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As an American who's been living in Leipzig for 2 years now, all I can say is "das stimmt"!

While many Germans I've talked with may not "personally" agree with everything the German media spews out against America, the damage is already done, since it has somehow built a common emotional response to the US Government that seems to be shared almost universally here. When pressed, most of the people I speak with do not really know much at all about it, and I have actually yet to meet someone who I would describe as "anti-American" - but almost everyone just takes as fact that President Bush is evil and the war in Iraq is just about oil, with virtually no deeper understanding of the situations.

I think this whole issue is a symptom of being the "biggest kid on the block", in terms of global mindspace. I'm always slightly embarrassed at the intense coverage on the German news of every little thing that happens in the USA.

It also feels like an attempt by a "younger sibling" to exert independence from an older brother (i.e., the Germany that the USA had "under its wing" during the Cold War)

Sometimes, though, I just wish I weren't from Texas. As soon as someone ask me where I'm from, it invariably immediately launches into a misinformed interrogation about my political views vis a vis President Bush. *sigh*

I also doubt that the media bias is somehow intentional - vague anti-Americanism plays on that shared emotional response, and covers of Stern or Der Spiegel like any of the fine examples from the sidebar on the right sell copies.

I think the same thing happens in the USA; the main difference is that there you have both sides of any issue selling their own biased version.

For instance, I'm not a big fan of most of the Michael Moore documentaries, but I am very glad he's there, making his extremely biased (and sometimes childish) films in a context where you can watch them back to back with an extremely biased film from the other side, and maybe somehow come up with some sort of balanced opinion in the middle.

Unfortunately, there is no other side in Europe (at least in popular culture), and so many Europeans (at least the vast majority of those that I've spoken with) are left with an extremely slanted view of American life.

Hi -

Great post, Mr. Duffy!

I've been living in Germany for 22 of the last 26 years (six years, then four back in the US, and have been here since). I did my advanced degree in Germany, in German, in political science as well.

German anti-Americanism is a curious thing. It has roots in German romanticism, German literature and in the virulent hatred of the German nobility to the French revolution, which they saw as being instigated by the American revolution. Deep, deep historical roots.

What you also must understand is the financing of anti-Americanism in West Germany during the cold war by the KGB and by its partners in the Warsaw Pact, especially the East Germans. It wasn't merely anything like paying for pamphlets or the like - they did that plenty - but more fundamentally it was the acquisition and financing of agents of influence, as well as the financing of virtually all left-wing student groups. The virulence of anti-Americanism is something that the newspaper editors of today learned at the breast of their marxist-leninist masters of yesteryear, and don't think for a moment that today's journalists weren't radical leftists during their formative years (besides, it was *the* best way to meet babes/studs when you first came to the University. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise).

The problem, of course, is that they stayed that way. I've run into it outside of universities as well: the falsehoods and outright lies are there as well, promulgated by the German left in the SPD, Greens and whatever fringes there are out there. I've heard absurdities after absurdities (don't go to the US on vacation, the cops will shoot you if you have a broken tail light; don't go to study in the US, you could break a law without knowing it and you'll end up 20 years in jail; don't go to Harlem, the blacks will kill after raping, they do that because the whites won't let them earn money) from people who, when confronted, insist against all reason that their perception of the world is the only possible one.

Changing that isn't trivial: you've got literally decades of work ahead of you. My daughter once came home in tears because her teacher made fun of Americans (Amis: how I've grown to loathe that word, and I often ask Germans if I can then call them "Krauts"), ignoring the fact that she had one in her class. I made an appointment and confronted her with what she had done, and she was surprised: she hadn't thought about it at all, and didn't realize that she was not merely being insulting to my daughter, but was influencing an entire class of kids as well.

Didn't help much. I think my mistake was to have done it in private, rather than in a general teacher-parent conference in public. That'd been a more effective way, but then again, I'm too civilized to behave like a boor.

The only way to deal with this sort of decades-long indoctrination is to confront it and show publically the absurdity of what is being said; humiliating editors publically is harsh, but would go a long way.

