More on the European fairy tale, both at home and abroad

Yesterday, I wrote about European fairy tales versus American fairy tales.  Of the former, I said:

That’s the theme in the majority of fairy tales that originated in the old world:  be good, be passive, and some deus ex machina figure, usually magical, will come and rescue you.  Passivity is the name of the game.  In one fairy tale after another, the lead character, usually the youngest child of at least three siblings, prevails by virtue of being nice.

My own words popped into my head when I read David Pryce-Jones’ description of the way in which European leaders are coping with the EU’s economic collapse:

The level of unreality created by the masters of Europe is reaching new heights. It is like hallucinating to observe the politicians driving in expensive cars to meet one another, inspecting guards of honor, arranging for ministerial get-togethers, and all the while the construct that put them into office is collapsing all around them. These same politicians chatter extensively about saving the euro and the European Union, about bailouts and firewalls and fiscal pacts, as though words were deeds. No satirist could do justice to the sight of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President François Hollande shaking hands and vowing to work together to save the union and its currency. Insofar as this pair has any coherent ideas, they disagree. All they have in common is the precariousness of their position. Just trounced in local elections, Mrs. Merkel and her party are well on the way to joining the gathering crowd of electoral rejects. As for Hollande, he believes that growth comes from higher taxes and hundreds of thousands more state jobs, and all in arch-protectionist France. It can’t be long before such socialist illusion comes back to haunt that country.

Off they go, those little European fairy tale characters, being “nice” (leading parades, making speeches), all the while clearly hoping that some deus ex machina will come along and save them.  America actually did save them twice (three times if you count the Cold War as WWIII), but America now has a president who is also in thrall to the European fairy tale world view.  He’s waiting too.

Mitt Romney isn’t Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, or even Weems’ George Washington, but I think he has a much better grasp of the American fairy tale (stand tall and fight your own battles) than do the actual Europeans abroad or the faux European in the White House.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    David Pryce-Jones is ….price-less!

    Has anyone noticed, however, that in American mythology, the individual overcomes tremendous odds and, in the last instance, triumphs and survives to tell the tale. 

    In French and German mythology, the hero dies a tragic death.

    So it goes. 

  • Ymarsakar

    and some deus ex machina figure, usually magical, will come and rescue you.

    You mean like in Mass Effect 3? 

  • Caped Crusader

    A very interesting website that will tell you more than you ever knew (and may want to know) about fairy tales and nursery rhymes:

  • socratease

    Men substitute words for reality and then argue about the words.

    Edwin Howard Armstrong

  • David Foster

    “in American mythology, the individual overcomes tremendous odds and, in the last instance, triumphs and survives to tell the tale”….not always, though….consider the Alamo.

    It would be interesting to add American Indian and African American legends to the folktale mix. 

  • Ymarsakar

    The Alamo was a real story that was made into the rallying cry for Texas Independence. Thus the entire story was that the deaths at the Alamo were not in vain because the Texas rangers fought on with a united Texas behind them due to the ALamo. And succeeded.



    Nothing changes. In 64 it was Nero. Sixteen centuries later it’s the Euro, with or w/o a fiddle.

  • Ymarsakar

    Well something did change. IN Nero’s time the peasants had to do work and get killed in job lots just to get to the capital and the palace through the Praetorian guard. Now a days all we need is a nuke planted at the heart of DC and it’ll wipe out most of the corruption. 98% voted for Obama in the DC section was the number. Almost as good as Saddam’s election.

  • Michael Adams

    David Foster,
    There are the Gullah folk tales, collected by Joel Chandler Harris, the Uncle Remus stories.  They are now considered racist, which is stupidity, several layers deep.  It’s even worse than claiming Huckleberry Finn is racist.  I told my kids Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, mostly in Gullah, so now they can tell it to my grandkids.
    During the Texas Bust, about the time that  Ms, Book Worm was living in Austin, we went for long periods without a car. When I took my three-year-old son out with me to do errands, I told stories, including Br’er Rabbit.  People actually missed their stop, to hear the end of the story,  and even Black people thought I had made it up, so separated are all of us from our heritage. Br’er Rabbit is considered a kind of Jack Tale, a story in which the wily  country boy overcomes great odds by pluck, and, of course, wiles.