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Lewis: The German neurosis isn't like that. They're not saying, "we like this about America, but we don't like that."

Mr. Lewis' comments were *so* my experience in Germany, while living there for 15 yrs. It feels like a relief to hear someone else say it too. Especially the part above where they never say 'we like this, we don't like that'. They NEVER like anything.....ever. That shows me that there's something psychologically wrong. I did, ONCE, have a German man approach me and say to me, I know what they all say about your country, but both you and I know that is completely exaggerated and not true. I wanted to break down and cry.

The American Thinker article is exactly right. I find it most troubling that global media (including the US) has fallen to such low levels. An honest media is one of the cornerstones to an honest and successful democracy. An honest media is intended to keep our governments on an honorable path and report otherwise to "we the people". When media becomes an agenda driven propoganda machine; then, democracy is trully at risk.

Most people want the facts. The facts only. They are able to reach the truth from that. Agnedas disquised as news are confusing and easily deceptive (whether knowingly or unknowingly).

I am glad to see this blog mentioned. Blogs are the only thing keeping an eye on the Main Stream Media. Without them.........we'd have no truth at all.

Germans just can't let go of us in their collective minds

This is definitely true.

They are hooked on anti-Americanism, and they can't turn it off.

I believe some are indeed hooked on anti-Americanism, while most "only" ingurgitate this anti-Americanism without much thought.

They can't just stop buying Der Spiegel, with its repetetive anti-American slander campaigns.

Some can't, indeed, but I believe that most people read Spiegel & Co without much critical thought, simply because it's "big", it exists, it's "there" and everyone knows about it. I know educated, intelligent people who read Spiegel daily and consider it a reliable source of information.

However, no matter why people read those rags, anti-Americanism or simply intellectual laziness, the result is always the same: a totally distorted view of America which leaves them unprepared to objectively judge America's actions.

Personally I have seen virulent anti-Americanism in only a few Germans, I would say 5-10% of the Germans I met. OTOH, about 90% of the Germans I met had some sort of negative preconceived opinions about America and Americans.The relative minority of hard-core anti-Americans, overproportionately represented in the media and education, has managed to color the view of most of the people.

The question is how did they manage to do this? You can not influence such a large mass of people without the passive participation of the mass, without some sort of psychological "pre-existing conditions" (I guess this health insurance term is quite appropriate here).

"American Thinker" is an extreme rightwing publication. It shouldn't be taken too seriously in my opinion.

Some examples:

- "German Organs of Propaganda"

- "1. The Statue of Liberty with a death's head instead of the Romantic goddess of liberty."
Wich which right does the author dismiss this as "anti-american" without further proof? This image can as well express sadness about the fact that great american values are twisted and betrayed by some people - which is no anti-americanism.

- "American Leftist nutroots "

- "They can't just stop buying Der Spiegel, with its repetetive anti-American slander campaigns."

I don't buy Spiegel, and most of the people I know don't, either.

- "Schroeder blatantly lied about the German economy and still got reelected, by comparing George W. Bush to ... (Yes. Right.)"

No, not right. Schroeder never made such a comparison.

I could go on - this "article" is crap from beginning to end - I cannot believe that some sensible and intelligent readers here like such stuff. isn't this blog about balanced and outweighed information?

This article makes me sad because it squares very well with my experiences over 10 years in Germany. In Germany I have made wonderful friends but also experienced sheer hatred. During the Schroeder campaign of 2002 I almost thought the SPD-Greens would make Americans start wearing white stars or something - it was surreal.

I can't remember more than 2-3 examples of anyone ever telling that they liked something about my country but hundreds (if not thousands) of instances where they had something unkind or snide to say. It reached a point where I decided to leave for France - where I found the level of anti-Americanism 50% less than in Germany.

It saddens me that a people with so much potential for good, the Germans, are mired in a psychological teufelskreis in which they must denigrate us to make themselves feel good. It especially saddens me because we were the first to forgive Germany for the sins of the Nazi era and took their hand as a friend (well before France, UK, Holland, Belgium, Russians, Czechs, etc). I hope Germany can overcome this malady soon.

"_Judging by Davids medienkritik_, _the Germans_ just can't let go of us in their collective minds. They are hooked on anti-Americanism, and they can't turn it off."

Voila. Doesn't this article remind you of the discussions about the impact of this site we had about half a year ago? The distorted picture it might create among people? Why it thus probably would be better to cater to _German_ readers, showing them how biased some of the media indeed is, and to educate them?

Of course the article is too general. I have had plenty of people speak to me about how much they like this (Hollywood flicks, vacations in Florida, NYC, Nike, whatever) and hate that (US foreign policy, the CIA, GWB, whatever). Some of them were well-informed, others not. Some were honest, others not. Some were unbiased, others not. Caricatures similar to the SPIEGEL covers appear in respected US newspapers. And if you read Handelsblatt, Tagesspiegel oder Die Welt, anti-Americanism in other newspapers is regularly exposed and criticized. For Christ's sake, Alan Posener is freaking "Kommentarchef" of Die Welt. How is that for "hooked on anti-Americanism?"

Whenever I meet anti-American sentiment over here (yes, it exists and is utterly stupid, but guess what, it unfortunately exists in pretty much every country of the world. Not a phenomenon restricted to this "area "between the lowlands and Poland"), I directly address it. I am active in a number of German-American clubs, and we have lots of public events which are well-attended. Please forgive me for saying this, but when I read stuff like this article, I really once again get the impression that your website, however well-meant, probably does almost as much damage as it does good.

I wish I could point you to where you could get a book I've been working on for the better part of a year: Chesterton on War: Militarism, Pacifism, Racism and the German Heresy. It's a collection of what G. K. Chesterton wrote on those topics for the Illustrated London News while he was their columnist from 1905 to 1936. It's virtually complete. All that's left is a chapter describing his attacks on "Hitlerism" between 1931 and his death in 1936.