John

kennon,

Would you 3 or 4 examples of films you consider to from the other side that are as bias ad Moore's/

Thank you

In a comparison of the historical sins of Germans and Americans, the common comparison is that of Nazism versus everything Americans have ever done, even as colonists just stepping off the Mayflower (and some things we haven't). Unfair comparison. The Germans started two world wars, gave birth to Nazism and the Holocaust (with a little help from their friends), indirectly gave rise to nuclear power and thus proliferation through the persistent fear, probably well-founded, that the Germans were preparing a "secret weapon" during WWII (although the entire question of Heisenberg is complex and ambiguous), and contributed greatly to the Cold War through East Germany. And that isn't even an exhaustive catalog of what they've done, since I, as opposed to the Germans, do not wake up every morning seeking their faults in history books or in the media.
Germans (and Europeans as a whole) should get a grip here. They accuse us of being ignorant of history. Leave Nazism and WWII alone, for the sake of argument. Hell, don't even take the Great War as a whole as a comparison. Just take Verdun and the Somme. Just take the Somme. About a million casualties in three days. I believe the first day of the battle of the Somme is a record for single-day casualties. Yes, European friends, get a grip on reality.

Correction to my above post. Don't know the exact time frame of the casualties figure for the Somme, which lasted about five months. The point remains.

well in fact there are several anti-Moore documentaries out there - exposes of his propaganda

And of course if you are an informed person you will have seen them

Now back to reality - Moores vision of AmeriKKKa was lauded at Cannes as the BEST PICTURE ( not documentary mind you ) - and seen by many millions

It was big hit in Europe

And who see's the other anti-Moore film...hardly anyone

You see - its not enough that there are two versions of the facts out there...the blunt reality is that most Germans only see one side of the story


And this is why Euro's are always harping on Fox news as an example of Bias

Even if Fox was just a right wing propaganda organ, which it is not, it would still prove that there is a variety of viewpoints in the US media - and not the lockstep one story you get in Europe

PM.

Name 3.

Thanks

There you go, Joe, if there are, they aren't getting the play/celebration.

There is, tho, a movie about FoxNews that was used as a fundraiser. I don't seem to recall any sort of movies about ABC/NBC/SEEBS/CNN/MSNBC.

---

Ami means friend in french, no?

How sweet to call us that! You could really have some fun w/that - so refreshing to call me friend, you're so unlike the usual Krauts I meet!

And anyone how harps on FoxNews doesn't understand demos. Only over 1 million people a day watch it, there's 300 million of us, do the math.

Let's get to brass tacks - when was Germany ever our "friend" much less "good friend and historic ally?"

We defeated them 2x in the last century.

Whooooohooooooo - this should start some fun, via No Pasaran:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200702010002

O'REILLY: People are going to be rounded up, and they shouldn't be. This is what happens in a war.

But Angela Merkel's supposed to be a friend -- the chancellor of Germany -- is supposed to be a friend of the USA. Do you think this was some overzealous left-wing prosecutor doing this?

SCHEUER: Well, that's what it turned out to be in Italy. I'm not sure what the game plan is in Germany, sir. I don't -- I really don't know that much about German politics.

But I think, at the end of the day, the duplicity of the Germans will come through. Most of the Europeans are rather duplicitous. They're more than willing to take the information the CIA has gathered from these people to protect their countries, but they're not willing to avoid playing politics with the career of CIA officers who risk their lives.

--

Typical Euro-freeriders.

Thanks for your post, Mr. Duffy.

The sarcastic caption of the propaganda poster reads: "De U.S.A. zullen de Europeesche Kultuur von den andergang redden" ("The USA is supposed to save European culture from destruction").

How ironic, because the USA in fact did.

You'd think that even back then, in the midst of war, Europeans would have seen the poster for what is, a sick document of bigoted hatred. But many did not and many still would not.

The social pathology that gave birth to the Nazi movement did not end with World War II. Anti-Americanism has become not just respectable in wide circles of German society, but a key part of some Germans' identity. Whether neo-Nazi, left-wing SPD, fundi Green, or Bavarian Blut-und-Boden conservative, the politics may change but the underlying malice and ressentiment are the same.

