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Karl, you wrote, "We pay a huge price in loss of sympathy abroad every time he opens his mouth."

After 9/11, my neighbor and I were discussing it and Europe's response. I told her we weren't going to get any help from them, she was surprised. Then the paper tears came and I was a sucker for the LeMonde headline, but didn't read the rest of the article blaming US.

I thought that maybe they'd help. But no, true-to-form, they went back.

For the US to be liked we will have to give up everything we are. ICC violates our 4th, 5th and 6th Amendment rights, and arguably some others, but some in Europe believe we shouldn't rely on a 200 year-old document, we should change for the good of the world. Plus, it's European law and we're not European.

I've been listening to our betters for 20-odd years now and my parents listening to them far longer, they haven't changed, their history precedes them.

The price is too high to get along. We'll work with them when we can and go our own way when we can't. UN wants world-wide gun control and control of the 'net. We've been told for decades Europe knows our history better than we do, yet they still don't get us. Even Britain, and our document is written in the King's English.

Sandy, if you've read my posts on these three threads you know that I don't take much stock in Old Europe's international politics. It is not a question of being liked or of adopting Europe's approach, but rather pursuing America's legitimate interests with as many allies and at the lowest cost to us. This is a long battle and we need to keep our cool, even in the face of rabidly hateful adversaries.

I found this at Andrew Sullivan's website this mornng.

"By reputation, the President [GWB] was a very avid and skillful poker player when he was an MBA student. One of the secrets of a successful poker player is to encourage your opponent to bet a lot of chips on a losing hand. This is a pattern of behavior one sees repeatedly in George W. Bush’s political career. He is not one to loudly proclaim his strengths at the beginning of a campaign. Instead, he bides his time, does not respond forcefully, a least at first, to critiques from his enemies, no matter how loud and annoying they get."

Maybe Rummy should play a few rounds with the boss.

TM, good luck with the new venture in Maryland. I hope you don't suffer from reverse culture shock. Six years is a big chunk of time. You're right about the intervention in Yugoslavia not being that popular here. Schröder had to put his red-green coalition on the line to force the intervention through. They made the right choice, but the rationale used was "to prevent genocide." They did not see such a risk in Iraq. I wish the Germans had just stated calmly once that they would not become involved in Iraq instead of indulging in their '68-style rebellion. No one asked Germany to fight in Iraq. But, listening to Schröder you would have thought Germans were being asked to take out Baghdad single-handedly. The rest is history.

Nothing to see here, move along. Western civilization is safe--via Rantburg.com.

...Muslim extremist Omar Bakri — speaking in London’s East End — said suicide bombers were assured a place in paradise.
Bakri described such bombings as “self-sacrifice operations”.
An example would be to crash a plane on to 10 Downing Street or the White House, he told a cheering audience of Muslims, including around ten young children.
In one outburst he raged: “You must fight for the way of Allah, for the sake of Allah, to kill first and to be killed.”
Bakri, 44, who has been nicknamed the Tottenham Ayatollah, preached his sick gospel of terrorism at a hall in Bethnal Green.
The full rant was captured by BBC reporter Paul Kenyon — who said: “There’s no doubt he was talking about what it takes to be a suicide bomber.”...

The great chicagoan and german-american named Rumsfeld is a genious, plain and simple. I take one look at a guy like Peter Stuck and immediatley expect him to mace me with his left-over stash of gas. His look explains his demeanour.
Anyway- Take a look at the insanley varying degrees of practical substance offered by Fischer and Rumsfeld in Much last weekend via the link to the speeches below.
Please note the Euro habit conveyed by Fischer indicating that "planning forums, creating groups,professing declarations is what will heal the world's ills...ALL WITH CONDITIONS".... Ahh, plans, and discussions, and forums created to foster worthless chatter void of action and resolve have conditions attached.
Fischer's speech is contrasted highly by Rumsfeld's speech which is noteworthy for it's "items of action" and it's "can do" attitude that does not believe in the antiquated EU notion of fostering decade long debates that fail to materialise into concrete action and thus concrete successes. That type of mind-set is clearly what has paralyzed the euro community both socially and economically. I invite all to read the text and then discuss further this huge ideological divide. The diference in these speeches can go a long way to explain the over-all drivel emmitting from the half-baked EU today. I fear the EU is condemed to fail with voices of delushion such as chirac, schroeder, Fischer and the politcal french pilot fish known as belgium "leading europe's way".
http://securityconference.de/konferenzen/2004/samstag_vormittag.php?menu_2004=&menu_konferenzen=&sprache=en&

There is hope.

I just spent the last 2.5 hours watching a program on Arte (French/German cable) called Amerika, Europa und der Krieg (America, Europe and the war). The show was divided into three portions. First, America's perspective on the war was shown. More than balanced, the show attempted to allow the European viewers to crawl into the skins of Americans at ground zero and presented only the American perspective. The neoconservative view was presented forcefully by Monsiuer Perle himself as well as a wonderfully articulate French military man who castigated his own country's stance towards America and Iraq. The second portion of the show focused on America's technological advances in things military and compared them with Europe's and posed such questions as "if America were to abandon us, would we be able to defend ourselves?" The third part of the program was a discussion round with three beneficiaries of war: one Kurd, one Bosnian, and one Afghan. Each one explained how much better their country was as a result of a war. The French moderator ended with the question to his European viewers whether perhaps in some instances war is justified.

After I get done here I'm writing a thank you note to Arte. This is typical for my experience in Europe. After Gulf War I there was also a long period of reflection over whether, in spite of all the loud cries to the contrary in the media, the war had been justified. Those debates were critical for preparing Germany psychologically for the Kosovo intervention. And again, Europe was behind the curve on Iraq II. If this show and some of the other articles that are appearing (e.g. Pascal Bruckner) are any indication, Europe is trying again to catch up. You have to give Arte a great deal of credit for running that show.

And even more credit to Arte for that great counting-sheep thing they broadcast (or used to?) in the middle of the night, after regular broadcasting is over.

And still more for showing the films of Wang Kar-Wei, Abbas Kiarostami, and Chris Marker.

Thanks for the report, Karl. I've been avoiding arte, and television altogether, because of the propagandistic stuff I've seen in recent months. Interesting that the program you saw was French, and not German. Americans normally assume that the French are incurably anti-American, while the Germans are basically sound. I suspect this picture is more than a little distorted...

I thought that the programming on French Arte and German Arte was identical. Was that assumption wrong?

I don't know whether the programming is identical but most of the shows are simulcast. My old TV has a defect, so I get the French out of one speaker and the German out of the other. Talk about Babel!

There's hope II.

The ARD commentary on Iran on the late news last night (ca. 22:00) was about as sober as anything I've seen lately. Not only did the commentator acknowledge that Iran's reforms had failed, he chastized Germany for having been so eager to do business with the theocracy. He concluded by stating that perhaps the Iranians will remember this and that other countries, namely the USA, were more willing to confront the undemocratic forces in Iran.

French out of one speaker and German out of the other?! That is too funny. Have you considered psychotropic drugs?

First a request for help: There are French writers directly confronting anti-Americanism in Europe; Revel, Bruckner, etc. Are there any German writers addressing the issue I could read?

Second, I want to address Rumsfeld and the discomfiture his remarks caused both in the German media and with some posters here. My initial response to it was "Tough darts", but the respect I've developed for some people here caused me to reflect first.

Rumsfeld directly challenged the media on the accuracy of their reportage. He compared it unforavably to al Jazeera. THAT was unfortunate. It was like calling someone a racist. Instead he should have given direct examples that could have been addressed factually. Sadly, his method will not result in any self-examination by the media, but will only reinforce the caricature of the crude, simplistic U.S.