Chesterton was present at what might be called "the Birth of the Modern." Many of today's fashionable ideas were born as political movements in London before the Great War by people he knew personally. He disagreed with those ideas when they were as fresh and new as the morning breeze, and what he had to say against them has become even more relevant now that they've been turned into stale dogmas. It was Chesteron who warned repeatedly that, if something was not done to change how Germans think, the Great War would be followed within thirty years by another and yet more horrible war. In the early 1930s, he even predicted that it would break out over a border dispute with Poland.

Chesterton believed that the best way to ensure peace was to encourage a healthy 'my little country' patriotism that stood midway between "Jingoism" and "Cosmopolitanism." A man should to love his country as he ought to love his wife, in such a way that he appreciates and understands why other men love their wives. He warned that depriving people of that healthy love for their nation in order to create some transnational institution that will end war, as many in the European elite wanted to do, just wouldn't work. It would create either an excessive reaction like the "Germany heresy" or an indifference to those in other countries that leaves nations unprepared to face down aggressors. In an article at the end of 1910, he stressed the indifference:

"And it is exactly because this class has, in the modern world, been so strangely cut off from the collective sympathies and loyalties of the race that they can do nothing whatever for the cause of peace, with all their conferences and courts of arbitration, and donations and plutocratic pomposity. You cannot make men enthusiastic for the mere negative idea of peace; it is not an inspiring thing. You might make them enthusiastic for some positive bond or quality that bound them to others and made their enemies their friends. You may get Tommy to love Jimmy; you cannot get Tommy to love the mere fact that he is not quarrelling with Jimmy. So it would be far easier to make an Englishman love Germany than to make him love peace with Germany. Germany is a lovable thing; peace is not. Germany is a positive thing; one can like its beer, admire its music, love its children, with their charming elf-tales and elf-customs, appreciate the beaming ceremony of its manners, and even (with a brave effort), tolerate the sound of its language. But in the mere image of a still and weaponless Europe there is nothing that men will ever love, either as they can love another country or as they can love their own."

If he were with us today, I suspect Chesterton would suggest that the EU elite is getting it all wrong. Unable to create a love for something as vague as a "weaponless Europe" and unwilling to accept a healthy and independent nationalism, they're turning to hatred as a unifier. All Europe is to be united in a hatred of the U.S. and Israel much as Germany, which had its own problems with national integration, became artificially united around anti-Semitism.

I've read that Churchill almost met Hitler on a visit to 1932 Munich. What made Hitler break their appointment was a message Churchill sent him through a third party, "Anti-Semitism is a good starter but a bad finisher"--meaning you can get something started politically with a message of hatred, but you can't carry it to completion.

European anti-Americanism is a "good starter"--it distracts the European people from own internal problems with a stagnant economy and the failure to integrate Muslims into their cultures. But it's a "poor finisher." Wherever it leads, it doesn't lead to a healthy Europe or to a Europe that is contributing to a better world.

--Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

Tibor,

you've made an excellent point.

Personally I'm a bit disappointed with this blog. I've been following it for quite some time now, and, forgive me if this might sound harsh, how is it different from those publications it criticizes? It is directed at american readers and it's topic is Germany. It picks out single details and incidences and, based on that, creates a "big picture" which creates a biased impression. Exactly what "Spiegel" is doing (sometimes).

I found the intentions of this website noble, but, sorry if it sounds harsh, but it is my impression, that it has turned into a personal hate campaign, because the authors are disappointed with the way things (world politics) are going. Contrary to the beginning, where I found some very inspiring and refreshingly different points of view here. I sincerely hope that it gets back to the original spirit.

"'American Thinker' is an extreme rightwing publication. It shouldn't be taken too seriously in my opinion."

"I found the intentions of this website noble, but, sorry if it sounds harsh, but it is my impression, that it has turned into a personal hate campaign,..."

You knew this was coming, didn't you? They can't refute, so they demonize.

It does appear to be a neurosis. The headlines of Der Spiegel seem to project the magazine editors' own insecurities about themselves and Germany's past. Perhaps Germans feel better about themselves and Germany's past by painting Americans and their history as something worse.

@ tibor

I have to call you on this:

"Caricatures similar to the SPIEGEL covers appear in respected US newspapers."

So can you point to a major, well-respected US magazine that has repeatedly published the sorts of covers SPIEGEL (or Stern) does? When DaimlerChrysler decided to fire over 10,000 US workers, I was waiting to see magazine covers with a German boot crushing American workers (as we saw with Stern when GM fired Opel workers). But it didn't happen. Trying to create a comparison between US and German media in that respect simply robs you of your credibility. A few New York Post "weasels" covers from years ago doesn't balance things out. If anything, the US media is far more guilty of ignoring Europe than bashing it. We have to face the facts as they are.

One point where the critics have it right: I can't remember Schroeder comparing Bush to Hitler (which Lewis seems to imply.) But one of Schroeder's top ministers was let go for doing so shortly before a major election. Schroeder's people have also exploited photos of dead American soldiers for their election posters. Lewis could have mentioned that instead and been more on the money.

@ Matz

You write:

"Personally I'm a bit disappointed with this blog. I've been following it for quite some time now, and, forgive me if this might sound harsh, how is it different from those publications it criticizes? It is directed at american readers and it's topic is Germany. It picks out single details and incidences and, based on that, creates a "big picture" which creates a biased impression. Exactly what "Spiegel" is doing (sometimes)."

