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I'll do even better. Go read "The Reconstructing of America" by James W. Ceaser. He's a professor of Political Science at the University of Virginia. He traced anti-Americanism in Europe all the back to colonial times. There is a reasonable outline of the thesis of his book in here:



Interesting to say the least. I've always tried to give european governments the benefit of the doubt in how they hold my country in regards. But unfortunately, i'm afraid he's on to something there! Hopefully, that will not prove to be the case.

I'll have to check out that site. I've read other sources that describe the "manic/depressive" attitdues of Germans towards America over the centuries. Clearly, the political classes in pre-democratic Germany (or the collection of small states that became Germany) had a vested interest in painting the New World as darkly as possible, unless it served their interests to encourage emigration to reduce population. The news coming back from America, though, was so good that people left in large numbers, often without obtaining the requisite "exit visas", to take advantage of the cheap land, the unrestricted hunting rights, the general democratic/egalitarian atmosphere. By William II's time, we were viewed as a potential challenge to Germany's expansioninst plans.

It was and is at best a love-hate relationship from the German perspective. The ongoing issue at this forum is how representative the anti-american press here is of German mainstream opinion. My own personal impression from over a decade in Germany is that a surprising number of college-educated Germans harbor strong anti-american sentiments, whereas the average Joe (or Zepp) is more open to our country. Higher up on the economic ladder the opinions are more favorable.

Karl B.,

your personal impression is that college-educated Germans are more anti-american.

Can you see any difference in opinion between former West and East Germans?

Good question David. I'll be looking forward to Karl B's reply.

Just to clarify things: the "David Kaspar" asking for "difference in opinion between former West and East Germans?" is not the David Kaspar running this blog.
I by chance found him through Google and invited him to the Medienkritik blog.

Funny things happen...

I have met too few "Ossies" (Germans from the East to form an opinion. The ones that I have met here in the West strike me as down to earth and open. One in particular -- a blue collar, working class bloke -- has repeatedly offered words of support since 9-11. Of course, these west-ossies made a decision at some point to leave home to better themselves, so they may not be representative. The recent TV series, "Deutschlands Beste", left the impression of strong lingering support for Marx in the east that might translate into anti-americanism.

It is so hard to generalize. One picks up second-hand opinions from "friendly" Germans and Europeans based on their experiences with other Germans. A Dutch woman, a professional, provided revealing insight to me about a year ago concerning the rabid anti-amiercanism of many of her German professional colleagues. She was a very open person who, as best I could determine, harbored no anti-German sentiment (many Dutch do).

Most folks tailor what they say to their audience. I take everything I hear with a grain of salt. I was simply surprised by the frequency of strong anti-amiercan sentiment among college-educated Germans. (Keep in mind that a German "Diplom" is the rough equivalent of a masters degree.) There is a lot of prejudice here, some of which falls in to the general mistrust of foreigners, some of which falls into the trauma of prior relations with the US. Of course Bush provokes strong dislike that does not always come from a general anti-american stance.

After over a decade living here, I have the general impression that the favorite pasttime is staring at one's navel ... a very inward-looking country in spite of the fashionable international talk, the foreign vacations, and the huge export business.

I'm not really satisfied with this post, but the topic interests me. Does anyone else have any impressions on how widespread the anti-americanism is here. I'd particularly enjoy hearing from Germans.

Thank you, Karl B. for responding. An interesting bit of information.

For anyone who reads German, I stumbled across an interesting book a few years back called "Hessisches Auswanderungsbuch" (Insel Verlag 1983). As the descendent of someone who left Frankfurt for the U.S. in 1849, it was of particular interest. Another title recommended to me by a German, "Der Kleine Bruder -- Deutschland und das Modell USA" (Behrens / Rimscha, Bouvier Verlag 1997) also discusses the complexities of the German-American relations from a social perspective. I also recall reading an interesting article in "American History" a few years back.

