I may not qualify as the most ardent Europtimist and on occasion I have been criticized here for my Americanophilia — a point of pride in my book — but I trust I can usually tell prejudice and ignorance on either side of the Atlantic. I will not be drawn on the merits and demerits of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and I will be the first to agree with my fellow World Affairs blogger Judy Bachrach that the economies of some EU countries, and partly as a result the euro itself, are undergoing considerable difficulties. This is where our agreement ends, however.
I admire but do not appreciate the confidence with which Ms. Bachrach declares the “almost certain” innocence of Amanda Knox of murder for which she was “improperly convicted and sentenced.” Not having been at the scene, I am agnostic on the subject, but let it be known that not only the court in Perugia but many serious observers think Ms. Knox is far from innocent, and not just in Italy but also in England, the homeland of Meredith Kercher, the brutally murdered victim who is most certainly dead. There is no such thing as a perfect system of justice, bar none, but I don’t really see much sense in questioning that there is such thing as a due process in Europe, any more that I see any sense when similar doubts are raised by Europeans regarding American justice. Ms. Knox will get another day in court on appeal and the matters should rest there. Let it also be known that by definition the Pope can have no granddaughters, at least none he could claim as his own. Perhaps Ms. Bachrach is joking but why drag the Pope into this at all?
As for Ireland being a basket case, I wonder: What has happened to the Celtic tiger, a favorite place for US companies to invest and base their operations in? Ireland has been in serious trouble since it housing bubble — sound familiar? — burst but the reasons for the bailout have as much if not more to do with other EU countries and the risk of contagion as with Ireland itself. It also helps to be able to tell the difference between political rhetoric and a true position of a government: as the latest developments show, the former may make Irish ministers sound like any other politicians but it does not necessarily make the country “infantile, angry, boastful, and ultimately feeble,” nor does it make it a basket case. It only makes it troubled. And as for deficits … oh, come on, Judy. This is not the right time to cast stones in either direction.
The Americans I know are nice, open, and generous people. But in the end, after all her years on the continent, Ms. Bachrach is perfectly entitled to her own take on Europe, ill-humored as it is. The only reason I chose to comment on it is that it seems to be symptomatic of the rapidly declining understanding and even interest between the two sides of the Atlantic. I cannot help but wonder who will benefit from it.