by Dennis Prager
June 6, 2023
This one of the saddest of the more than 1,000 columns I have written.
I am writing in Budapest after spending four days in Warsaw last week and four days in Munich two weeks before that.
To put this in context: I have traveled abroad every year since I was 18 years old — except for 2020, because of the "experts"-induced destructive, irrational, police-state lockdowns.
Thanks to all that travel, I have visited 130 countries.
All of my life, traveling abroad prompted ever more appreciation of America and ever more gratitude for living here. Every time I returned to the USA, I felt a surge of patriotism when I saw the American flag at passport control.
Something I could never have imagined has happened in the last few years. I have begun to envy Europeans. With few exceptions — most notably the U.K., the one English-speaking country in Europe — few of the pathologies that are destroying America are present to any analogous degree in Europe.
Here is an example: My wife and I and another couple hired a driver and an English-speaking guide in Warsaw. The guide was a woman of the left. Though we never raised any political subject, like leftists tend to do, she let us know her negative feelings about Poland's conservative president, Andrzej Duda, Hungary's conservative prime minister, Viktor Orban, and, of course, America's former president, Donald Trump. She let us know that she hated all three of them.
But when I asked her if anyone she knew would say that men give birth or that children should choose their own sex, she gave me a confused look. "Who does that?" she asked.
Europe's leftists loathe conservatives as much as the left in America does, are as anti-nationalism, are just as prepared to shatter the economic life of their countries in the name of environmentalism, support ever-growing state and EU power, and supported mandatory COVID vaccinations as much as the American left. But they are not prepared to tell first graders they can choose their "gender," remove the healthy breasts of girls who say they are boys, or have "all-gender" (as distinguished from unisex) bathrooms.
Few, if any, European countries are wracked by the trans tensions — such as whether sex is binary, whether children should be exposed to drag queens and whether they should be given hormone blockers — that are wracking American life. Even England has barred trans women swimmers from competing against women swimmers. As reported by Openly News, an LGBTQ news organization, "Swim England follows similar rulings by World Athletics, Scottish Rugby, FINA, England's Rugby Football Union and the International Rugby League, all of which have banned trans women who transitioned after puberty from competing in female categories."
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a male JetBlue flight attendant wears a skirt while working on flights. That is also the policy of the British-based airline Virgin Atlantic, though I have not seen a photograph of a male Virgin Atlantic flight attendant wearing a skirt as I have a JetBlue flight attendant. And surely other U.S. airlines will follow. Will this take place on board European airplanes? Perhaps. But if you people-watch on the streets of European capitals, let alone in small cities, you will find that far more European women — including young women — dress as women than do women in America.
In other words, no matter how left the politics of European countries, few deny the male-female distinction as much as America does. In fact, in Europe, they appear to value it.
There are other ways in which life in Europe seems less tense than in America. In Munich, Warsaw and Budapest, I saw virtually no homeless people — and certainly no homeless encampments, no tents pitched on city sidewalks. Nor are children in European countries taught to loathe their own society as American young people are. And Europeans still venerate their statues.
Two years ago, even the woke New York Times acknowledged that Europe's left is different. Under the headline "Will American Ideas Tear France Apart? Some of Its Leaders Think So," the article began:
"The threat is said to be existential. It fuels secessionism. Gnaws at national unity. Abets Islamism. Attacks France's intellectual and cultural heritage.
"The threat? 'Certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States,' said President Emmanuel Macron.
"French politicians, high-profile intellectuals and journalists are warning that progressive American ideas — specifically on race, gender, post-colonialism — are undermining their society. 'There's a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities,' warned Mr. Macron's education minister."
During the lockdowns in states such as California that were ruining small business, the economy in general, and the precious and irretrievable years of children's youth in particular, I wrote a column about how I, a Californian, felt on a visit to Florida where businesses were open, people ate in restaurants without masks, and my grandchildren attended school and other activities of normal childhood. I wrote that in Florida, I felt like I did during the Cold War when I returned to the West after spending time in communist countries.
And now, for the first time in my life, I feel freer in Europe than in America.
That's why this is one of the saddest columns I've ever written.