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U.S.-German Rift Reaches Schoolyard Level
March 26, 2003 11:24 AM   Subscribe

U.S.-German Rift Reaches Schoolyard Level "A Tennessee high school has called off an exchange with German students...The cancelation was another indication that the disagreement over Schroeder's anti-war stand is beginning to strain German-American friendship at its heart." [more inside]
posted by tippiedog (23 comments total)

 
The first I heard of this was an NPR story this morning in which they played excerpts from an interview with the German teacher. Based on what she said, the situation doesn't sound quite as cut and dried as the AP article makes it seem. Misunderstandings on both side, but still sad.
posted by tippiedog at 11:27 AM on March 26, 2003


"Schoolyard Level" is right. The level of schoolyard namecalling...
posted by Shane at 11:41 AM on March 26, 2003


They are supporting the war effort there. Sure a lot more is being done out of Germany than just this too.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:47 AM on March 26, 2003


What Shane said. But from what I have seen on both sides, I can say that the german side is a lot harsher and more self-righteous than the american one concerning its propaganda against the other.
posted by zerofoks at 12:05 PM on March 26, 2003


zero: what is that opinion based on? I see an awful lot of self-righteousness among those Americans who are criticizing the Europeans whose opinions differ in how to deal with the current situation.
posted by tippiedog at 12:17 PM on March 26, 2003


To be fair, Europeans have been doing more than their share of "straining the relations" between Us and Them for about twenty years (criticism of US culture & government, flag burning, protesting, angry newspaper columns, general snubbings, you name it). We hardly have the market cornered on chastising those who don't agree with us.
posted by Karl at 12:42 PM on March 26, 2003


I dunno Karl... I wouldn't call millions of Europeans laughing their asses off at us over the 2000 election exactly anti-american. Which is to say we often get what we deserve, being the "World's Most Powerful Country" (tm), and having all kinds of wonderful egg on our face. For example, we still have the death penalty (and use it!), which most European countries consider barbaric. We are also the birthplace of Scientology, and have a happy little strip of Dark-Ages wonder called the "Bible Belt."

Not sayin' France is neccesarily better, just that the US gets this 'cause they're big; it's like making fun of celebrities. That said, the only real anti-American people I met in Europe were wierd old British women, who are luckily a breed unto themselves and unlikely to change any elections or explode any buildings. Also, most seemed to understand the difference between the American people and the American government.

Which is to say, we have only ourselves to blame for electing idiotic governments. I mean, Reagan? Come on.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:07 PM on March 26, 2003


U.S. Ambassador Dan Coats insisted that no retribution was intended and expressed regret that the exchange had been canceled.

"I think the children should have gone to Tennessee,'' he told the Hamburg Journal television program on Monday. ``We need to continue these exchanges. That's what maintains our good relations.'"


Coats is right.

My mom hosted a German exchange student when I was in college and living away from home. I got to know Oliver pretty well, and we still keep in touch almost 20 years later. My mother attended Oliver's wedding a couple of years ago in Germany, and she corresponds frequently with Oliver's mother. I believe that Oliver's family and my family are less likely to engage in name-calling about one another's countries than people who were never involved in a student exchange. We're unlikely to complain about "arrogant Americans" or "perfidious Germans" because we see one another as persons first, and nationalities second.
posted by Holden at 1:20 PM on March 26, 2003


I don't hate America, I'm just afraid of it. More than ever.
posted by CrazyJub at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2003


zero: what is that opinion based on?

My personal opinion and experience.
posted by zerofoks at 1:25 PM on March 26, 2003


The point of these exchange programs is to get to know people from other cultures. For example, there are programs to unite Protestant and Catholic children from Northern Ireland to help them get to know one another as people, not political entities. That's how understanding begins.

What a shame the kids from Tenn will never get a chance to talk to the German kids and learn why the Germans feel the way they do, and maybe, help the Germans change their minds, even if a little. And perhaps the Tenn kids might change their minds a little too.
posted by Red58 at 1:33 PM on March 26, 2003


"Kindergarten level" is more precise

It's sad that a sacred institution like student exchange programs has to suffer the consequences of this Freedom Fries, Tom Delay-ish hysteria
posted by matteo at 1:48 PM on March 26, 2003


I don't want to generalize, but... OK, what the hell: Have you ever been to Tennessee? We're talking repressed, hyper-conservative bible-thumpers driving their trucks past a church, a strip joint or a Wal-Mart on every corner. The exchange probably would have confirmed stereotypes of Americans rather than broken them.
posted by letitrain at 1:58 PM on March 26, 2003


That stereotype is all the more reason to have the exchange program. There are farmers and religious people in Germany too. Gotta open a few minds somehow.
posted by Red58 at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2003


I don't want to generalize, but... OK, what the hell: Have you ever been to Germany? We're talking repressed, hyper-conservative swastika-thumpers driving their Mercedes past a discoteque, a whorehouse or a butcher shop on every corner. The exchange probably would have confirmed stereotypes of Germans rather than broken them.

...Etc.
posted by Karl at 2:49 PM on March 26, 2003


Considering the tone and content of a majority of the posts on this site... and the people who frequent it these days... I was not surprised to open this thread and find this:

I don't want to generalize, but... OK, what the hell: Have you ever been to Tennessee? We're talking repressed, hyper-conservative bible-thumpers driving their trucks past a church, a strip joint or a Wal-Mart on every corner. The exchange probably would have confirmed stereotypes of Americans rather than broken them.

The only thing it confirms is your narrow view of the world letitrain

Just put your head back in the sand... wouldn't want your blinders to slip off and have you see the world for what it really is.

Enjoy the fantasy you live in.. the rest of us will be living it up and laughing at you and your pathetic existence.



Reminds me of the #mefi irc channel... newcomers are welcomed with open arms there as well.
posted by Duncan at 2:50 PM on March 26, 2003


Ooh, ouch, My face is getting red. My bad. Nevermind.

I'd like to issue a retraction. I regretted posting it almost immediately.
posted by letitrain at 3:22 PM on March 26, 2003


Proof that Germans are evil: German toilets.
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on March 26, 2003


I don't want to generalize, but... OK, what the hell: Have you ever been to Tennessee? We're talking repressed, hyper-conservative bible-thumpers driving their trucks past a church, a strip joint or a Wal-Mart on every corner. The exchange probably would have confirmed stereotypes of Americans rather than broken them.

Actually, a Korean co-worker expressed suprise at how sexually conservative and peaceful Americans are. Our movies had given her the impression that sleeping around and gun violence were much more common than she experienced in the U.S..
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2003


We are also the birthplace of Scientology

There's a statement where bemusement is universal, no matter what one's opinion on the War may be.
posted by y2karl at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2003


Letitrain said: I don't want to generalize, but... OK, what the hell: Have you ever been to Tennessee? We're talking repressed, hyper-conservative bible-thumpers driving their trucks past a church, a strip joint or a Wal-Mart on every corner. The exchange probably would have confirmed stereotypes of Americans rather than broken them.

And then Duncan said:The only thing it confirms is your narrow view of the world letitrain...

See, actually, I used to live in Tennessee, and I can confirm that the description that Letitrain provided is pretty darn accurate.
posted by bshort at 7:59 PM on March 26, 2003


a church, a strip joint or a Wal-Mart on every corner.

two out of three is not bad ( I don't like Wal-Mart very much)
posted by matteo at 8:01 PM on March 26, 2003


I don't know what Germany Karl's been to, it doesn't sound at all familiar to me...
posted by dagnyscott at 2:27 PM on March 27, 2003


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