The fact that I would have said exactly the same thing with alot more glee is neither here nor there - he gets paid more than I do and should know better.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will probably vote for Bush, and in truth it will be a vote for Rumsfeld. I do truly think he is remarkable.

Now. Rumsfeld's awkwardness notwithstanding, blunt talk from the U.S. is something Europe needs desperately. The Applebaum link noted above, cited a U.S. official's explanation for failure to signon to the ICC as due to constitutional issues was received in Europe as "We can do anything we want". Here is a classic example of Europe being permitted to ignore THE FACT of what was said.

That permission, tacit or otherwise, must be withdrawn. If, as some here have noted, the current administration has done a poor job of making its case, please include the fact that previous administrations have tried diligently for years, only to be, figuratively if not literally, spat upon. Now Europe complains about being ignored by her perennial whipping boy who isn't all that interested in getting slapped around any more.

Europe will slither into the sewer if she persists in fantastical, un-factual thinking. The womb that birthed two of the most maniacal regimes ever known in less than thirty years is once again in the throes of a mystic zealotry. I don't know how to conteract that except by unrelenting insistence on fact.

I'm due to leave in an hour or so and will be gone for a week. No access to the web I'm afraid. If anyone has ideas for German writers I might read (preferably in English, but I could get it translated, I guess), please email me.

Thanks

I bet tm has 20 links for you Pamela.

Going back to my thesis that anti-americanism in Germany is more a left-right issue, interested readers might want to check out Angelika Merkel's (she's head of the Christain Democrats) article that appeared in the Washington Post at the height of the Iraq debate. It is published here, too:

http://www.cducsu.de/upload/merkel_wpost_20030220.pdf

This woman earned my undying respect for her courage in taking an unpopular stand. She paid a high political price and was accused by the SPD & Greens of stabbing Germany in the back (ah, the good old Dolchstoss argument). If she had been Chancellor instead of Schröder, Germany would have handled the Iraq matter much differently and Dave probably wouldn't have needed to start this blog.

Other names that come to mind are Henryk Broder, Josef Joffe and Maxeiner & Miersch, but I don't know to what extent they've been translated in English. Henryk Broder is the closest thing to H.L. Mencken that Germany has (we could use one like him back in the U.S, too). His criticisms of Germany are devastating and funny.

Pamela, I'm going to think about what you said about the need for a more aggressive tone in our discussions with the Europeans. It is a fascinating issue, one that fits well into this blog. You have a fair point that the Europeans have been "screaming" at us for years, or at least wagging their fingers. In Germany, they used to be in the opposition, so it didn't matter. Now they are in power and it does.

Maybe Henryk Broder?

I finally got around to reading my Zeit today and what a great article I stumbled across:

Die transatlantische Tragödie
Den Europäern ist es wichtiger, Amerika einzuhegen, als mit der Supermacht Gefahren zu bekämpfen

http://www.zeit.de/2004/08/Essay_Kagan

This is basically what we need to be discussing with our European friends and adversaries for the next years.

I am of middle age and a resident of the "Midwest," the great central area of the U.S. where agriculture and manufacturing both thrive. The general inclination of most Midwest residents is to disbelieve and be skeptical of the ideas and thoughts of anyone living on our east or west coast. We are a hard working group of people with generally moderate to convervative political views. There's too little interest in this geographic area in many world concerns, let along world political beliefs.

I have a striking image in my memory of a trip to Vienna with my wife in 1985. We stayed at the luxury International Hotel and one day a large group of youths gathered to demonstrate. From the window of our room we couldn't read the signs so my wife went down to get a closer look and I stood watch from our window with a telephoto telyt lens attached to my Leica. She walked up to the cordon where the Austrian police were keeping the students at a distance of about 50 meters from the hotel. Her German being better than mine, hence her selection to be our investigator, she read the signs and would occasionally turn and wave up at the window where I'd snap her photo. She walked down the line smiling and was greeted in a friendly manner by the students, not much younger than she.

She accepted a variety of pamphlets offered to her and the Austrian police in no way interferred with her talking to the demonstrators. While the crowd eventually began to loudly shout some very strong anti-American comments (including some containing vulgar language but which we found amusing. On the whole her sortie to investigate the demonstration generally suggested that the young men and women involved were personally quite friendly. They had many issues in dealing with "America," hence the demonstration in front of a hotel frequented by Americans, but were entirely friendly and gracious to an individual American.

Over the course of the next few days we visited with various guests at the hotel who had noticed the "demonstration." None of them had any idea what it was all about. No idea at all. I recall one gentleman, a Brit not a Yank, who had the impression they were demonstrating against wages or employment practices of the hotel.

Does this any homily have any useful meaning? I have no idea. I regret that we initially hadn't had a greater interest and that I didn't go down to visit with the demonstrators as well. We became occupied in translating the materials my wife had been given and by the time our thoughts turned to the demonstration it was over. We scoured the materials she'd picked up. We never did understand what specific concerns or complaints the students had against America. But they were "Anti-American," but not anti my wife. We'd both participated in demonstrations of various sort (civil rights, anti-war in Vietnam) a few years earlier. She had no fear of the group (I would guess 200-300 in number) and they proved to be quite cordial to her.

Austria and Germany were then, and now, entirely different countries politically. But we did make a point of examing many political posters which were up all over Vienna. But the curious, or perhaps not surprising thing at all, was that although we were in Vienna for about three weeks we never did understand the anti-Americanism we encountered, we never did come to an understanding of the local politics involved in the election...we left Vienna as much "outsiders" as when we arrived. And we tried. We had conversations with those of a variety of nations, including German, Brit, Italian, Japanese, and Canadian. We tried to understand and get their take on what was going on in the political scene in Vienna. We talked to many friendly people in the numerous cafes of Vienna. But we left with no clear understanding of much of anything. We talked to a number of citizens of that city who were opposed to building additional nuclear reactors for energy. We talked to others who considered it important to continue their construction.

How do foreignors like we really understand or have an insight in the political thoughts and ideas of others in such circumstances? Do we rely on the American press? The Austrian press? Other journalism in Europe about what's going on in Austria? Is blogging a better answer and why?

Here in the Midwest George W. Bush enjoys wide spread support. So does his war in Iraq. We are conservative, hard working people and when we perceive an evil and decide to support action against it we do so not out of any hidden motivations. The support, in fact, is very simplistic at its heart. No WMD? Oh, that's OK because it turns out Sadaam was really worse than we thought (torturing his people, etc.) so it all turns out well in the long run anyway. Simplistic.

There is serious animosity towards the French which remains because France did not support the U.S. In the Midwest I think the attitude towards the failure of our German friends to support the war is more a surprise and puzzlement. I've not seen or heard much animosity towards Germany except in the national press, which we tend to avoid because it's based on the East Coast.

This is not a post from someone ignorant of the present concerns of Germans or many others in Europe. We're as confused about how the E.U. will evolve as I thing the participants themselves are. We see wide regional differences in the U.S. and find little reason that such would not be present in Europe. But in the Midwest many of our original settlers are German. Our German heritage (as well as Scandinavian and English) are very strong. We don't view America as some monolith but as a synthesis of many nationalities. We now have many Mexican and Central American peoples in our population. They seem to be blending in with no major problems with those of us who cherish our German, English, or Norwegian (or whatever) heritage. That Western Europeans would disagree with us is beyond our understanding (broad generalization). The French, as noted, we can somewhat understand because of perceived economic ties between France and Iraq. But Germans? I think most of us are baffled and a bit confused.

Rambling thoughts end.....

Enjoyed your post, Steve, it gave a nice description of the Midwestern mentality (I'm from the Midwest but have been living in Germany now for longer than I care to admit).

