Nil, I have traveled enough around Europe and paid enough attention to America's European friends to have some firm ideas about a particular kind of sniping, yapping anti-Americanism. But boy oh boy do the Euros get mad if an American punctures European pretentions. And frankly, I am getting tired of such pretentions, and I do not expect to see them here. whiic's comments were not just in bad taste; they were absurd and stupid. whiic didn't bother to pose hypothetical time lines with and without the US; rather, he plucked a recent legal event and inferred that Americans were a bunch of easily led zombies. Thus, it is surely relevant to give instances where such "zombies" contributed disproportionately to modern life. And, if we are to compare legal events of Europe with those of the US, surely it is fitting to compare the EU Constitution with the American one (for a start).
I will resist the urge to address your response line by line, but I will respond with some particulars, and I will not pretend to have a time machine. I will simply rely on what America actually did to be "mostly responsible for modernity." The US:
(0) Invented the democratic republic and thus good government. We can talk about the roles of European thinkers here, but if we consider Europe, we also must discuss all of the really bad European ideas (and implementations) as well. Every modern democracy is based on the American model.
(1) Prevented Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan from returning the West to an atavistic totalitarianism. Do you think that might have been a necessary condition for modernity, or have I really offered "one of the silliest statements you have ever heard"?
(2) Prevented the USSR from controlling all of Europe after WW2. Do you think that was not necessary for modernity?
(3) Was responsible for all major computer operating systems that have ever existed. (And please, Linux is simply Unix.)
(4) Was resposible for all major hardware platforms.
(5) Oh, yes, the light bulb, the telephone, the car, flight, mass production technologies, etc, etc.
The US hasn't simply been one among many players in all this. It has been, by far, the most important player. While I cannot know what an alternative universe without the US would have looked like, that is irrelevant here. (However, having just hopped into my time machine, I would predict that had the US never existed, Nazi Germany would still have arisen, but the result of WW2 would have been quite different. Try to square totalitarianism with modernity.)
As for your suggestion that America gets rich at the expense of others, I would say that America has facilitated a world economic system that only a socialist or anarchist believes has not raised all boats. Incidentally, there is nothing intrinsically exploitative about capitalism.
In general, I think it is unncessary to point out such facts of life to my European friends. But just as you were unable to resist addressing a posting that was weeks old when you replied to it, I am unable to resist clarifying my position.
And by the way, your comment about "Intelligent Design" is a typical Euro-sneer. I will respond by suggesting that at least Americans did not invent spontaneous generation.