(By Ray D.)
UPDATE: THE ENGLISH VERSION IS UP. This is an absolute must-read.
As we have mentioned before, every great once in a while - either Henryk Broder or Claus Christian Malzahn are allowed to post a token article on SPIEGEL ONLINE that goes against the usual anti-American grain of the magazine. The latest installment by Claus Christian Malzahn, entitled Böse Amis, arme Mullahs, is absolutely ground breaking and a must read. It is stunning in its honesty and directness - harshly criticizing the results of a survey revealing that 48% of Germans believe that the US is more dangerous than Iran - with only 31% believing the opposite. Yet, as we detail below, it omits a key element.
UPDATE #2: Katja Gloger - not exactly an unbiased bystander - also chimes in with concern at Stern over the poll results showing far more Germans see America as a threat than Iran. This has been a truly stunning week.
MAJOR PROBLEM: Neither Malzahn nor Gloger address the key role German media, particularly SPIEGEL and Stern, have played in drastically raising the level of anti-Americanism in Germany over the past several years. In that sense they and their colleagues remain - (Thomas Kleine Brockhoff comes to mind) - in a deep "state of denial." Introspection and self-criticism are painful - but to ignore the horrific malpractice and anti-Americanism in German media over the past several years is, in a sense, to play the audience for fools.
We love your article Claus Christian: But if you want to be completely honest - how about mentioning your own publication's major role in promoting German anti-Americanism?
Simply put: Although we welcome the discussion of anti-Americanism, it is disingenuous for journalists working for SPIEGEL and Stern to preach about the problem of anti-Americanism and point the finger of guilt at others without a large and hefty dose of self-criticism. Until that honest self-criticism comes - little will change in German media. Mr. Malzahn correctly notes that: "Anti-Americanism is the wonder drug of German politics." He fails to mention that it also the highly profitable wonder drug of German media - as the covers above graphically illustrate.
Token articles like these will continue to pop-up like ephemeral mushrooms whenever polls reveal the most disturbing symptoms of the Hate-America disease that has infected so many. In fact, a very similar round of token articles appeared in 2003 when polls revealed that 31% of Germans under 30 believed that the US government could have been behind the September 11 attacks. Then as now, German media wringed their hands in embarrassment and fired off a few critical articles denouncing the most extreme manifestations of Hate-America. SPIEGEL even dedicated a cover to the problem - but nothing fundamentally changed - and the German media was soon back to business as usual.
Endnote: We do have to give Mr. Malzahn some credit: He has consistently written against anti-Americanism in Germany. In his article, he even criticizes the beliefs held by many SPIEGEL ONLINE readers. Unfortunately, he does not take the painful and necessary step of criticizing his own publication. It is hard to criticize yourself, your colleagues and your entire field - no question. But, in this case, the problem will never truly be addressed or go away until someone in the field openly admits that the problem exists - as Eberhard Piltz and others did in private interviews. Finally: We have been documenting and debating the problem of anti-Americanism in German society and media for four years now - why has it taken German media so long to awaken to this problem?
Endnote #2: If you understand German - and truly want to test your sanity - check out the Hate-America comments written in the SPIEGEL ONLINE Forum on the Malzahn article. Every Hate-America opinion, conspiracy theory, resentment and one-sided, profoundly biased rant under the sun has legs on this forum.