On another topic, I just saw an interview with an Iran expert on Spiegel TV which totally surprised me in a positive way (similar to what Karl B. experienced with an ARD editorial). The guy made it clear that the present regime is unreformable, that Germany's "Schmusekurs" with it "führt zu nichts", that Khatami and the reform party are a sham, and the Iranian public is demanding, and will get in one way or another, regime change.

Re: Rumsfeld. I agree with Pamela that his bluntness is refreshing and badly needed here. Unfortunately, his comments have often been misunderstood. For instance, a lot of people were upset here about the "Old Europe" comment without even understanding the distinction he was making between Western Europe and the former Soviet bloc countries. They just thought he was making a cheap shot about Europe in general being old.

Europeans, Canadians, and many other "westerners" hate America for a variety of reasons and I'll list a few. They hate us for not signing up for Kyoto, disregarding the fact that the globe has been "warming" since the Ice Age. Must be America's fault. They hate us for not signing the ICC. Yes, it undermines our Constitution which to me is pretty clear and a quite adequate explanation. But, also because (and I do wish Rumsfeld would say this out loud) WE DON'T TRUST THEM AND FOR GOOD DAMN REASON -- just look at the farce of a "war crimes" court attempted in Belgium. But, sure, such an institution would never be politicized, right? They hate us for winning the Cold War. Now that it's over, the US ran around the world boxing at shadows and the Soviet Union was not so bad after all. They hate us for being Democratic Capitalists, and not Socialists and/or Communists. They blame us for helping the Afghans oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan (which has become to their mind, "creating Bin Laden"), and then leaving the Afghans alone (exactly what they prescribe in Iraq). They hate us for being so "Christian", which apparently scares them more, even from a fairly well-educated and democratic society, than Islamists who enjoy a great deal of popular support. They hate us for having the death penalty, but perversely don't hate Islam for stoning unmarried mothers and apostates. They hate us for supporting the right of Israel to exist and defend herself, as if Jews and Christians were virtually wiped out of the cradle of civilization by choice, and not by violence in the name of Islam and institutionalized policies of intimidation and religious warfare. They complain of American "hegemony" and "imperialism" and ignore the fact that we honor their sovereign decisions. French airspace was not violated when their permission for use was not granted. Turkey was not run through when her parliament did not grant use of Turkish ports. They hate us because we have not managed to fix all the world's problems and therefore they are all our fault, cuz we're rich and powerful. Whatever we "do", it is not right, or not enough, or not at the right time, or in the right way. Yet, they expect their incessant bitching at us is contribution enough from them to solve the intractable problems of this world. My conclusion? The US should use all our "hegemony" and "imperial" power to delegate Africa to Europe. So, there you go, France, Germany, Canada, etc. You've got a job to do. Get busy fixing Africa, medically, economically, politically, environmentally, educationally, yada yada ALL OF IT. This is an Imperial demand and I want results.

Solange wir solche Medien haben, wird die Kluft zwischen Europa und den USA immer tiefer werden. In Deutschland gibt es kaum "konservative" Medien. Alles, was rechts von links ist, ist verpönt. Wenn wir Leser uns nicht gegen diesen Medien-Müll wehren, verdienen wir es nicht besser. Wenn ich nachstehenden Artikel lese, denke ich: Arme Welt.

"Mehrheit glaubt der Bibel aufs Wort
USA
Ein Großteil der US-Bürger glaubt, dass sich die Geschichten aus der Bibel wortwörtlich so ereignet haben. Nach einer Umfrage des US-Fernsehsenders ABC sind jeweils rund 60 Prozent der US-Bürger überzeugt, dass Gott die Erde tatsächlich in sechs Tagen erschuf, Moses zusammen mit seinem Volk das Rote Meer durchquerte und es die Sintflut und die Arche Noah tatsächlich gegeben hat. Dagegen weist eine überwältigende Mehrheit, rund 90 Prozent, den Vorwurf zurück, die Juden seien schuld am Tod von Jesus. AFP"


http://www.welt.de/data/2004/02/17/238689.html

Artikel erschienen am 17. Feb 2004


Ein Herr Dr. Ludwig Watzal kann in Deutschland Redakteur der Zeitschrift Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung sein und gleichzeitig für websites wie Antiimperialistische Koordination Wien schreiben. Man möge sich einmal dort ein bißchen umsehen:

http://www.antiimperialista.com/

Diese Organisation hat im Sommercamp 2003 die 10 €-Aktion für die Unterstützung des irakischen Widerstandes ins Leben gerufen. Panorama (ARD) berichtete über die Terrorunterstützung in der dt. "Friedens"bewegung.

Auf dieser website verbreitet also Dr. Watzal seine Ideen über Palästina. Teilweise benutzt er schlimme Propaganda statt politisch zu argumentieren. Wie ist es möglich, daß dieser Mensch Redakteur einer Zeitschrift ist, die die FES herausgibt?

In anderen Artkeln heißt es, die US-Soldaten werden ihre Toten in Särgen aus dem Irak bringen. Terror gegen Besatzungsmächte wird als legale Widerstandsbewegung deklariert.

Wenn Dr. Watzal hier publiziert und gleichzeitig Gelder von deutschen Stiftungen für seine Tätigkeit erhält, ist es an der Zeit, dagegen etwas zu unternehmen. Toleranz hat Grenzen. Haben wir nicht schon lange den Zustand der Dummheit erreicht und nennen ihn noch immer Toleranz?

Hier ist die url für Watzals Artikel:

http://www.antiimperialista.com/de/view.shtml?category=31&id=1071150184&keyword=+


Hello!
i´ve been following this thread for quite a while now. And decided that, even though I don´t have anything new,brilliant or elequent to add, I´d add my 2 cents worth.
I´m a 42 year old Ohioan. I was 10 years in the U.S. Army. 6 of those years were spent over here in Germany. I´ve lived here now13 years come april as a civilian. I am well integrated but have fiercly hung on to my identity as "Ami" Veteran and Buckeye. My life here has been fairly successful. I returned to Tech.School and have been employed as an electronics Technician for 9 years now. I´m on the board of advisors at the local Astronomical Observatory. so I think I have done fine here.
So to simply put it... "Nürnberg is Ohio for me"

But I don´t get it anymore. There was always an anti-American element here. But never in the past 23 years have I seen it so openly celebrated. Day after day I see and read almost nothing but reports that show America in the worst light.
And most of this reporting is so lopsided and biased that it boggles the mind. Were Fat, Stupid, ignorant, violent, childish, naive, weapon fetishists, intolerant, dangerous, the greatest threat to world peace, religious fanatic ect. ect. ect. Thy now refer to Kerry almost exclusivly as "JFK" the list goes on.
On Sept 12 (the day after) I received many calls from people I hadn´t seen in a while. at first i was touched. But then the pattern emerged. "I´m realy sorry. Are you o.k BUT YOU KNOW THAT IT´s ALL BUSHES FAULT" couldn´t believe my ears. My Daughter attend Gymansium. A few days later they held a "Peace" rally. No anger. No condemnation. just an old fashioned pacifistic peace rally!!!!
Then this past spring kids at the Gymnasium started calling my daughte a "Scheiss Ami" (shitty american.) and this is a a Gynasium. Basicly (but maybe over simplified) a Gynasium is an Elite Highschool.
We are now the Boogie Men!
And since I have no american friends here this is very frustrating. I´ve even heard this shit from brits and Irish folks.
I never thought that I would be saying this.( But for what ever the reason is that they hate us so. For which we have done absolutely nothing to deserve!!!)

But it makes me so terribly sad and incredibly furious!! AND I DON`LIKE IT HERE ANYMORE!!!