That said, I wouldn't judge the Germans (or the Canadians or other nations) too harshly for not sending troops to Iraq.

I detest Schroeder for his populist exploitation of anti-American sentiment, French and German fancy footwork at the U.N., one-sided criticism of American foreign policy while passing over Saddam's crimes in silence--many of the things discussed here. And why shouldn't German intelligence have passed on information to the U.S. that could have saved thousands of Iraqi and American lives?

But the Iraq war, in its conception and implementation, has been fought more on the basis of illusion than reality. At this writing, and may I be proven wrong, it looks like its conclusion, like Vietnam, will be ambiguous at best.

Paul - the Germans are constrained by their surrender agreement.

A very good article. Thanks for that. Unfortunately, I'm having difficulties myself to understand my compatriots. It's not only Anti-Americanism, but a whole ideology that's ruining not only our relations with our friends, but also (old) Europe as a whole.

"anti-Americanism is a curious thing. It has roots in German romanticism, German literature and in the virulent hatred of the German nobility to the French revolution, which they saw as being instigated by the American revolution. Deep, deep historical roots."

I really learned something new from this comment by 'John'.

Another, and similar, important historical fact is that so many democratically minded Germans emigrated to America after the European counter-revolutions of the early 19th century. Parents tend to educate children in heir own intellectual image; thus this emigration depleted what should have been Germany's normal democratic heritage.

John's other comments were also very useful. I would disagree on only one point. He says: "The only way to deal with this sort of decades-long indoctrination is to confront it and show publically the absurdity of what is being said; humiliating editors publically is harsh, but would go a long way." My experience suggests that editors (and scribblers in general} are un-humiliate-able.

Well there´s still the option to check the political declarations of the Nazis on international relations, and look who might agree with them.

"... Bono (V2)..." ROBL

When I lived in Germany, I tried using humor to pop the bubbles of the pompous, self-righteous, know-it-alls. I used to tell them I've heard all of that anti-American crap already, in the States. Then asked why they even have to import their Anti-Americanism?

Taking a page from Christ's book, let's try returning hate with love. Here's a link to a pic of Frankenmuth, Michigan, which attracts a million plus visitors a year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bavarian_Inn.jpg
This is how the Amis learn about Germany, that and Oktoberfest. The less Americans know the truth, the better for Germany.

Sagredo, you can read more here.
A Genealogy of Anti-Americanism
The poet Nikolaus Lenau, sometimes referred to as the "German Byron," provided the classic summary of the anti-American thought of the romantics: "With the expression Bodenlosigkeit [rootlessness] I think I am able to indicate the general character of all American institutions; what we call Fatherland is here only a property insurance scheme." In other words, there was no real community in America, no real volk. America's culture "had in no sense come up organically from within." There was only a dull materialism: "The American knows nothing; he seeks nothing but money; he has no ideas." Then came Lenau's haunting image, reminiscent of Pauw's picture of America: "the true land of the end, the outer edge of man."

This piece is a precis of his book, Reconstructing America: The Symbol of America in Modern Thought .

It is the best thing you will ever read on the genesis and evolution of anti-Americanism.

And may I say to whoever thought up the idea for bookmarks when designing a browser, Yahweh will bless you.

Actually, I just read Scheuer's book on Al-Qaeda and he makes it quite clear that he has no illusions about Europe's base anti-Americanism.

Pamela-

Thanks for the reference to A Genealogy of Anti-Americanism. A terrific article. I have put the book on my Amazon shopping list.
The ideas discussed in the article lie at the very basis of the problems to which medienkritik is devoted.

The author assumes, however, that this visceral and deeply rooted disease (transmitted by Europe most notably to the Japanese racial militarists and to the precursors of our modern Islamofascists prior to WW2) can be cured if we all--presumably the well-educated people--just reason together, think clearly, etc., etc. I feel certain that this is impossible. Just read the history of anti-Americanism as outlined in this article--it is all the product of the most highly educated classes.

What can and will put an end to this disease is modern technology, i.e. the internet, blogs like this one, and so on. When all peoples can communicate directly, and obtain direct unbiased news about each other--then the ideals of American Democracy (social, cultural as well as political) will be irresistable and become truly irreversible, and universal.

