freed Eastern Europe. We should thank them more for this salvation from evil.
So this year, I went to Normandy around the start of June as I always do. The residents of Normandy remember the mighty battle here in 1944 every year with a solemn punctiliousness that is moving. It's here, and maybe nowhere else in France, they remember the sacrifices of the US (and the UK and Canada) in liberating Europe. Driving down the Contentin peninsula in late May, I called in at Omaha Beach, scene of the most bloody fighting on D-Day (as graphically dramatised in Saving Private Ryan). It was here that American boys stormed the beach under heavy fire. Between 2000 and 5000 never got off the beach. It was a slaughter. But American grit and numbers got them through, eventually. Nazi Europe had been breached.
I took photos. My daughter asked me why I was taking pictures of the lone American flag fluttering above the beach as all around coach parties of solemn Americans wandered silently. I turned my face away, tears probably more than glistening.
What could I say? That 74 years before, thousands of Americans (and their Canadian and British counterparts) stormed these very tranquil sands of this coastline to liberate Europe - the Europe now occupied by the smug EU - from fascism. Real fascism. Real Nazis. Killing people in gas chambers fascism. Torture and death of political opponents fascism. The killing of dissidents Nazis.
Yes, the real bad guys (with the communists) of recent history.
And we now get people on the streets in the UK (and the USA regrettably) - ignorant of the sacrifice of young American boys on the beaches of France or the resolve of the US against the horror of communism - shouting that their current US political opponents in democratic elections are fascists. Or Nazis.
Fucking idiots. Learn some history.