Doug

To Doug:

Just when things look the darkest, there will be a light. Things are bad, I have to provide facts for all the detractors I encounter on a daily basis. I have developed an attitude of; I am like a duck, everything that the misinformed and disinformed people who accost me, I let their BS run off me, like water off a duck.

I must admit however, that when my daughter would be treated in such a manner, I would take the action necessary under German law to stop it. Contact the Schulamt or a lawyer. There is no acceptable reason that your daughter should tolerate being called a "Scheiss Ami", and neither should you or the rest of your family.

This absolutely unfounded anti-Americanism being foisted upon the German populatin by the media must be confronted at all levels by all the level headed people who look at what is happening, and think that someone else will do something against it. There are too many German people who have their heads in the sand regarding this subject. It is time to fight fire with fire.

I would recommend that you and other family members bone-up on historical facts, and when someone throws anti-American statement at you, you can then throw back facts. If they are truly interested in wanting to change the world they will listen to what you say. When they don't listen, then their minds are poisoned with hate and there is nothing that you can do personally to change them. Anti-Americanism is just another form of "racism". But we all know that "racism" doesn't exist in Germany. We know that "Ausländerfeindlichkeit" is never tolerated except when directed at Americans.

I challenge all you level headed German citizens to now stand up against the idiotic German media and stop this new form of racism that is infecting your great country.

Doug, keep your chin up, stand proud, know that you have friends in Germany, please count me as one of them. United we stand, divided we fall. As Americans we must always stand together, and assist those who are our allies to do the same. The world is a wonderful place, we have to stand up for those who cannot. Don't let a few misguided people change your view of this wonderful country that we both live in.

N. Hale

A few misguided people? I am not so sure if I agree with my husbands posting. I am often disappointed and really sad when we meet people. When the Iraqi war started, we did not get any invitations, no phone calls for some weeks. They attacked us at parties because we did not consider Sharon and Bush terrorists. I stopped reading newspapers because I couldn't bear it any longer. This atmosphere of hatred is a burden. All these terror supporters hidden behind "peace" make me sick. I understand Doug very well and ask myself what country do I live in?

Doug,

Your story really hit home for me. I'm from the Midwest too (from the Hawkeye state--but we can still be friends). I lived in Germany two times in the past and the anti-Americanism, like you say, was always there but never out of control. What you tell me now, and what Gabi informs us, is very shocking to me. Having Gymnasium students calling your daughter a "scheiss Ami" is really too low for words. You have my complete sympathy. I can't tell you how many Kaffee and Kuchen hours I've spent with Germans running down everything, including Germany itself. Having all that negative energy focused on the US is, to be blunt, scary. German media, to me, seems like an extension of those Kaffee and Kuchen sessions where Germans work themselves up into a lather over the ills of life.

And Gabi, I hadn't realized how far all of this anti-Americanism had gone. Being asked to either agree with Michael Moore or get shat upon is, I'm afraid, redolent of Germany's Nazi past. Fascism continues to live in Germany, it seems.

And thanks to all for all the great commentary on this thread. It's nice to follow everyone's ideas and observations and not have to deal with trolls mucking up the debate. Like many here, I have experience in both countries, both Germany and the US, and our discussions have shown me how positive the relationship can be. Can Germans completely eradicate this tendency for fascism? I don't know. I know how arrogant and militaristic Germans were before WWI. If you have read the literature on Germany before WWI, you would have to conclude that Germans were already Nazis then, and I challenge anyone to refute that. So this fascistic tendency has taken a few forms since 1870. And now? Shape-shifter fascism.

If someone wants to kill you because you don't recycle, what do you call that?

If a German prays for American deaths in Iraq, what do you call that?

If a German believes that the US is filled up with immigrant scum from around the world and wonders how they can achieve more than the noble Germans, what do you call that?

Hi!
I have a few observations concerning Racism ect.
What the foundation of racism? Do it have more than one source. Do I hate/dislike someone because they are different? Or do i dislike7hate them because it gives me a feeling of superiority?
I think that a great deal of Anti-Americanism comes from the 2nd reason. "If those other guys are so totaly f*#§ed up, then I must be a whole lot better.While i hate to generalize over people I do beleive that as a group Germans are a very dissatisfied and unhappy group of people. Jammerlappen! and I know that many people here get realy ticked off that Americans genuinely feel good about themselves and where they come from. I realy think that Americans of german descent feel better about that than many Germans do themselves. And what they fail to recognize/realize is that our high selfesteem is at no-ones expense. They don´t understand that. and so they may have to "Demonize" us just so they can feel a little better about themselves.
Secondly, concerning fighting fire with fire and throwing facts back at people. That only works with someone who has an open mind. For example, when i give the tours/observing sessions at the Observatory I run into many people who are die hard beleivers in astology and othe esoteric subject. Try to discuss that with them and show them the logical errors in their thinking. They get so bent out of shape and take it so personaly.
Because so much of their world view is tied up in such belief systems that they can´t seem to see it subjectively (???) anymore. and so it is that so mayn Germans/europeans have invested so much in this anti-American/Bush is Hitler/ the Anti-Christ ( fill in what eve you want here.)Eldars of Zion ect. ect. ect. That they would be forced to face their own shortcommings if they would/could accept the fact that most bad stuff in this world/their lives (or societies) is not Americas fault. But, hey, it´s always easier to place blame than to take responsibility for something.And if you live here you would see very quickly that self responsibility and self reliability are not strongly encouraged characteristics.
and I also have the belief that Germans are terrified of rocking the boat. when my Daughter got ragged at school for being a "Scheiss Ami"
I was ready to go in and "kick ass and take names (not literaly :-) ). But my dear wife paniced and wouldn´t allow it. "It would just make things worse for our daughter" so i guess lots of people here are into appeasment and maintaining the statusquo.
You have to realize that there were actualy Gynasiums over here where they were taking the kids to see "Bowling for Columbine" so the students could see"the real America". and there were " ap"Peace"ment Demostrations being organized within the schools. and it was also encouraged by the schools.
Well tha´t enough bellyaching for now.
take care and keep the faith.
and don´t worry. The center is holding!

Doug

GR,

Ludwig Watzal is nothing but a mouthpiece for the Palestinian "Liberation" Organization.

Unfortunately the man is a highly respected "expert" and "journalist" who gets published often in mainstream media such as Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ). A glance at his personal website www.watzal.com should be enough to confirm my assertion.

Doug,

Hang in there. Every American abroad is an ambassador for his or her country (... and these days, it seems, also an ambassador for reason and a fighter against hysteria and hatemongering!)

You and N. Hale are each doing a fine job, as far as I can tell (ably complemented, of course, by Gabi, David, and many other regular contributors to this web site.)

I'm an American married to a German (and I guess this audience will be thrilled to know that I'm originally from the Midwest as well). We've usually spent 2-3 weeks in Germany every year since we married in 1991. I'll just make two observations:

1. Anti-Americanism is more common among the former West Germans than East Germans.

We've spent our time in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin and Niedersachsen. I've received more criticism of America in West Berlin and Niedersachsen than in East Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. This was occuring before Sept. 11, 2001, as well as since then.

On a related note, I've also observed that the former East Germans are always much more skeptical about anything they hear or read in the German media,particularly the West German media,than the former West Germans.

2. Anti-Americanism is more common among the professional and academic classes

My father-in-law is a research chemist and my wife is a doctor. I've received much more criticism of America from their colleagues than I have from their relatives and other acquaintances who are not part of the professional and academic classes.

The biggest issue that I see with anti-Americanism in Germany is that it is being used by the elite in Germany as a way to avoid having to face the very fundamental reforms that Germany needs. I don't see anti-Americanism in Germany having much impact here (and every DaimlerChrysler and BMW executive certainly hopes I'm right).

