My Mother vs. Europe

An excellent piece from Paul Greenberg entitled “My Mother vs. Europe”


…Not the Europe of the travel posters and technicolor movies, but the Europe she knew like a bitter taste she’d just spat out.

Hers was the Europe of 1914-17, and the Europe of 1933-45, too. She knew that Europe to the depths of her soul. That Europe had been seared into her mind and bones at a young age, so that, a long and happy life later, she was never wholly secure, but always on guard, as if America could be taken from her any moment.

When anyone would speak of the glories of Europe in her presence, she would look at them quizzically. A small woman, she nevertheless had this way of looking down at you when you said something completely, incomprehensively, pitiably stupid. I can see that look again when I imagine her response to M. Jospin’s load of continental crap.

My mother’s attitude toward Europe was pretty much the same as Gandhi’s on his first visit to the Court of St. James. When a reporter asked the little man from India what he thought of European civilization, he was said to have replied: “I would be all in favor of it.”

Leave a Reply