We have much in common with our friends in England and the rest of Western Europe. But we also have many differences, large and small. Culture, cuisine, language, accents, dress. You name it. Vive la difference!
But the biggest, and best, difference between us is a little old 45-word paragraph we added to our Constitution called the First Amendment.
It prevents the government from squelching our speech, among other things. But the spirit of the First Amendment has also gotten into our DNA and made Americans very defensive about any attempts by anybody to shut us up.
That's why what happened to Dutch politician Geert Wilders in Britain would never happen here.
British officials determined that Wilders' anti-Islamic ideas were a threat to "community security." So on Thursday they detained him at Heathrow Airport like an international criminal and told him to go home.
Europe has, in essence, criminalized the "wrong" sort of thought.
Yep. George Orwell sure saw that coming.
British officials say they "opposes extremism in all its forms." Yet, they've had an embarrassingly spotty record of opposing Islamic extremism, having tolerated the most vile Islamic extremist clerics for years.
Wilders has an anti-Islamic film called Fitna , which at least one reviewer writes is "too sad, mad and bad (offensive as it is) to warrant censorship." So, ironically, the political correctness crowd is giving the film more attention than it apparently deserves.
In the process, England is showing the world what it thinks of free speech. Not very much at all, it seems.
We don't endorse Wilders or his views or his reportedly wretched film. But we sure endorse his right to speak his mind.
It's an increasingly rare commodity on the world market these days.