Wrong. Read our mission statement on the sidebar. It states:

"It is important to keep in mind that the examples documented on this site do not reflect the entire German media landscape. There are numerous highly professional, relatively unbiased news sources to be had from Berlin to Bavaria. That said: The biased, anti-American media coverage that we document here does reflect a large and influential segment of German media. Most importantly: The type of reporting and coverage that we document on this site is having a significant and detrimental impact on German-American relations and transatlantic understanding."

Obviously there are some very good papers (Die Welt is one of them) that don't often engage in this activity. The problem is that far too many publications do, and it is having a major impact on how people see the United States. Further, before you go attacking this site and the people who produce it and their mission, at least know what you are talking about.

@ all

There is already a clear dichotomy here in the comments section: Those who can relate to the article and have experienced what it talks about first hand and those who feel a need to completely deny, diminish and discredit what it is talking about. Very interesting.

"Well wishers" are (again) attempting to change the topic from the bias in the German media to DMK's coverage of the bias in the German media.

The reality is that the vast majority of Germans are not necessarily anti-American, but hold various negative beliefs about America and Americans, most of them fostered by the German media. The extent of this phenomenon is quite astounding. You can be in a train, on an airport, in a cab and a German will eventually make some ridiculous claims about America, which are not always political and anti-American but which clearly show his/her lack of knowledge and genuine understanding. I attribute this to the "success" of the German propaganda machine.

In spite of this, DMK should be "nicer", because it might create a wrong image of the German media in the eyes of non-Germans. Right... Some commenters wake up from a deep slumber only when they believe that the German media might be seen in a too negative light. Otherwise, their sleep isn't too troubled by the effects of negative or untrue reporting in the German media. Their indignation is nowhere to be seen in those (not rare) instances.

"5. A sadistic-looking Rambo muscle man on the cover, emblazoned "OPERATION RAMBO --- The Secret ‘Spetznaz" Troops of the USA." (Spetznaz being Soviet death squads)."

I don't know how much of this was from a German magazine and how much is from Mr. Lewis, but (5) has a bit of misinformation. Soviet Spetznaz brigades were neither "secret" nor "Soviet death squads." Spetznaz is just a term for "special forces" used by the military, FSB and MVD and most Spetznaz units are somewhat equivalent to British SAS and American SF (i.e. Green Berets). Although some Spetznaz units trained for and actually performed assassinations, they were not death squads (of course I wouldn't put anything past the MVD).

As for the "sadistic-looking Rambo muscle man on the cover," that was just pure unadulterated propaganda on the part of Spiegel or whichever magazine put it out. Sadists get weeded out of American special operations groups real quick and it’s almost impossible for a "muscle man" to be able to pass the rigorous physical acceptance tests and training; they’re too big and slow.

As much as everyone agrees, on how good and true this article is, the author does takes a few liberties with the truth.

None of the covers quoted is a stern cover (and yes, I know about the Opel cover). The covers are for the most part from the Spiegel (#2-#5) and #1 is from the TAZ (showing the photo of the grafitti smeared on the former US embassy in Teheran). The Spiegel cover #4 (19/2004) is not showing a Klu Klux Klan figure, but one of the Abu Ghraib victims, the title reads "The TORTURERERS of Baghdad" (Ooopsie); #5 (10/2003) reads "OPERATION RAMBO - the secret special forces of the USA" (no allegation of death squads, sorry). Not really a good start into an article. (Can someone contact the author? I did not see a comment section and did not bother to look any further.)

Schroeder blatantly lied about the German economy and still got reelected, by comparing George W. Bush to ... (Yes. Right.)
When did Schröder compare Bush to Hitler? I must have missed that. Minister of Justice Däubler Gmelin received flak for making a comparison like that and retired from politics as a consequence. I agree, that Schröder played the pacifist card in a despicable manner in order to win the elections, painting the US as being belligerent - (big) parts of the pacifist movement are anti-American, so the argument may be argued to apply by proxy.

There are many noteworthy points in the article, on which I agree. Anti-Americanism is used as a tool to distract from problems at home. A little less Hitler would be beneficial, as well.

However, I feel the article's main intention is another: If you can only convince yourself that the other side is a crackpot, that any criticism coming from Germany is a product of German's psychosis, then you do not have to consider, whether some of the criticism offered (not all, mind you) may have a real basis.

@Don Miguel

"I don't know how much of this was from a German magazine and how much is from Mr. Lewis, but (5) has a bit of misinformation."

I agree, Don Miguel. I think, in general, the article gets it right, but there are a number of other points I could take issue with. It's telling that the "well wishers," as WhatDoIKnow refers to them with charming irony, don't bother to engage the article on any of these points. Instead, they simply dismiss the author as a right wing crank. That makes everything very easy. There's no need to actually engage your brain in the debate. Just strike noble poses from the moral high ground. We're all familiar with the MO.

You're right about the "muscle men," BTW. We used to train with those guys in the olden days, and there wasn't a Rambo to be seen among them. I've run into a few of them lately, and it appears that hasn't changed a bit.

Ray,

why so defensive? It was never my intention to attack this site, sorry if I left that impression. As I said, I find the intention noble, and wanted to share my personal impression in the hope that it might be valuable.

I know the mission statement, but I don't think that people, except for some regular readers, ever read it or even know of its existence. The casual readers come to this site, read one or two articles, go away, and tell their friend how horrible Germany is.

What is important is the first impression and the general tone of the articles, and this is (naturally) very different from the mission statement. The very fact that an article like the one on "American Thinker" can appear that cites this blog as it's major source, is proof enough.

"Judging by Davids medienkritik, the Germans just can't let go of us in their collective minds. They are hooked on anti-Americanism, and they can't turn it off. They can't just stop buying Der Spiegel, with its repetetive anti-American slander campaigns."

LOL. The author is right: We Germans suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder: We just can't stop buying Spiegel. LOL!

The emphasis in the above paragraph should really be on "judging by Davids Medienkritik."

