A transported Yank who writes for a Brit newspaper, columnist Janet Daley has often wondered if the distinctive English spoken in her native Boston is similar to what the ancestors of many Bostonians spoke in before coming to these shores.
“Eighteenth-century spoken English may or may not survive in America and in Australia,” Daley writes, “but 18th-century ideas about liberty and the redeeming quality of democracy certainly seem to have found a permanent home in exile.”
Such ideas may not be thriving in the motherland. Listening to George W. Bush talk to Europeans about freedom, Daley could “almost hear the injured bewilderment in his voice: this was all your idea in the first place. Whatever happened to your commitment to the values enshrined in Magna Carta and the French Revolution — the doctrine of the rights of man and of government by consent?”
Daley says that Bush is incomprehensible to Europeans because they have “pretty much given up on the whole undertaking [of freedom] now: we tried it and it ended in the Terror….Better to make your cynical peace with the worst aspects of human nature than to pretend that free men will always choose good over evil. …[W]hatever it is, [Europe] no longer has a belief in real democracy of the kind that Americans recognise — government of the people, by the people and for the people — at its heart.
“That is why Jacques Chirac — the very embodiment of corrupt European political cynicism — and George Bush can never, ever find true common ground. When the President tries to give credit where it is due — to the European authorship of democratic revolution – it sounds faintly sarcastic.”