(By Ray D.)
Erik S. of ¡No Pasarán!, an outstanding French blog, left us a brilliant comment explaining why media critical bloggers have sprung up in droves throughout Europe over the past two years and why more and more bloggers are emerging to join their ranks with each passing day. He puts his finger on the fundamental prejudice and imbalance in European society and media which has been passively accepted by so many for so long now.
Just to place it in context, Erik's comment was posted as a response to another outstanding comment we posted a few days ago by Tyranno which can be viewed here. Here is what Erik had to say:
Having lived in Paris for over 10 years, I would say that, if anything, the 90-95% figure is too small. I mention this, because if you changed the word "German/Germany" to "French/France", Tyranno's words would ring just as true. Any discussion on world events will inevitably — and I do mean inevitably — lead to the statement of the "fact" that Americans are treacherous, and Europeans are ever so lucides. (That is what caused me to found this organization.) As for why people like myself have opened blogs about this, it is because of something called injustice. I do not like injustice. I do not like the injustice of a man who claims he is against war only going out to protest when the U.S. military is involved. I do not like the injustice of a woman who claims she is against the death penalty but willfully ignores China's putting to death as many as 25 times the number of people put to death in America each year. I do not like the injustice of an intellectual/reporter claiming to be indpendent and interested in all cases of government perfidy, and deliberately and consistently ignoring, and white-washing, those of anybody but Uncle Sam, and primarily those of his own government. I do not like the injustice of someone weeping about the fate of prisoners in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib and ignoring that of the men and women who had hands and tongues cut off, were forced to eat the flesh of their spouses' arms, and whose bodies litter the fields of Iraq; ignoring, in effect, the opinion of the majority of people in Iraq. If someone said that all blacks were simple-minded and incapable of thinking clearly, there would be an uproar, and rightly so. If someone said all Slavs were treacherous and war-mongers, there would be an uproar, and rightly so. Such opinions would not only be called unjust and ignorant, they would be called despicable. And rightly so.
But say the same about Americans, in public or among friends, and nobody thinks of protesting. Well, actually, yes, there are a few of us, and people like us are called "biased" by the likes of Jo who snicker and ask if we don't have more important things to worry about.
Now, here's the fun fact. When you mention this in Europe, some Europeans will guffaw and say, "Oh, but in the case of the Americans, it happens to be the truth!" (Of course, they forget that their own ancestors said the exact same thing about the blacks/Slavs/etc: it just happened to "be the truth", too.) Whatever the case may be, I have found what David and Tyranno have also uncovered: that a bit of investigation turns up the fact that Americans are perhaps not as simple-minded as the Europeans would like to think, and that the Europeans are perhaps not as avant-garde-thinking as they would like to believe. But because this "opinion" is inherently self-serving, unless some people say this (and it will be resisted as being ridiculously out-of-hand), no voices will be raised in Europe at all.
PS: I have translated part of Tyranno's post into French.
Rest assured, more and more people are "raising their voices" and saying what needs to be said. It is the same whether you are in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, London or anywhere else on the European continent. Transatlantic relations will never again flourish unless we confront the bias and resentments propogated on a mass scale by a small media elite. We cannot allow the ugly, self-serving prejudice that Erik so eloquently describes to continue unchecked around us. That is why we blog.
Here is another superb, must-see comment from a reader who calls himself "lost one":
My best friend is a young student at the University of Cologne, and has a tendency to repeat back things that sound a lot like propaganda to me (I am an American). In fact, we often fight about politics, because he thinks that -I- am the one that is a mindless victim of propaganda, even though I am actually struggling over who to vote for in this election and spend a lot of time thinking about these things. Last night he announced that he was going to see Farenheit 9/11. I tried to get him to understand that even people that hate Bush think the movie is a load of bull, but he kept parroting the "it's not as bad as the lies Bush told the American people" meme. The difficult thing is that he is really quite smart and openminded and wise about many things...just not this.
I'm going to try sending him the links of Der Spiegel articles you posted (I don't read enoough German to know for sure they are critical of the movie, so I am taking your word for it :) With luck, he'll at least be thinking about these things before he lays down his Euros (hard earned money that Moore has no right to, IMO) to watch that movie.
It's not that I don't understand how people can have questions about Bush. I have them myself. But this smug self assurance is what puzzles and hurts me. It's almost a religous kind of fervor, a faith that cannot be penetrated with opposing facts. The UN and the EU are the saviors, and Bush is Satan. Bush can't possibly even be a well meaning person who might have made tragic mistakes. Meanwhile, the UN food for oil scandals aren't as bad as the Iraq war, so we don't even have to think about those things. How can intelligent, good hearted people be like this? And I know they are intelligent, good hearted people. I don't think all Germans are stupid, or hate spewing Nazis. But I just don't understand it. (emphasis ours)
Maybe one of the German posters here who are not entirely unsympathetic towards Americans and Bush supporters could give me a little advice on how to talk to my friend, and how to act when I visit Cologne this October (which I confess being a huge mistake on my part when I booked the tickets, but they are paid for, so I think I kind of have to go). Should I just pretend to be an unabashed supporter of Kerry/Edwards? Say that Bush is worse than Hitler, and that the Iraq war was only about oil? Or is it okay in German society to say that you don't like to talk about politics?
Or should I just eat the cost of the tickets?
Outstanding stuff. We hope you speak your mind and don't feel so intimidated that you think you have to give-in to the opinions of the majority. Thank you all for your input.