Boring bien pensant opinion in Europe has long maintained that low-brow American culture — all the greasy fast food, oafish Hollywood shoot ‘em up films (often starring a muscle-bound Austrian, Belgian, or Swede), and schlock television — has done incalculable damage to highbrow European culture. And it has happened with the assent of the average European, who happily scarfs down a McRib sandwich, feet swaddled in Air Jordans, while queuing for the latest “Transformers” film.
But there is a more pernicious American cultural invasion, as irritatingly destructive as the North American gray squirrel and, unlike the Hollywood blockbuster, wholly immune from free market pressures. It was noticed in 1994 by a reporter for Reuters, who gravely reported that the scourge of political correctness, “an American import regarded by many Britons with the same distaste as an unpleasant virus, finally seems to be infecting British society.” First it poisons the local universities, then within a generation wends its way into the broader culture, wreaking havoc on the native intellectual ecosystem. It’s the most odious, implacable, and least remarked upon manifestation of American cultural imperialism.