OFF THE GRID

Amanda Is America

Dec 8, 09 | 9:26 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Not too long ago, Amanda Knox, convicted the other day in Italy of murdering her junior-year-abroad roommate, Meredith Kercher, was “Foxy Knoxy.” Now she is martyred Amanda, a tabloid Joan of Arc, an immensely sympathetic character at the center of a monstrous international miscarriage of justice.

Because the Italian judicial system, which is now also on trial, allows for prolonged appeals—essentially do-overs of the original trial—we will be hearing about St. Amanda for a long time to come. So let’s pick up the story:

It is not about who killed Meredith Kercher. Because of mistakes in the investigation, fatal mishandling of the evidence, and all manner of bias, there will likely never be a reasonable conclusion of guilt (or innocence). Hence, the story is, in part, about bungling and about bias. Or, it is about the larger meaning of bias. The Italian bias is against Americans, who are arrogant and entitled. The American bias is against Italians, who are bunglers. Jokers. Clowns.

Indeed, the fate of Amanda Knox has now become a significant diplomatic issue, having to do not just with the rights of a young American abroad but with the ever-increasing distaste, among Americans, for Europe.

The US secretary of state, when asked about the verdict, rather oddly replied that she was willing to listen to anyone who had doubts, as though she were the ultimate appeals court. The Italian press pushed this further, with Corriere Della Sera headlining the story: “Amanda: Clinton Intervenes.”

If Europe is distasteful, Italy is an especially easy target of our aversion.

There’s Silvio Berlusconi. The prime minister has come, for much of the world, to embody the screwball nature of Italy, with its myriad and fantastic dysfunctions and illogic. Italian standards may apply to Italians but they shouldn’t, reasonably, apply to anyone else. Even the traditionally bloodthirsty and misogynistic British press has gone soft on Amanda (even though she’s now been convicted of murdering a British girl). Between a doping, sex-crazed American mall rat who may have slit her friend’s throat and Silvio Berlusconi, there’s no contest; the former is more prudent and rational.

For the Italians—and, it would seem especially, the Italian jury, which, after a two-year legal proceeding, convicted Knox within hours—the trial may have righted the judicial balance with the US. There’s the American military pilot who cut the cable of a sky gondola, killing 20 in Italy (“Massacre of Cermis”), and who was later acquitted in a US military court. There’s the Italian intelligence agent shot dead by US soldiers in Iraq as he freed an Italian journalist—nobody held accountable here. One might go so far as to say that Amanda Knox is guilty of the war in Iraq.

Every nation is, more and more, dangerously righteous.

This 22-year-old American girl, guilty certainly of great carelessness if not much worse, is about to become a personage in the bitter battle for standing and primacy in the world.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.
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