Yeah, Ray, wants us to focus on the few aspects that are right in the article. Then you can also focus on the few aspects that are right in Der Spiegel.

Is the author able to read German? Does he follow the German media or is his whole piece based entirely on Medienkritik and similar US blogs? How is that for fair and balanced? Usually the German media is criticized for not being balanced and for relying on liberal US media etc...

@ blue

A couple things are clearly off the mark: The Spetznaz and Schroeder and KKK thing (it was an Abu Ghraib photo) are not accurate.

On another point: In Lewis' defense, he writes that the examples he lists "are all over big German news magazines like Spiegel and Stern."

The bottom line: Those errors are regrettable yet minor. Further, in my opinion, they don't detract in the least from the underlying argument. A more watchful editor could have cut the mistakes without impacting the thrust of the article in the slightest. It is that underlying argument that is worth discussing. Hopefully this does not devolve into a discussion about discrediting the author's politics (name calling) or attacking his inert errors.

@ Matz

You write:

"The casual readers come to this site, read one or two articles, go away, and tell their friend how horrible Germany is.

What is important is the first impression and the general tone of the articles, and this is (naturally) very different from the mission statement. The very fact that an article like the one on "American Thinker" can appear that cites this blog as it's major source, is proof enough."

I disagree with your underestimation of our readers. I think most of them are more than intelligent enough to judge beyond first impressions. Secondly, how do you (and Joerg) know that the author relied on us as his only or even primary source? Did you read his mind or ask him how much he really has studied Germany?

@ Joerg:

"LOL. The author is right: We Germans suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder: We just can't stop buying Spiegel. LOL!"

Well, in your attempt to be funny, you have uncovered a grain of truth. Just ask yourselves why Michael Moore sold as many books and movies as he did in Germany. The man achieved bestseller status for incredible periods and was a virtual cult hero. And why does SPIEGEL publish the covers that it publishes? Answer: Because it sells! And who is buying it? Why are so many Germans buying this? That is something we are trying to understand.

"As much as everyone agrees, on how good and true this article is, the author does takes a few liberties with the truth."

Thanks, blue, I agree. I appreciate it when you demonstrate an assertion for me so soon after I make a point. You've also demonstrated the difference between an individual with intellectual honesty and the people who, as Ray puts it, "feel a need to completely deny, diminish and discredit."

Perhaps someone could write about the Anti-Americanism neurosis of US conservatives.

I mean, how come that 90% of those complaining about Anti-Americanism are conservatives?

The other day, the LA Times had a piece "Why our enemies -- and friends -- hate us," but the other did not provide examples of hatred. Only examples of dislike and negative opinions.
Some folks seem to be pretty insecure and feel that the world hates them, just because the world does not love US foreign policy.

You are either with us (love us) or you are against us (hate us). There is nothing in between.
Isn't that a neurosis?


Katzenstein/Keohane wrote a book about "Anti-Americanisms in World Politics". Quote:
"Perhaps the most puzzling thing about anti-Americanism is that we Americans seem to care so much about it. Americans want to know about anti-Americanism: to understand ourselves better and, perhaps above all, to be reassured. This is one of our enduring traits. Americans’ reaction to anti-Americanism in the twenty-first century thus is not very different from what Alexis de Tocqueville encountered in 1835: "The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise... They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes." Perhaps we care because we lack self-confidence, because we are uncertain whether to be proud of our role in the world or dismayed by it."
http://atlanticreview.org/archives/468-Anti-Americanisms-in-World-Politics.html

"It's telling that the "well wishers," as WhatDoIKnow refers to them with charming irony, don't bother to engage the article on any of these points. Instead, they simply dismiss the author as a right wing crank. That makes everything very easy."

I'm sorry, but I simply don't have the time to seriously discuss every third class article or personal rant on the net. There is too much other valuable information out there which is worth paying attention to. That has nothing to do with whether I like the purpose of the author or not, only with minimal quality standards.

Blue,
I don't ever like to make blanket statements since they would be completely ludicrous.
I can however say that the average German is much more pessimistic that his/her American counterpart. It is part of the German way of life/psychology. The general public in Germany is also much more easily influenced than other cultures. It probably dates back Generations and has been handed down by Parents and Grand parents.
Furthermore, it always seems that the Government can do no wrong. Whatever they say is good since all they seemingly have to do is pass a Law and justify their position. Once this is accomplished, it is accepted as gospel. The Government seems to be very reactionary and stumbles all over themselves as evidenced in the Klima gespraeche. They just want to be first with their opinions and start shooting from the hip without making sure they have ammunition.

There is a major difference in reporting too. Wher in the USA the media uses the "?" in much of their reporting, in the German media the "!" is used instead and there is very little correction when the story doesn't pan out. It is just forgotten.
If there are 99 good stories about the USA in the Reuters or AP pool and one bad one, guess what gets reported and conditions their readers?
This has been going on for decades and one of these days it will bite the German Government and their willing mouthpieces (Media) in the ass.
Germany can hope that US reporting continues not to highlight and focus on the anti-Americanism in Germany. The backlash could be troubling.

By the way, just hope the fair tax will not be voted on soon. The economic repercussions on the world stage would be incredible.

Ray, American Thinker only cites DMK as his source.

Michael Moore is an American. His books are bestsellers in the US and many countries around the world.
Your main issue does not seem to be Anti-Americanism in Germany, but liberal viewpoints. Simply put: You turn a conflict between liberals and conservatives into a German-American conflict, and ignore the liberal US media.

"Is the author able to read German? Does he follow the German media or is his whole piece based entirely on Medienkritik and similar US blogs? How is that for fair and balanced? Usually the German media is criticized for not being balanced and for relying on liberal US media etc..."

