Applicable not only in the original context of Richard "Wretchard" Fernandez' comment to this Belmont Club post:
Symbols matter. At least they matter to some. Those who laugh at Potemkin villages should remember how many of the pre-World War 2 British intelligensia were hoodwinked by them. The 19th century Raj had not yet found pomp and ceremony distasteful. They overawed the locals with grand spectacles, bombastic titles and above all, a manner of effortless superiority. Perhaps Europeans, never having had the colonial experience in relatively modern times, with exception of the German occupation, don’t know what it is like to be treated like a “native”.
Well, it’s like this. You are constantly praising the other person’s culture, making room for his cultural symbols. You are continuously apologizing for your religion as the superstition of mere rustics. You are made to stamp on your own traditions and deities. It becomes cool to wear articles of clothing of the conquering civilization. If you have a perfectly good English name you make haste to change it something fashionably Arabic, or ethnic at least. Finally you let a potentate parade women recruited from the local population in a public place. And then you say, “it’s good, I like it”.
What you don’t realize is that, far from obtaining the respect of your betters, you have actually earned his eternal contempt. He regards you as subhuman. He has a special term for you, like “whore” if you are the First Lady of France. And once again you bob your head and say, “it’s good, I like it”. And you cast your eyes around and notice who’s not bowing. Is that Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck over there? For shame! They are bigots. Mere rubes. For nothing is more sophisticated than to slavishly ape the manners of the Other.
That’s what it feels like to be conquered. The feeling is novel to Europe; perhaps even strange. Don’t worry. They’ll get used to it.
As will at least 150 million Americans.
What about them, both before, during, and after any Restoration struggle?
Think long and hard on that one, my friends.