Ok, time to acknowledge the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Anti-semitism. I'm not looking to get into an argument about its existence or justification in Europe. It does exist, it's getting worse, and it's not justified.

Go read this article. The EU denies U.S. claim that anti-semitism is like the 1930s.

http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/040213132309.wao8ac2w

Then read the comments. Here is part of one post and it is typical.

>Most Of the Europeans are therefore Anti-Zionist, and we strongly believe this is the one and only barrier against those forces of evil. And for many of us there IS an axis of evil indeed: it runs from Washington straight to Tel-Aviv.

I have two questions: Are anti-semitism and anti-Americanism inextricably linked in Europe?
If you think they are, then I have a question I acknowledge is painful, and I'm willing to take any lumps you dish out; Is it the case that anti-semitism (NOT "anti-Zionism")is at the root of dislike of Israel, and America is disliked because we saved the Jews by acknowleding the Israeli state, thereby preserving the evidence of Europe's crime?

Also, thanks for the recommendations of German writers. I now embark on relearning German after 30 years. Whoopee.

Pamela,

Anti-semitism in Europe is not like it was in the 1930s.

But yes, there is a link. I'd recommend listening to the lectures by Caldwell and then Joffe that I mentioned somewhere above (or you could google "Old Demons, New Debates"). Helpful both for a sense of proportion and an account of the conceptual links (as well as showing a lack of consensus about just how close the relationship actually is). And also the one by Finkielkraut is helpful for explaining why it's not the old antisemitism, and it's not like the 30s.

The sorts of experiences Gabi and Doug have recounted are all too familiar to me, thanks to my erstwhile Belgian host society. I'll look for a link when I have more time, but Salman Rushdie had a piece or two within a few months of 9/11 in which he remarked on how personal anti-Americanism was becoming.

I have been living in Munich for over ten years now, and have to say that while a certain amount of Anti-americanism has also been present here, (mostly in the form of cultural superiority. Does anyone remember the case of that Swiss-American boy arrested in CO a few years ago for sexual harassment, or Claudia Roth defending the two German brothers executed in AZ? Here RTL was the worst channel of all).The form it has now taken is appalling. I had relatives from Tennessee visiting me last March, and I could not take them to see Marienplatz because of the 'peace demonstrations' taking place there, which seemed to me more of an excuse to skip school than to protest, since the crowds would thin out after 2pm, when school would have been out.

I have heard of an American child attending Grundschule (a first or second grader) being asked by his teacher to explain Bush's policy in Iraq. His parents were naturally furious, and complained to the Schuldirektor, and he and the teacher gave enough spin to have made Bill O'Reilly dizzy.

I've had European collegues ask me if I believed that the US government orchestrated 9/11, and been accused of being racist and Islamophobic, simply because I don't deny being American.

I am also, as someone above wrote, a post-9/11 conservative. I was born in NW Indiana (greater Chicagoland), raised a Democrat, and attended an extremely conversative university (Vanderbilt). The conservatives I met there were almost uniformally unpleasant people. After I graduated, I joined my boyfriend in Bavaria, and have been here since 1993. I
Thankfully, a year ago I mananged to get Sky Television, and so have other news sources. But to be fair, if the average German only has access to ARD/ZDF, RTL, and recently, BILD, there is no wonder that he would tend to be Anti-american. But with ever such report I see or read, my dislike for the Democratic party and liberals in general increases.

I stopped watching German television after Stoebele on a political talk show (I don't remember which) shortly after 9/11 called the airline passengers cowards for not fighting the terrorists (since they were only armed with carpet cutters). Thankfully a year ago, I managed to get Sky television and can watch Sky News, and better yet, Fox News, which don't want to see the forces in Afganistan or Iraq fail.

My sister is stationed in Landstuhl, by Kaiserslautern, and she says she doesn't understand the German attitude. The people in her area are dependent on the soldiers' money, but at the same time quite a few scream 'Ami go home'. Perhaps these opponents are not many, but there are very vocal.

Please forgive me if this posting is a bit confused. I have wanted to write for a while, but haven't felt comfortable to do so. Many of the above postings expressed what I have felt, that it was easier to finally add my view.

Pamela, I cited this article on antisemitism and antiamericanism in Europe elsewhere at this site. It is excellent.

http://www.ajc.org/InTheMedia/Publications.asp?did=902&pid=1875

The reports above on this thread are awful and depressing. Germans should be ashamed of themselves for exposing schoolkids to this kind of treatment. That teachers and principals are complicit is even worse. Someone needs to alert the press to whats going on. What do the Germans always say, "wahret den Anfang"?

I guess the Americans have become the Jews of the 21st century, the main difference from the 1930's being that we're armed to the teeth and we'll fight to the last man. Don't tread on me.

To digress a bit, I'd like to let off some steam here about all the swipes at Democrats. First, it is slanderous to accuse people of being unpatriotic simply because they disagree with Bush's prosecution of the war on terror or war in Iraq. But to lump Democrats into the same camp as the anti-american Europeans, well, where I come from them's fightin' words. Get real people, there is no monolithic ideological left in America. The majority of American Democrats are to the right of the Christian Democrats here in Germany. You guys need to spend less time watching Fox TV and listening to Rush Limbaugh. It's not good for your grasp of reality. We are in this boat together. I can assure you that I am not treated any better abroad for being an American who happens to vote mostly Democrat, especially since I usually end up defending Republican presidents even if I would never vote for them. So gimme a break and let up on the Democrats!

This website would do better to stay away from US domestic partisan issues. Sometimes it comes across more as a pro-Bush website than as an anti-bias website. We need to stay on message here. It is too easy for a German reader to dismiss a site as apologist for Bush. Dave, I urge you not to give them that angle of attack.

That said, I agree with Tom Friedman that it would be a good idea for the leading Democratic candidates to come out with a strong statement to the effect that, if elected, they intend to pursue the war on terror very aggressively. We need to stay on message there, too.

What Karl B. said.

http://www.frankfurterrundschau.de/ressorts/nachrichten_und_politik/standpunkte/?cnt=389837

Micha Brumlik, Die dritte totalitäre Bewegung

This is an interesting article. He says the anti-Semitism in the USA is only little smaller than in Europe. He says the real threat is the Islamistic hatred of Jews.

"Unter diesen Umständen erscheint auch Mohammed Mahatirs Rede vom Oktober, in der er die Muslime bezüglich des Palästinakonflikts aufforderte, von Selbstmordattentaten abzulassen und auf die Entwicklung von Waffen, von Bomben und Raketen zu warten, in einem anderen Licht."

"So wäre schon viel gewonnen, wenn man die radikalislamistische Bedrohung hier zu Lande endlich wahrnehmen würde, statt sie mit modernisierungs- und immigrationssoziologischen Floskeln zu verdrängen."

Karl B.,

Your point is well taken. But is the Democratic Party still the same party that it was in the days of FDR, later JFK and then someone like Henry "Scoop" Jackson?

Senator Zell Miller (Georgia) is a Democrat, but how many conservatives like him are left in his party?

On the other hand, the GOP is far from perfect. Bush's deficit spending has gone way beyond what would have been required for the War. It borders on irresponsible.

Unfortunately, the Dems do not look like the model of fiscal probity either. Nor would I believe them if they promised to cut spending.

Barbara W.,

Funny, thinking back to school and college days, I also thought then that conservatives were personally mostly disagreeable.
Now that I am politically conservative myself, I sometimes wonder how I would appear to my younger self.

Tictoc,

What was it that Churchill said? Something about not having a heart if not a young liberal and no brain if not an old conservative? I don't consider myself old, but if Churchill believed this, I am in good company.