Just look at yourself, Jorg. You read one article about Germany in the US media that seems unfair to you and you react with bitterness and rage. Then you turn around and lecture us, who've been reading articles in the major German media every day for the last 10 years that seem to us to be a great deal worse, about the need to respond with sweet reason and saintly attitudes. Doesn't that seem a little incongruous to you?

@ Joerg,

Actually, a few Europe-critical pieces have sprouted up in traditionally non-conservative publications like the NYTimes and the Washington Post of late. They mainly focus on real issues (like Afghanistan) and don't get into the "with us or against us" stuff.

I would say that conservatives are harshest and most vocal in their criticism, but to say that American conservatives represent 90% of the Europe-criticism in the US is just factually incorrect.

To react to your quote about why Americans (and others) care so much about anti-Americanism in a country like Germany: I care so much about anti-Americanism because it impacted me personally in Germany in a very real way and it impacts other just like me in a very real way. More broadly: It impacts German-American relations in a very real (and negative) way. My experience is shared by many of the people in this comments section and readers of this blog. Perhaps you ought to listen to what they are saying instead of just dismissing it with a quote. If you understand where we are coming from, you will understand the appeal of this blog.

Further, I understand that Michael Moore is an American. But the way in which he and his work are perceived in Germany and the US is quite different. Finally, I don't think it matters if you are liberal or conservative - German or American: Anti-Americanism of the sort documented on this site is something that ought to trouble everyone. If anything, far too many liberals simply ignore the problem because they wrongly believe it is all about hating Bush when, in fact, it is far deeper than that and will not go away when and if Democrats take the presidency.

Helian,

You quoted my questions about the author and conclude:

"Then you turn around and lecture us, who've been reading articles in the major German media every day for the last 10 years..."

Where did I lecture you? Those question refer to the author. They don't refer to you. I did not lecture you. Hey, did you take any notes during my "lecture"? We are going to write test next week... You still sound rather paranoid.

Ray,

I respect your personal experiences with anti-americanism (although I think the so called anti-americanism is something different), but you didn't answer the question by Tibor: if the purpose is to improve the german media and the german perception of the US, then why not address Germans directly and educate them? In my opinion, this would have a far more positive and constructive effect.

Ray,
I asked: "I mean, how come that 90% of those complaining about Anti-Americanism are conservatives?"

You responded: "to say that American conservatives represent 90% of the Europe-criticism in the US is just factually incorrect."

The fact that you don't differentiate between Europe-criticism and Anti-Americanism speaks volumes.


I am concerned about Anti-Americanism. Just read my many posts about Anti-Americanism:
http://atlanticreview.org/plugin/tag/Anti-Americanism

What troubles me is: Many US bloggers make it easy for Germans to dismiss their charges of Anti-Americanism, because they don't articulate themselves very well and exaggerate a lot and are very emotional. All this makes their criticism of Anti-Americanism less credible. Therefore many Germans don't take the good criticism seriously.

I think many US bloggers and many of their readers in the comment sections make these mistakes described by Andrew Hammel:


"Three pitfalls of anti-anti-Americanism:

1. Defensive denial/Complete identification. The anti-anti-American becomes so fed up with the supercilious tone of European anti-Americanism (or so afraid of "giving the other side ammunition") that he defends U.S. policy even against spot-on critiques.
2. Tit-for-tat. For every flaw identified by the anti-American, the anti-anti strikes back with an analogous shortcoming of modern European societies. Don't get me wrong; a bit of tit-for-tat is satisfying, and sometimes administers a needed corrective. But it rarely illuminates causes and nature of anti-Americanism, and often destroys dialogue.
3. Contempt. Just as many European anti-Americans are do not care to remedy the defects they mock in American society, many anti-anti-Americans are motivated by a mirror-image of contempt for Europe. On both sides, these critics don't want to understand; they want merely to score points and bolster fragile egos. Mark Steyn, for instance, could be put into this category."


http://andrewhammel.typepad.com/german_joys/2007/03/review_of_uncou.html

Americans who react that way to Anti-Americanism will not reduce Anti-Americanism, because their criticism is not taken serious in Germany/Europe. They just increase Anti-Europeanism.

What does DMK achieve? Do you really think that your posts reduce Anti-Americanism?
Or do they just increase Anti-Europeanism and Anti-Germanism?

@ Matz,

It is difficult to address people and "educate" them about anything if they are in denial about it or don't believe a problem exists to begin with. The first step to solving any problem is to recognize that it actually exists. In that sense, I don't think we are even to step 1 yet. So this site is about documenting and confronting media bias in an effort to raise awareness that a serious problem does, in fact, exist. As far as the media goes, we are outsiders with limited time and resources with full time lives beyond this blog. We can only hope to influence members of the media to change what they do themselves.

@Jorg

"Where did I lecture you? Those question refer to the author. They don't refer to you. I did not lecture you. Hey, did you take any notes during my "lecture"? We are going to write test next week..."

I have more rewarding things to do than take notes during your "lectures." It's all in the archives, though. For example;

"Why are they criticizing Europe so loudly, while being pretty quiet towards the Bush administration's appeasement of the corrupt dictators in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt?

"Thus, please don't make arguments and excuses for the Bush policy towards Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, if you criticize similar arguments and excuses made by Europeans."

Sure sounds like lecturing to me.

"You still sound rather paranoid."

Another of Jorg's endearing traits. He likes to salt his posts with ad hominem attacks. Don't be insensitive and respond in kind, though. He'll dissolve in tears and deliver another lecture about (you guessed it) ad hominem attacks.

@ Joerg,

It is just as factually inaccurate to say that 90% of the people complaining about anti-Americanism are conservative. However you want to slice it.

