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Europe is not our boss anymore

Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Thiede is right. We did fight a war with Europe and those traffic roundabouts being proposed for the College Drive project seem vaguely European to me as well. 

Technically, I guess we never fought a war with Europe — we’ve fought with and against various European nations at different times. But the point is, they’re not the boss of us anymore.

Do Brainerd and Baxter residents want a mustached, white-gloved French gendarme blowing his whistle at them and frantically waving them through a College Drive intersection? Non! Not me! It may start out innocently with European-styled roundabouts, but how long will it be before we’re reduced to wearing little berets and carrying long loaves of French bread on our back as we bicycle home on College Drive? 

Thiede’s comments were made at Tuesday’s county board meeting where he said he has driven many roundabouts and his aversion to them is not a fear of the unknown. I guess the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

“Being a good American that I am and thinking that we fought a war with Europe over some things, this is one of those things that seems to me to be European,” Thiede said.

Darn right it is. There’s a long list of European influences that have been creeping into American life. In the immortal words of another good American, Deputy Barney Fife, we’ve got to nip it. Nip it in the bud!

Here are more European influences which I’d call to your attention.

• Beer gardens — Had Oak Lawn Township approved a beer garden for Crow Wing County Fair it wouldn’t have been long before the lederhosen, the beer steins and the German songs would have followed suit.

• Wine — Most of us can’t pronounce the names. Waitresses are clearly embarrassed for me when I struggle to order sauvignon blanc or Gewürztraminer. Tired of it.

• Automobiles — Perhaps the Volkswagens, Audis and other European automobiles are specifically designed to handle roundabouts. Where will that leave the drivers of U.S.-made vehicles? 

• Lutefisk — Any Scandinavian descendants want to defend that stuff? Really?

• Railroads — Europe’s railroads are widely praised as an efficient way to transport people, particularly in congested areas. Americans built a transcontinental rail line from east to west to show we could do it and then invented the airplane and the interstate highway system so we wouldn’t have to ride in those drafty train cars.

• Dutch treat dates — Try that idea out on your red-blooded American sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. See how it works for you.

• Scotch tape — The darn tape segments scrunch up into an unsightly mess every time I try to wrap a Christmas present. 

• Trees — What’s wrong with American pines? Why did Minnesota have to pick the Norway Pine as its state tree?

• Athletics — Soccer fans insist on calling their favorite sport football and claim that it makes more sense because their athletes can’t use their hands. And why do we continue to use Roman numerals to identify the Super Bowls?

Europe’s influence continues to dog the United States, in everything from cooking to those little outdoor cafes one sees on sidewalks. It’s time to stand up for America and draw the line at European-style traffic roundabouts. 

In the approximate words of another good American, “Give me stoplights or give me death!”

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at or 855-5860.