Gabi,

Thank you for the link to Brumlik's article. I agree that it is interesting.

Brumlik correctly emphasizes the threat from Islamic antisemitism.

Unfortunately he feels the need to claim a false equivalence -- "so herrscht in dieser Hinsicht zwischen den USA und Europa nicht der geringste Unterschied" -- between anti-Semitism in Europe and the U.S. (He is writing in Frankfurter Rundschau, a paper with a Red/Green clientele, and is himself a politician with the Green party: in other words, he wants to preserve his credentials with his political camp.)

Anyone who has spent time in both the U.S. and Europe knows this is not true. In Germany, the steady drumbeat of biased reporting against Israel is deafening; it is taken as articles of faith that Prime Minister Sharon is the devil incarnate, that Palestinians are pitiable victims of Israeli might, and that Israel must justify its existence every single day (its right to exist is still valid but subject to revocation by the world community at any time). This attitude is not limited to the media but extremely widespread in the general population. Added to that is blatant anti-Jewish speech by German politicians such as Moellemann and Hohmann and anti-Israel articles by people like Norbert Blüm.

In the U.S., on the other hand, the media's reporting on Israel covers a broader spectrum. But more importantly, ordinary Americans do not hesitate to affirm their support for Israel, and the majority are simply comfortable being around Jews, who are seen as no less American than everybody else.

The last 2 years most of the media changed their opinion and spread the idea that israel is responsible for the bad situation of the Palestinians. they don't consider the history and the development how it all started and happened. The same people blame the USA for supporting Israel. Sharon and Bush, the 2 evils. That is their view. So easy - so wrong. But mainstream here.
As my husband already wrote: Germans hate to be rassists but they have no problem with hating Israel and the USA. These are aliens too, or not?

Could you imaging people giving bad names to Fidel Castro, making fun of him or Arafat like they do with Sharon and Bush?

Why are all these people so famous in Germany: Susan Sontag, Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky, Uri Avnery? They all blame the USA and Israel. they don't blame the terrorists. Cowards?! They all wrote books and take this money for their own good life. Alles Könige unter den Einäugigen, die sich im Gleichklang der Massen suhlen.

Gabi, you know what? Sontag, Chomsky, et. al. would not be recognized by 95% of Americans. The intellectual class does not play the same role in the U.S. as it does in Europe. They're well known in Europe because that's where they are given some currency simply by virtue of what they do. That doesn't wash here very well. Here, you actually have to produce something besides gas to get any attention or respect.

My first post here...

Some very interesting comments being made here. I've already learned quite a bit by reading the comments and following the links, and I thank you all. Please allow me to turn the discussion to a bit more of a personal level...

This whole situtation with Germany has been particularly distressing to me. I am from a town called Huntsville in the state of Alabama in the USA. The town owes its present-day existence to a group of German expats who escaped the Nazis and came to the USA in 1945. Specifically, this was the famous Wehner von Braun rocket team which went on to design America's early space launchers up to and including the mighty Saturn 5.

Now let me take you back, in the imagination, to the memories of a young child in the mid-1960s. My father is an engineer employed in the aerospace industry, in one of the companies that sprang up around the Army (now NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center) space center established by the von Braun group in 1950. So are the fathers of most of my playmates. We all live in a suburb of neat little ranch houses that appeared on the northern edge of town, practically overnight, in 1955 to accommodate all the aerospace workers moving to the area. Of said fathers (and mothers too), a considerable proportion are German immigrants, who escaped from Germany and came over either with von Braun's group or before. Many of these talk of friends who are no longer with them, either killed during the war (some for committing the crime of not being zealously Nazi enough, in the eyes of the SS) or trapped behind the Iron Curtain at the end of the war and never heard from again. Some are U.S. Army officers and soldiers who participated in Project Paperclip (the operation that found and sheltered von Braun's group, and then went back into Germany to rescue V-2 parts and engineering drawings). Some are engineers from the Northeast or California, who have moved here to participate in the effort. (Many of these were more or less forcibly transferred by their companies and freely admit that they didn't like it at first.) A considerable portion are Southern boys and girls who were encouraged by their parents to get away from the farms and mill towns and make something of themselves in the modern world. Many of these fought in either WWII or Korea, came back (in some cases leaving significant chunks of themselves in far-flung corners of the world), and then went on to higher education with their tuition paid for by the GI bill. My father is one of these; his generation is the first in his family to attend college.

Now, kids being kids, some who were "different" got picked on, but the problem here is that almost every kid is different. So cliques can't form, because no one knows who should be in them. Furthermore, our parents are setting a lousy example for us in the clique-forming department. At MSFC, Southerners work alongside Northerners and Californian surfer dudes. After 1964, even blacks are allowed into the act; admittedly there are a few grunbles, but no significant problems. Who is setting the example for this? The Germans, who make it a point to be, as they say in Atlanta, "too busy to hate"; among other things they happily work alongside the area's not-inconsiderable population of Jews. (The Jews, incidentally, return the favor by inviting the Germans to synagogue. Some of the Germans convert.)

One of my classmates in the fourth grade is a somewhat pudgy blond-headed guy named Peter. His last name is von Braun. Being kids, it matters not to us that his father is one of the most famous engineers that ever lived. He's just a kid whose father works at the space center, just like all the rest of us. One day his rather influential dad arranges for our class to get a field trip of the space center. In the morning our teachers troop all 35 of us into his tenth-floor office in the MSFC headquarters building. He welcomes us all by name. He knows the names and a few things about all of our parents, ranging from one girl's father who is head of one of the labs, to my father the engineer, to one other kid's father who works in a machine shop. He tells us how proud he is of all of them and how all the work is important.

Then he sends us off with a guide to see the sights. We get to see everything: the big assembly hangars where the Saturn stages are being built, to the test stands where we get to see a live engine test (at a noise level that has most of us covering our ears), to the computer centers that crunch the numbers to design said engines, even to the barge that carries the biggest stages down to the Gulf of Mexico and around the Florida peninsula to Cape Canaveral. Periodically during the tour, von Braun pops in to see how we are doing and offer a bit more detail on what it is that we are looking at.

At the end of the tour we return to his office. He gives each of us a few souveniers and tells us jokes about his "Southern accent", clumsy astronauts, and other inside humor. Then, he tells us a little bit, just a bit, about the war. He tells us how his family became trapped behind the Iron Curtain at the end of the war, and how he has no contact with them in two decades. He tells us just a bit about the Nazis and the terrible things they did. He talks about arriving in Huntsville, and how this town of Americans in a region not particularly noted for tolerance welcomed a group of Germans, fresh off of WWII, with open arms. He even mentions how much nothern Alabama reminds him of the Black Forest region of Germany where he grew up. (Although, he says, it is just a little bit hotter in the summer...)

And that was always my impression of the Germans: people who are serious and rather quiet, yet with social grace and an easy sense of humor. People who are focused and practical, yet willing to dream big dreams. One of those big dreams was space flight, and they made it come true. But I think another of those big dreams was to live in a world where, as a black preacher named after a German church reformer said, people would be judged by the content of their character.

I'm now in the space business myself, writing computer software for flight systems and ground support. Huntsville, AL, is a lot bigger than it was in 1965, and the economy is much more diversified. Even so, NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center, along with its Army-side sister rocket agencies, is still the thing that defines the town's image and perception of itself. In 1950, before von Braun arrived here, Huntsville was a dying mill town, losing population as the cotton mills closed, and probably on its way to becoming a ghost town. I am aware every day that I walk in the footsteps of a group of immigrants who had to flee one form of tyranny, and most of whom never saw their homelands again due to another form of tyranny; and that they (along with people like my father and the Northerners and surfer dudes and "Shalom y'all" Jews and courageous blacks) didn't waste any time sitting around whining about their lot but went on to make a substantial contribution to one of humankind's greatest accomplishments.