As far as Andrew's points go. I agree that one must avoid petty contempt, tit-for-tat and black-white thinking. That happens on both sides. On the other hand, I think Americans themselves are so fond of arguing about their own politics that it is unlikely that most Americans are going to defend national policy against "spot-on critiques". The problem is that much of the criticism coming from Europe is anything but "spot-on" or objective.

It is also very difficult to take German media criticisms of something like - say - the "fat American" seriously when, in fact, Germans are basically just as overweight in terms of percentage of the population. We see this sort of hypocrisy constantly in German media regarding the US. Again, if the US media is guilty of anything, it is of under-reporting on Europe.

@ Matz
"then why not address Germans directly and educate them?"

Good idea.

@ Ray and David, why don't you write DMK in German?
Because you want to tell Americans how bad Germany is?

I remember that you wrote about STERN's horrible online page about Americans not being interested in the world or something. Your English post was published in 2005 or so.
Then a few weeks (months?) ago, you translated that into German and asked your readers to write letters to the editor of STERN. Two weeks later, Stern has removed the offensive sentence.

That is the way to go, IMHO.

And as I said before: The best way to take on SPIEGEL is to write to the advertisers! Spiegel makes most of the money from advertisement, not from selling copies.
Big companies care about their international reputation.

This is a fairly easy to implement way to fight Anti-Americanism. I have suggested that repeatedly.

I heard there is currently a campaign targeting the advertisers on Ann Coulter's homepage...

So, if you really want to fight Anti-Americanism, then take on the media and their advertisers and write DMK in Germany.

If you want to increase Anti-Germanism, then continue what you are doing, but please don't continue to claim that you love Lebkuchen... ;-)

@ Joerg:

You write:

"And as I said before: The best way to take on SPIEGEL is to write to the advertisers! Spiegel makes most of the money from advertisement, not from selling copies.
Big companies care about their international reputation.

This is a fairly easy to implement way to fight Anti-Americanism. I have suggested that repeatedly. (...)

So, if you really want to fight Anti-Americanism, then take on the media and their advertisers and write DMK in Germany."

Not bad ideas. We simply lack the time and energy. If we had more time and people, that is probably something we would do.

"If you want to increase Anti-Germanism, then continue what you are doing, but please don't continue to claim that you love Lebkuchen... ;-)"

This is about exposing bias in the German media. If the German media stopped spewing hate, we could and would shut down this blog tomorrow. We are only responding to that problem, and doing so in no way makes us anti-German. On the contrary - we do this because we love both Germany and the US.

Ray,

"It is just as factually inaccurate to say that 90% of the people complaining about anti-Americanism are conservative. However you want to slice it."

So where are the liberals complaining about Anti-Americanism?

I have not noticed any here in the comments section or in the liberal blogosphere.
You don't link to any articles about Anti-Americanism in NYT, Mother Jones, Dailykos etc...

Ray,

"If we had more time and people, that is probably something we would do."

You find plenty of time to write long posts and debate with me, which I appreciate.

Asking your readers to write letters to the editor (as you or David did with STERN) does not require more work, but less, I believe.

Ray

"we love both Germany and the US."

Fuchur addressed that.

@Ray,
It looks like your last few articles on DMK have been so hard hitting that you've really touched a nerve. The defensiveness and denial (of some) in the face of yet another sheaf of biased articles only further illustrates the pathology of anti-Americanism. I think some Germans have been surrounded by it for so long that they genuinely do not realize how abnormal it is.

The work of this site gives hope to us that not everyone in Germany thinks we are terrible people. It gives us hope that you see injustice and have the courage to point it out. Instead of fomenting anti-Germanism (as you've been accused above), you are letting us know that not everyone agrees with the bile in the German mainstream media.

Your lead-in on the "American Thinker" item:

"Wow. The unsettling part of reading this is that it is that it is difficult to say whether Mr. Lewis is being too general or not about Germans in this piece. It would be nice to say he is being to general - but is he? We know that not all Germans are like this, but it is hard to say that what he has written is untrue - it rings of harsh, unpleasant truth. Read the whole thing and decide for yourself. "

...is very fair and asks the reader to make up their own mind.

Many thanks - your work is appreciated.

Hector

@Matz

"I could go on - this 'article' is crap from beginning to end - I cannot believe that some sensible and intelligent readers here like such stuff."

and

"I found the intentions of this website noble, but, sorry if it sounds harsh, but it is my impression, that it has turned into a personal hate campaign"

and then;

"I respect your personal experiences with anti-americanism (although I think the so called anti-americanism is something different), but you didn't answer the question by Tibor: if the purpose is to improve the german media and the german perception of the US, then why not address Germans directly and educate them? In my opinion, this would have a far more positive and constructive effect."

Can you explain to us how it is consistent for you to rail at and hurl insults at Americans you don't agree with, and then, virtually in the same breath, advise us to be positive and constructive in dealing with Germans?

It seems to me that the notion that anything useful can be accomplished by being "positive and constructive" with hatemongers is both irrational and flies in the face of recent history. The Jews did not accomplish anything by being "positive and constructive" with anti-Semites, and Jim Crow laws in the US were not defeated by being "positive and constructive" with the Ku Klux Klan. This website is not directed at all Germans. It is directed at the hate peddling propagandists who call the tune in the German media. It has been a burr under their saddle for years now out of all proportion to its size. Long may it remain so. These vermin are in the business of peddling propaganda for money. The idea that they will stop if they are simply addressed in a "positive and constructive" manner is beyond ludicrous. Want to try it? Start your own website. Good luck! One doesn't fight vermin by being "positive and constructive" with them. One shines a spotlight on them, and makes them squirm. This website has done that most effectively. No doubt it makes them uncomfortable that their profitable trade is starting to draw attention on the other side of the Atlantic, as the article this post addresses demonstrates. That's all to the good.