I don't know how to ask this question delicately, so... Is German anti-Americanism coming from a different source than French anti-Americanism? There are a few premises lodged in that question that I want to make clear so that I may be corrected if need be.

- The French look down on everybody. The reason Americans give them such fits is because it hurts a stiff neck to look down on someone who is 'above' you.

- The Germans value their culture. but it has never been my sense that Germans needed to look down on others in order to validate themselves.
(Please don't anyone come in here and start with the Nazis, etc. I'm trying to have a dialogue, not a flame-thowing contest).

Basically, I'm asking, other than win WWII and the Cold War, what did we ever do to you?

Many Germans share this opinion of Michael Moore:

"We paid and trained and armed a group of terrorists in Nicaragua in the 1980s who killed over 30,000 civilians. That was OUR work. You and me. Thirty thousand murdered civilians and who the hell even remembers!

We fund a lot of oppressive regimes that have killed a lot of innocent people, and we never let the human suffering THAT causes to interrupt our day one single bit.

We have orphaned so many children, tens of thousands around the world, with our taxpayer-funded terrorism (in Chile, in Vietnam, in Gaza, in Salvador) that I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised when those orphans grow up and are a little whacked in the head from the horror we have helped cause.

Yet, our recent domestic terrorism bombings have not been conducted by a guy from the desert but rather by our own citizens: a couple of ex-military guys who hated the federal government.

From the first minutes of today’s events, I never heard that possibility suggested. Why is that?

Maybe it’s because the A-rabs are much better foils. A key ingredient in getting Americans whipped into a frenzy against a new enemy is the all-important race card. It’s much easier to get us to hate when the object of our hatred doesn’t look like us.

Congressmen and Senators spent the day calling for more money for the military; one Senator on CNN even said he didn’t want to hear any more talk about more money for education or health care — we should have only one priority: our self-defense.

Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn’t living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes?

In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race — you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all.

The Senators and Congressmen tonight broke out in a spontaneous version of “God Bless America.” They’re not a bad group of singers!

Yes, God, please do bless us.

Let’s mourn, let’s grieve, and when it’s appropriate let’s examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in.

It doesn’t have to be like this…

Michael Moore
[email protected]
Michael Moore Home"

Read what Susan Sontag, Uri Avnery and Mrs. Roy say about the USA and Israel. That is mainstream in Germany.

To many people, of course, that quote from Michael Moore is self-evidently true.

"... the rest of the world isn’t living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes?"

Yeah right. It's all our fault.

Never mind that it's been pretty well documented how MM the hypocrite runs over "little people" when they stand in his way.


Having lived in both France and Germany and having spoken both languages passably at one time or another, I think that I can safely say that there is a difference between German and French anti-americanism.

In Germany it is much more of a left-right issue: The communists and socialists tend to allow their ideology to blind them to America. (At the extreme right in Germany there is also a rabid anti-americanism, but with them we're talking about a very small percentage of folks who still don't understand what happened back in the 1940's.)

Strangely, some of the "realo" (pragmatic) German Greens, in spite of their strong leftist leanings, often are more open to America than the socialists. Joschke Fischer has said some very flattering things about the U.S. that I take at face value. The CDU and FDP types are also pretty open to America. To be fair to the Germans, many of them are so oriented towards America that it would be imposible for them to split off what is German and what is American in their make-up. We made a huge impact on Germany after the war, and Germans did not resist our influence the way France did. I often find myself using fewer English expressions when I speak with Germans than the Germans do. We should be flattered by that, as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. For these reasons I am still reluctant to conclude that anti-americanism is endemic in Germany. It may still be more media-driven.