That, then, is my impression of the German people. Now I know that one shouldn't generalize about a whole nation based on one group, but you have to admit it's a good generalization. And this is what stings me so about the current situation: it's just so opposite to what I've always thought of Germans. I always thought of them as a dedicated and practical people, above such levels of pettiness and office-politicking and slackness. What did I miss? How long has it been this way? Or is the current impression just another faulty generalization? German culture left its mark here, in our homes (many Bavarian-style houses remain in this area), our cuisine (restraunts with names like Ol' Heidelberg and Cafe Berlin and the Biergarten are revered around town), and most of all, our thought patterns. This stuff that I see in the papers these days, of pacifism and collaberating with evil dictators and the PM playing to the lowest elements of society as a campaign tactic, to me that just isn't German.

Cousin Dave: I remember Huntsville well. My aunt and uncle retired from the Air Force there and I learned to water ski on a lake whose name began with a "G". Gunnersville?

Your fond memories of von Braun notwithstanding, his contributions to the U.S. space program notwithstanding, the man contributed a great deal to the German military arsenal. I think of him along the lines of Edward Teller. Totally amoral, valuing only scientific endeavor wherever it led, without regard for how the results were used.

I think what you have missed is that the Germans you knew were rescued from the worst of the end of the war. They did not live in an occupied country bombed into rubble, surrounded by their conquerors. They never had to watch the films showed daily in Germany of the camps - they had their debriefings and their labs. The Germans you knew were shielded, succored and valued in spite of everything. No wonder they were so good humored.

On a related topic, are you aware of how many German POWs held here in the U.S. returned after repatriation and started new lives here?

Also on a related topic, I happened onto this a few minutes ago:

The United States is generally supposed to maintain efficient means of educating and enlightening public opinion, especially in wartime. A poll in early 1946 showed that 19 per cent of GI's in a German area thought that Germany was justified in starting the war, 22 per cent believed that the Germans were justified in persecuting the Jews, and 51 per cent that Hitler had done Germany "a lot of good" between 1933 and 1939.

That's from John Gunther's Inside U.S.A., which was published in 1947.

Wow! Just when I was periously close to giving up, I’m thrilled to have found a spot with such cogent dialog. Most of what’s out there is hijacked pretty quickly by “trolls” and/or on-their-moral-high-horse types who eventually have bona fide contributors leaving in disgust.

[If you’re curious, page down to the “hero” post on this board:]
http://www.ihatedelphi.com/germanculture/index.php?act=ST&f=3&t=1263&s=0eafccafb79523d8707473fe7eb8b379

I am an eighth-generation German American from the Pennsylvania ‘Dutch’/Amish part of Pennsylvania. Like many of the other posters to this thread, I married a German and after having two kids in the States, decided to live over here for a few years to tune up their bilingualism, fortify my German language skills, and do exactly what Europeans tend to accuse Americans of never doing … which is to immerse oneself in a foreign culture to learn more about how the other 5.7 billion people on the planet live.

My experience has been pretty good so far. While there’s still some element of culture shock in my day-to-day working life (sense of unassailable job entitlement, finding three critical people all on three-week sequential vacations, meaning I can’t sit them all down together for two months), it’s been generally fun. My kids are happy in school, and my wife seems happier with the certainties of an “alles in ordnung” life here for small children rather than the randomness and hypercompetitiveness of the States. My mother commented after a visit that it reminded her a lot of the States in the 50s and early 60s, positively in in its relative safety, sense of togetherness and lack of sprawl, but negtively in its homogeneity and stifling lack of creativity.

Apropos to the thread, in my opinion, the German media generally are complete throwbacks to what U.S. network TV and newspapers were like in the 60s … variety shows, game shows, old westerns and goofy kid shows with live audiences. You turned it on and watched what you got. The news tends to be read by dour-faced people who make Walter Cronkite look like Lenny Bruce … and it tends to be the same across all the various regional networks. The almost-cliché-in-its-thoroughness German documentary form is still alive and well, and one is not shocked see a 90 minute special on Ruhr Valley coal mining in prime time.

That said, there have been moments over the past two years when the influence of the half-baked “’68ers” in the German media have me snapping off the TV in disgust and/or stabbing at the car radio to put on AFN. One was during the run-up to the Iraq war when a Kinder Kanal special show essentially told kids that the U.S. was about to kill and maim thousands of Iraqi children which greatly upset my older child. Another was a show on the Herrenhausen (Deutsche Bank CEO) car bombing in the 1980s which, I swear, tried to make Herrenhausen look like a total bastard because he ran a bank, and painted the Red Army Faction people who killed him as likeable old hippies nostalgic for the days when they could do something meaningful for the “movement” … like kill people. A third was when the very likeable American Ambassador was ambushed on a talk show, forced to try to defend every last element of American politics and society, and was finally bullied into clamming up the way Germans (correctly) do when flustered people (mostly Brits, the most unreconstructed anti-Germans on the planet that I’ve found) pull out the Holocaust card in an argument.

A ‘68er type is the new minister at the local church (with subsidized house and car) where, he’s essentially made it plainly clear that I as an American am unwelcome to his Kumbaya-accompanied diatribes. Despite being pretty middle-of-the-road myself politically, I can’t help but smile when he gets all worked up over “George Booosh.” However, it’s a drag to see attitudes like his devolving the German Protestant church into a literal “amen corner.” The irony that America is supposedly run by religious zealots but Germany is the only place on Earth that forces one to pay mandatory flat-rate church taxes via the government is an irony lost on everyone.

A lot of the behavior one sees in Germany (Hypocracy! Capitalist pigs!) is exactly goes on around countless dinner tables in America once teenage children get long on “social conciousness” but remain short on experience. It’s easy for a sullen teen to stalk off from a political argument, jump into Dad’s car with Dad’s gas and Dad’s insurance graciously provided and drive to the local hangout to bitch about what a bunch of “Fascists” one’s parents are … on Dad’s tab.

Not to stretch the analogy too much, but good parents are patient, not vindictive and refuse to be bated … because they can’t wait until their adolescents have families and responsibilities and bills of their own to pay. As the third largest economy in the world mired in sluggish growth in a failed attempt to create an “everybody’s upper middle class” gleischeit utopia, today’s Germany finds itself subsidizing its n’er-do-well relatives in East Germany, as well as feeling the effects of indirectly subsidizing Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain via the Euro (with Eastern Europe right behind them) while hamstrung to change interest rates on its own. Germany pays 1.5% of GDP for defense, while the U.S. pays something closer to 3-5%, and via Kosovo and Afghanistan is learning that peace costs money. Let’s face it, for all its faults, American democracy has been around since 1787 and German democracy since 1947 (“Old Europe” … ha). The whole place was essentially laid to waste not once but twice in self-inflicted fashion. It had to rebuild while replanting millions of strangers into an inherently xenophobic (yes, even by region) society.

I’ve personally concluded that the society is essentially still in its adolescence. This even extends into the everyday: It coddles children with no school before age six, treats the students to three hour shool days, subsidizes 10-year perpetual student odysseys through university, and then grumbles that they’re not as competitve in the world market as they once were. It resists professionalizing its military to keep it a “volksarmee”, then squawks when it actually gets deployed in the Balkans and Afghanistan and these 10-month jamokes get shot at. It views people who get rich as borderline criminals who must be doing something illegal rather than just being clever or energetic. It was “grounded” like a teen who wrapped the family car around a tree (twice!), and is only now (like Japan) emerging into a world role commensurate with its economic importance. And, yes, sometimes that means becoming more pragmatic than dogmatic.