As for your stupid, vile contention that the editors of DMK, who have devoted so much effort to this blog out of principle, and with no hope whatsoever of material gain, have done it as part of a "personal hate campaign," I dismiss it with the contempt it deserves. For ten years I and many other American have witnessed a hate campaign in the German media against our country that has seldom been equalled historically. You didn't notice a thing. But let a little blog take issue with the pedlars of hate a little to sharply for your taste, and you suddenly detect "a personal hate campaign." Give me a break!

@ Joerg,

And for the record, this was my response, and I stand by it:

"Furthermore, it is not our job to promote Germany every time someone criticizes it. We are not a tourist office. We criticize the German media's extremism. That's what we do and that is what our site is about. We have raised an enormous level of awareness about this issue in the hope of improving German-American relations. We aren't going to sugarcoat or write token nice-nice articles every week about how much we love Lebkuechen to please people like you."

And for the record: I really do love Lebkuechen.

Also: Joerg, you are a blogger. Why don't you do the letter writing campaign? I really mean that. I would link it.

I think we have several factors that lead to the increase of Anti-Americanism especially after Germany and the GDR got reunited and after the end of the cold war.

- Disappointment about personal or nationwide economic problems, including high unemployment rates. Left-wing politicians and their media (and that's a great part of the German media) may or may not know that the reason for these problems are largely home-made and would require quite a lot of changes. However, these changes would not be very compatible with their ideology and - much worse for them - they would not be popular with their voters. Maybe it would be possible to convince them, although it has been made more unlikely through constant propaganda againt political opponents who dared to propose some necessary economic reforms in the past. Instead they have told their voters for years and years that the state and the bureaucratic EU would be the solution. Now, it would be very difficult to change this perception in the public. Still, it could be possible. But much easier is to blame others for our problems! Readers of DMK know the pictures that Spiegel and Stern gladly publish to do so.

- Unsureness about the future. The end of the cold war also ended the bipolarity of the world, and it has become more difficult to explain what happens in the world and to foresee what will happen. The threat of islamic terrorism, the rise of other rogue states, the availability of WMDs and missile technology, the so-called "climate catastrophe" etc. That leads to uncertainness and fear about the future. Also, Germany and the EU are too weak to influence or confront our opponents. But - let's make it easier and blame our allies! If just the US would stop their "evil" behaviour, all problems would disappear, right? We can't confront our true enemies, let's instead focus on a country that we know will swallow our "criticism" without any risk for us. And we can even feel good about it. One could call this phenomenon self-delusion in a massive scale.

- Appeasement. As mentioned above, we are unable and / or unwilling to do much about developments in the world that threaten us. Result: We give in, and think we can buy "peace" just a little longer. Iran continues its nuclear program? Let's give them more time. Again. And again. The US fortunately has politicians that can look at least a little bit further and are unwilling to appease our (common!) enemies. It's easier, cheaper and safer to blame them for the "confrontation".

- Fear. The US is a country where the state has less influence and people have to be more independent from the state. Germans see this model as a threat, they want a state that regulates their life. Again, that has to do with the MSM and (Euro-) Socialists telling people what to think.

- The German past, as stated in the article of the "American Thinker". But also in this way: Our past with millions murdered isn't a nice thing to think about, that's for sure. The easiest way to suppress the need to think about it? Find another Holocaust. And that's what people do when they "criticize" Israel or the US: "See? They aren't better!"

- Envy. Yes, that's also a factor. The "stupid" Americans are more successful and, regarding to polls, often happier with their lifes than many Europeans. That creates anger, especially among some who people can't understand the success of this "stupid" nation and its "stupid" ideas.

- Ignorance, lack of knowledge and prejudices. As has been stated again and again, many Germans don't know much about the US in general. Our MSM aren't telling them enough or distort facts as well, left-wing politicians are relying on that and don't want to change it.

PS: Of course not all Germans are anti-American. The above is an attempt to explain the reasons of those who are. Oh, and of course American politics can and should be criticized and that's _not_ anti-American per se.

@RayD
I'm a bit confused, have you seen me doing name calling before? Anyway, it is not my intention.

I don't see the errors as minor, as these very points are used to prove that Germans project the Nazi behavior onto the US. Take them away and that assertion loses a lot of its base. Sorry, the corrections took up way too much volume of my post.

The way I read Lewis article, he is trying to explain the behavior of Germans and German press by asserting:
a) Germans have a group neurosis, because they have a hard time / are unable to cope with their Nazi past.
b) This neurosis is the root cause of anti-Americanism.
While addressing quite a few symptoms and observations correctly (e.g. anti-Americanism is there and is used to deflect from homegrown problems, the EU in its current state is not really democratic), he fails to substantiate his above assertions.

Please explain, what you see as his underlying argument, as we obviously disagree.

P.S.: Sorry, if I should miss replies, the discussion is moving fast.

@ blue,

Two of the errors were essentially translation errors. The other was about Schroeder. In fact, it was one of Schroeder's ministers who (probably) made the comparison. I don't see how that fundamentally impacts the argument.

What is the author's argument? Read what he has to say:

"A neurotic obsession is like a bone stuck in your throat. You can't swallow it and you can't spit it out. That is how the German media are hooked on America. It doesn't look quite sane. (...)

And while we know that you can't always generalize from media madness to ordinary people, we also know that the media swing a huge weight of influence. So when the German Organs of Propaganda go weird and hateful, get ready to worry. Really. (...)

Judging by Davids Medienkritik, the Germans just can't let go of us in their collective minds. They are hooked on anti-Americanism, and they can't turn it off. They can't just stop buying Der Spiegel, with its repetetive anti-American slander campaigns. It's the bone in their throats. (...)