@Sagredo
I feel certain that this is impossible

I heartily agree. A man cannot be reasoned out of what he was never reasoned into.

But all pathologies have a function and my hypothesis is that the function of anti-Americanism is to support a particular self-identity. I haven't worked it out more thoroughly than that but I do continue to work on it.

When all peoples can communicate directly, and obtain direct unbiased news about each other--then the ideals of American Democracy (social, cultural as well as political) will be irresistable and become truly irreversible, and universal.

Oh dear.

In the book you will read about some Americans in France, one of whom was Thomas Jefferson, noted for his physical stature. They were all invited to dinner at some muckity-mucks place. Sometime during the meal, one of the French started in on the degeneracy bit - everything from the New World is smaller, not as developed, blah blah blah. The Americans invited everyone at the table to stand which they did. All the Americans were taller.

Now don't you think that would have been notice BEFORE they sat down? They had in their possession 'direct and unbiased' information but it made no impact on their thinking - until they were directly challenged

I always have to smile when Germans bring up FOX NEWS. I have found most have never watched FOX NEWS. Those who actually have watched have never done a comparison of coverage of the same story between say CNN and FOX or ABC and FOX. The contrast between CNNI and FOX is even greater. It is difficult at times to realize they are reporting the same story.

When these comments are made about the bias of FOX NEWS, I ask myself bias against whom? The Germans? The Europeans? I don’ think so. In fact, I dare say in a normal news cycle there are few if any reports about Germany.

If there is a bias at FOX NEWS, that bias is America and Americans are not the evil Germans have come to believe. These same Germans would like me to believe their own media does not have a positive bias toward Germany.

One would think there are sufficient problems in Germany to warrant the attention of Germans but this seems is not true. America becomes a great distraction for their own feeling of self-hater and self-fears. It is an emotional reaction to the shortcomings of the German soul.

Today a German can best be defined when it comes to America as the perfect combination of arrogance and ignorance.

Therefore I have to agree with the conclusions of Benjamin Duffy the criticism of FOX NEWS is nothing more than an attempt to justify their own bias. This effort is consistent with their efforts to justify their own history and their own actions.

I said "American Democracy (social, cultural as well as political) will be irresistable and become truly irreversible, and universal." to which Pamela responded:"Oh dear."

Well, I can understands that reaction. As phrased, without explanation, my words sound rather aggressively triumphalistic. But I certainly do not mean that everything that typifies America (truly typifies, not the malicious caricature of anti-Americanism) will be 'a good thing' to spread uniformly around the world. American culture is, with some notable exceptions, vulgar--in all senses of the word, good and bad. It is the culture of the masses--the fabled 'common man'. And this in large part what cultured people fear about it.

European societies are controlled by their elites, who 'know best' and know they 'are the best'. In the US this is not the case. Consider for example that the country has been politically center-right for many decades even as the overwhelming number of academics, artists,...intelligentzia, opinion leaders of all stripes, (all the 'good' people who know they are on 'the side of the angels') have been lefties. European leftists love to interpret this as due to the evil secret machinations of the capitalists.

In any case, American style Democracy (social, cultural as well as political) is still as revolutionary as it was 250 years ago; still as threatening to the world's elites. They hate and fear it--the true triumph of the common man. We can only pray that eventually, common taste will not triumph uniformly, the vulgar will not be uniformly vulgar in the negative sense of the word. I would hate to think of a world in which German Lieder and French Art Song have been completely eradicated by rock and rap music.

Sagredo, my 'oh dear' was actually about this portion of your comment:
When all peoples can communicate directly, and obtain direct unbiased news about each other--

Several times I have posited on this blog that the European history of class from feudal hierarchies onward are very determanative in the scorn Europeans feel compelled to direct toward Americans.

But I have no time to elaborate on that now. My sister is about to arrive.

*sigh*

I swear my parents adopted that woman.

Sagredo, et. al., I suggest we continue this conversation on the Anti-Americanism: Essential for European Identity thread.

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