The French appear to suffer from chauvinism across the board, regardless of political color. Ironically, as a student in France, I found myself getting along best with, of all people, the young communists at the small-town university where I studied. They were much more open to the outside world than their wealthier bretheren and treated me with respect in spite of my U.S. citizenship. They were terribly naive about the world, but basically decent people from modest backgrounds. I'm sure that may not be representative of the communists, just a personal anectdote. Chirac is on the right in France, as was DeGaulle, and they clearly view(ed) America as more of a rival than an ally. My theory on France is that, like the Americans, the French are extremely proud of their country, and they resent that American culture has in so many ways eclipsed theirs. France is also a very stratified, class-oriented society where it is hard to break out of your own class. That rigidity, I believe, causes a lot of bitterness. As Art Buchwald used to say, the French don't even like themselves; how can you expect them to like us?

I have not spent much time in France these past years, but I've rarely had a bad experience there since becoming a respectable grown-up.

Hope this makes sense?

Michael Moore, Sad-ass Sonntag, et. al. The posturing of the self-proclaimed intellectual elite bores me to tears - when I'm not splitting my sides laughing at the blatant dishonesty that provides clear evidence of just how stupid they think I am. The reason the Euros love Michael Moore is he is all their low-life stereotypes of the vulgar American writ large, but he validates THEIR self-importance by denigrating the very entity that calls it into question. That is pathological narcissism if I ever encountered it.

Karl B. In the context of all the other responses I've heard whenever I pose this question, your post makes perfect sense; In class-segmented societies, the elite make it, everyone else is supposed to know their place and stay in it. How could Americans possibly be so successful when the "elite" among them are so, um, stupid? At least Michael Moore knows where the Americans belong, yes?

tictoc - heh - haven't I "seen" you over at LGF? I post as 'grayp'

Everyone, many thanks for a wonderful conversation. I love the blogs!!

Hi Pamela!

Fellow lizardoids stick together :)

Go to the web site of one of the hoards of far left groups that operate here then contrast with the web site of a German neo-nazi group. You will be hard pressed to tell the difference in anti-american retoric. Indeed you will be hard pressed to identify which side of the political divide each site comes from, right down to the imperial German red, black and white color schemes.

When America is absurdly identified with degenerate culture, capitalism, and global subversion/imperialism, no German could fail to notice that the exact same charges and exact same retoric were once leveled at an internal minority.

When Germans play with these ideas and accusations they are experiencing the nefarious thrill of playing with feelings of national and racial superiority - ideas that dare not speak their name (at least since 45).

German anti-americanism is simply ersatz German anti-semitism.

From this comes its potence and the epedemic of gleichgang thinking following the SDP signaling its tollerance of such attitudes at the last election.

Simiarly Germans now use moral relativism to absolve themselves of the still potent feeling of national guilt.

"Hitler was a mass-murderer but Bush/Blair are mass murderer so anglophones can't any longer point the finger at us." runs the arguement. This is attractively soothing to a nation with a past which still stains it.

Look at Spiegel this week. They publish a British arial photograph of prisoners being marched through a death camp in 1944. The instant journalistic reaction when faced this evidence of the horror being carried out by their own country men? Suggest that the British and Americans were complicit in the act since they didn't do "enough" to stop it.

How soothing. How convienient. How dangerous.

Maybe german anti-americanism is a media-thing.
I'm not so sure about that.Germans learn since the middle of the 19th century, that the so called "Volksgemeinschaft" is much more precious than a self-responsible and individual life. The "Vater Staat"principle has strong roots in our society. And from the start around year 1850 they fought against the english way of running the economy.
I think it has something to do with the competition of two different views on how a society should be.Capitalistic (and "free"... and of cause "jewish"), or even more like a strong "father", who serves you, 'til your dead, with you serving also, often with your death.
In the 19th century the germans thought their way of running a society was the superior.Both wars in the 20th century resulted out of this way of thinking. And they lost both. The better philosophy had won.
This is hard to accept with those strong traditional roots, especially for the so called intellectuals, who still believe in the superiority of a state, that tells the people how to organize their life and their business. And there is an strong influence of those people in german media.Maybe we love america cause of its way of life, but we are afraid of a societey with no comparable social benefits like we have.

And also very important: When we are not allowed to start again a nice little war, no one should, especially not the english(americans).*g*

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