That's another oddity. There are things to criticize about every country in the world. Nobody in the United States is completely satisfied, and Americans always look for ways to improve ourselves, to solve problems and make progress. Nobody is happy with our crime rate, but we are always trying to fix it (with considerable success). That's rational.

The German neurosis isn't like that. They're not saying, "we like this about America, but we don't like that." They just keep pushing outrageous slanders that have no basis in reality, and then get übermad about us as moral defectives; the next week they come back and repeat the process. Then they do it again. And again. They can't swallow their anti-American fishbone, and they can't spit it out."

That really captures it for me.

@Hector7

"It looks like your last few articles on DMK have been so hard hitting that you've really touched a nerve. The defensiveness and denial (of some) in the face of yet another sheaf of biased articles only further illustrates the pathology of anti-Americanism. I think some Germans have been surrounded by it for so long that they genuinely do not realize how abnormal it is."

Ain't that the truth! You can nitpick Lewis' article, and you can ridicule it, too. After all, it's general contentions can't be proved by repeatable experiments, and its conjectures about the psychological engines of anti-Americanism must be seen as hypotheses, not facts. As such, they are very good food for thought. That's precisely what I'd advise anyone with an open mind to do; read the article and think about it. Its general tone will certainly not please many German readers, but they should control their urge to dismiss it out of hand and demonize the author. Some of its conclusions may be wrong, but the facts it discusses are real, and they will remain real whether one demonizes the person who points to them or not. It's about time Germans started reading what some Americans really think of them, whether it offends them or not.

As for the political tone of the article, deal with it. We're living in an ideological age. That's the reality, deplorable as the fact may be. If you dismiss anything that reflects ideological predispositions, and particularly ideological predispositions that differ from your own, you will simply miss the debate altogether. Savor the thinkers who have more or less freed themselves from ideological shackles, but don't fool yourself into believing that you can be truly informed by ignoring everyone else.

From the article:

"Will the European Union allow Germany to drown its identity and leave its neuroses behind? Not as it is presently constituted.

"The dead hand of the past can't be lifted until Europe starts telling the truth. Like a good therapist, Europe will have to allow free thought to be expressed in a safe and secure way."

This, to my mind, is a very serious issue. The problem will never go away until this monkey is off Germany's back. That's why I'm happy to see any expression of German patriotism, unalloyed by resentment of others.

Perhaps someone could write about the Anti-Americanism neurosis of US conservatives.

I mean, how come that 90% of those complaining about Anti-Americanism are conservatives?

Maybe, it's not about conservatives and an "Anti-Americanism neurosis"...and more about many liberals being quiet because of one of, or a combination of, many reasons. My experience is that American liberals tend to believe propaganda against America more readily than conservatives. You just have to check out some of the popular liberal blogs. There seems to be a sort of self-loathing about America in many of the comments.

Helian,

"Can you explain to us how it is consistent for you to rail at and hurl insults at Americans you don't agree with, and then, virtually in the same breath, advise us to be positive and constructive in dealing with Germans?"

this sentence is typical - you see an insult to an American, where I simply expressed my opinion about an article. Calm down... not everyone is your enemy ;-)

Ray,

if this website is directed at Germany and the German media, then it should be in German. Otherwise you are heating conflict, where your purpose is to reduce it.

If there is a problem, as you suppose, then you should convince German readers of it. If they listen to sensible and objective information, then you will make a change. You say yourself that there are a lot of good publications in Germany. If you say that they _don't_ listen to sensible and good information, then I feel free to call this Anti-Germanism.

Of course everyone can do what they want, I can only share my opinion. But I have learnt that negative actions are absolutely useless and always fall back on yourself. On the other hand, the more positive and constructive you are, the more you gain.

That really captures it for me.

Exactly, Ray. I think most Americans who have spent a significant amount time in Germany would agree with you.


@Matz

"I could go on - this 'article' is crap from beginning to end - I cannot believe that some sensible and intelligent readers here like such stuff."

and

"I found the intentions of this website noble, but, sorry if it sounds harsh, but it is my impression, that it has turned into a personal hate campaign"

and then;

"But I have learnt that negative actions are absolutely useless and always fall back on yourself. On the other hand, the more positive and constructive you are, the more you gain."

He's like the Paris fashions, isn't he? He just faces down ridicule. The funniest thing about it is, he doesn't even notice.

This writer is struggling hard to get a grasp on what´s happening on the other side of the pond. He has clearly identified the problem, but seems to understand very little of the background situation.

The best example of this is his assertion that European unification was somehow bad for Germany and its identity. At the time of Beethoven and Goethe Germany was as many nations as Europe is now, have the Rheinland and Thuringia lost their identities in the unification of the 19th century?

@RayD

"What is the author's argument? Read what he has to say:"

I agree completely that the excerpts you cite are the essence of the argument. They capture it for me as well.

The reality of anti-Americanism that Lewis addresses won't disappear because he happens to be a conservative any more than two plus two will become five if conservatives assert it is four.

@RayD
Thanks for condensing and clearing up the argument, that has helped a lot. The only weaker point I see is "Judging by Davids Medienkritik, the Germans just can't let go of us in their collective minds.", as your blog focuses on the outrageous bits; this does in no way invalidate the argument, given the influence of the Spiegel, so this is a minor criticism.

Two of the errors were essentially translation errors.
The translation errors are very damning and content altering ones.
The other was about Schroeder. In fact, it was one of Schroeder's ministers who (probably) made the comparison. I don't see how that fundamentally impacts the argument.
Minister of Justice Herta Däubler-Gmelin mentioned Bush and Hitler in the same breath. She received flak from all sides and tried to back-paddle, but it did end her political career. In contrast to this, Lewis implies you can gain politically by equating Hitler to Bush. Doesn't change the obsessiveness with America, though.

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