Thoughts?

GT:
It is getting better! Today I listened to WDR 2 or 5 radio: There will be 3 American Festivals in Germany, in Bonn, Recklinghausen and Duisburg. The moderator said that is really too much. But I think, the normal people are getting up now to stop this Ausländerfeindlichkeit against the USA.

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GT, great post. We could have a good conversation about raising kids in Germany. I've got two myself. We've had no horror stories to report yet at school, but then my kids are very German, right down to their very German family name, and we're in a very open and America-friendly city (I'm not talking about those hick-towns Berlin, Hamburg and Munich either).

Check out die Zeit this week:

http://www.zeit.de/2004/09/Kinder_USA

These are the kinds of articles that are so fair and open towards America that I often find myself looking for areas where they overlook problems. OK, I'm turning into a grumpy old man.

The other report I saw last night on the ARD news about the MOMA exhibit in Berlin sent the overpowering message that something world class from America was there -- the artistic event of the year. I haven't seen Anne Will smile like that in a long time. (I've read bickering reports about US "artistic imperialism" relating to the exhibit at other sources, but the ARD report was shock and awe at its best.) I was in NY this summer and the only consolation for my sweaty train trip to Queens was an incredible Beckmann Exhibit. But that didn't make up for not having seen some of my old and dear friends with whom I like to visit every so often. Time to pack up the kids and go to B-town.

I'm getting cynical in my old age, but the recent frequency of positive reporting over America almost makes me think that there is some sort of orchestrated media campaign to try to undo the damage of the past months. It must be obvious to a lot of people that Germany and France went overboard (I'm not even discussing right or wrong as to Iraq) and that they're poisoning their own social climate. A change of tone won't patch up the substantial differences we have over things like NATO, but it sure will help the atmosphere for those of us who have to survive out "on the economy", as the U.S. soldiers like to say.

The bottom line is that the media plays an important role in shaping people's opinions. The media types don't like to admit that; they always claim that they're only reporting the facts. In homogeneous Germany, there is a real risk of social blindness through lack of balanced news. That's why I hang out at this important site.

I spent about 15 minutes scrolling through the "ihatedelphi" site under German Culture. Funny how a blog on German Culture is so obsessed with the USA. There was hardly anything on the German reform process but daily swipes at the USA. Go figure.

Tom Lehrer (via Norman Geras):

Gather 'round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun,
A man whose allegiance
Is ruled by expedience.
Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown,
"Ha, Nazi, Schmazi," says Wernher von Braun.

Don't say that he's hypocritical,
Say rather that he's apolitical.
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun.

Some have harsh words for this man of renown,
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude,
Like the widows and cripples in old London town,
Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun.

You too may be a big hero,
Once you've learned to count backwards to zero.
"In German oder English I know how to count down,
Und I'm learning Chinese!" says Wernher von Braun.

Gabi,

I don't know whether or not its provenance is Churchillian, but it's fascinating to observe this proverb's divergent permutations. In America, it goes something like:

If you're not a liberal when you're twenty, you haven't got a heart. If you're not a conservative when you're forty, you haven't got any brains.

But in Belgium, it's rather different:

If you're not a leftist revolutionary when you're twenty, you haven't got a heart. If you're not a conservative when you're forty, you haven't got any brains.

Telling, no?

Any site featuring obscure Tom Lehrer song references is more than a little bit of alright by me :-)

Re-reading the Alabama posts got me reminiscing about similarly fond memories of Germans in postwar America. Our next door neighbor to my parents' "starter home" was a German POW (he fought on the Eastern Front as a motorcyclist) who married one of the nurses from the POW camp and ended up staying. He never talked about the war, but once a year (much to his wife's humorous protestations) he'd break out his Wehrmacht uniform to try it on and make sure he wasn't getting too fat. He was in his early 20s when the war ended, but it's hard for me to believe in retrospect that at the time of my childhood he would have been in his 40s.

He maintained his "German-ness" through his whole life: Besides a thick accent he could never quite kick, he slowly bought up the land adjoining his suburban tract house and within a few years had a veritable farmette complete with sheep, a small vineyard and a respectable truck garden. He would return to visit relatives in Germany, and one time came back with a wooden cutout of a Hofbrauhaus beer maiden for his finished "ratskeller" that at the time I thought was about the neatest thing I'd ever seen. He was also relaxed about us "kinder" and our misbehavior; once I set up an archery target, stupidly placing a backstop strawbale sideways. I shot arrow number one, and it sliced clean through the target and the haybale on its way through his living room window! He came out waggling it like a swagger stick and said (smiling) "Next time aim it a bit lower if you're trying to get me :-)"

Ironically enough, while all the Americans in the neighborhood were filling the driveways with VW bugs, busses and fastbacks, his pin-neat garage (the first I'd ever seen with battleship gray painted floors like where they work on F1 cars)always had exclusively 1960s American muscle cars ("Ami Schlitten" oder "Ami Eisen").

Good times.

Side note to Karl B.: If I'm reading between the lines properly, we both live in the area of a certain "small city at the end of a very long runway." Ditto on my kids' names, compounded by my kids' parental-jealousy-provoking ability to "pass" in both cultures with unaccented, grammatically perfect German and English.

Guess I have "newbie disease" with wanting to compulsively post here ... I promise to cease and desist and get back on message ASAP.

BUT ... seeing all of the Michael Moore references, I just had to briefly share my Michael Moore experiences. He lives right up West End Avenue from where I had an apartment in New York pre-Germany, and I can personally vouch for the fact this "champion of the common man" takes a limo to work each day and sends his kids to private school. Another time, an assistant of mine was at an event where he spoke, and afterward he was outside the theatre being congratulated by a throng of teenage fans with the studied "trustafarian" grunginess (where *do* they get those knit hats?) achievable only with the backing of an upper middle class American upbringing. There was a black limo idling by the curb and one of the kids said "that isn't yours, man?" and MM did an "Aw, shucks, no, I take the subway." As the throng rolled out of eyeshot, MM did a cartoon double-take, threw open the door and screetched off for the Upper West Side.

My take on this is that the guy is reassuringly "schlubby" enough (hideously overweight, baseball hat) that he has "street cred" as a representative American everyman, but he spouts out a reassuringly European message that the U.S. is really a Potemtkin Village facade on abject poverty. I remember from my time in New York and San Francisco that people without cars or access to supermarkets, paying $2,500 per month rents and confiscatory 50% tax rates liked to look down on the "flyovers" in the rest of America as crypto-fascist religious-fanatic dupes ... at best misguided and at worst homicidal maniacs (Columbine, anyone?). Sound familiar?

The fact that this guy is as sucessful as he is in Europe brings to mind that moment in "This Is Spinal Tap" where the failing rock band takes solace in the fact that "they're really big in Japan." Or Jerry Lewis in France.

Go figure.

Back to on-topic blogging (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan):

http://www.andrewsullivan.com/index.php?switch=black_white&dish_inc=dish_blog.html

http://www.eursoc.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/313/Odd_Man_Out.html

Thursday, February 19, 2004

FRANCE IN ISOLATION: "The difference is that many other nations, America included, want to like Germany. The same cannot be said of France under Chirac." Eurosoc analyzes France's continued slide in influence in Europe. Germany now wants Britain at the big table. The upshot of the Iraq war may well be a realignment of internal European power - to America'a advantage. Credit: Bush/Blair.
- 12:01:44 PM

I noticed that our gracious host Herr Kaspar had some Uebersetzung difficulty on his main blog with my invocation of the colloquial American term "jamokes". For the good of the order:

http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-jam1.htm

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