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Anti-Americanism in Europe
August 28, 2007 2:03 PM   Subscribe

This PBS documentary about Anti-Americanism (a hate/love relationship) examines the complicated mixture of envy, pride, admiration, and cultural misunderstanding that characterizes european views. This documentary covers only France, Britain and Poland. Is there comparable Anti-Europeanism similar to Anti-Americanism? Or maybe it's all down to the evil liberal european media [Part 2]?!
posted by homodigitalis (89 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here is a BT-Link to download the PBS documentary.
posted by homodigitalis at 2:04 PM on August 28, 2007


Here is a mantra for such things: We love Americans but hate what your government does.
posted by Postroad at 2:08 PM on August 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Actually, I think "we" love some Americans AND hate what your government does.
posted by knapah at 2:13 PM on August 28, 2007


and I meant to italicise "some".

i.e. we love some Americans AND hate what your government does.

I'm a fool.
posted by knapah at 2:14 PM on August 28, 2007


Hating America is very cathartic.
posted by blacklite at 2:22 PM on August 28, 2007


I thought it was more that we love your culture (your music, your movies, your books, your art, etc.) but we hate your people.

(Not speaking personally here, but the Ugly American stereotype still has some purchase in the UK.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:22 PM on August 28, 2007


the complicated mixture of envy, pride, admiration, and cultural misunderstanding that characterizes European views.

Really? Just those four things, then?
posted by rokusan at 2:23 PM on August 28, 2007


It's a matter of perception, baby and it's not like I am racist because I hate american, it's their fault they are americans :)
posted by elpapacito at 2:23 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


They didn't come to Canada?
posted by Kickstart70 at 2:24 PM on August 28, 2007


Is there comparable Anti-Europeanism similar to Anti-Americanism?

Do people even need to ask that question these days?
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on August 28, 2007


"A survey conducted last spring reported 58 percent of Germans aged 18 to 29 saying they considered the United States to be more dangerous than Iran."
posted by snownoid at 2:35 PM on August 28, 2007


They're all just jealous of our freedomz.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:39 PM on August 28, 2007


I thought it was "we love some Americans but hate what your government does and hate Americans in general to the extent that they either openly support or enable, out of ignorance or apathy, what your government does."
posted by anazgnos at 2:40 PM on August 28, 2007


It's just so fucking embarassing to go somewhere and have to explain over and over that you hate your leaders of government even more than the European you are talking to that I can't even accurately put the feeling in words.
posted by piratebowling at 2:58 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


(Not speaking personally here, but the Ugly American stereotype still has some purchase in the UK.)

As opposed to the Drunken British Lout stereotype that still has some purchase all over Europe?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:58 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


piratebowling - Slipping "I don't like George Bush" into the conversation early on seems to work quite well, something my American wife and I discovered on our travels around Europe.

I donlt really have much help for people who do like George Bush.
posted by Artw at 3:04 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Clearly, tourism favors the bold.

The only solution is to stay at home, of course.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:05 PM on August 28, 2007


the Ugly American stereotype still has some purchase in the UK.

My wife also found that explaining very early on that she was actually living and working in the UK, and not a tourist, works wonders there as well.
posted by Artw at 3:06 PM on August 28, 2007


the Drunken British Lout stereotype that still has some purchase all over Europe?

Here I can only duck my head in shame at memories of being in Amsterdamn at the weekend. During the week it was fine, but come Friday night the place started filling up with loud, obnoxious parties of utter assholes. And all of them were fellow brits. -Shudder-.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on August 28, 2007


I think its important to note the the Europeans hate America but people from everywhere else going to these Western European countries cannot fucking stand Western Europeans. This is the one thing I have found all over Western Europe (I never made it to the UK)
posted by Rubbstone at 3:10 PM on August 28, 2007


What about Nazis? You guys hate Nazis more than Americans?
posted by Tennyson D'San at 3:19 PM on August 28, 2007


piratebowling - Slipping "I don't like George Bush" into the conversation early on seems to work quite well, something my American wife and I discovered on our travels around Europe.


Its kind of wierd. I also had to keep repeating that I didn't vote for George Bush to get Europeans to trust me.

Oddly, it gives me a strange feeling to say so. I mean I'm all for burning effigies and stuff here in San Francisco but somehow when traveling abroad I feel I should be defending my country not dismissing it.

The thing is to disassociate the current administration from the country itself. Europeans still adore American artifacts - jazz and 80's music are more popular over there than here. It is like aliens who have been intercepting our transmissions. They know our sitcoms, our celebrities, our recent movies and old movies. They know our cities because they are the backdrops for so many movies. And they can speak our language despite never having set foot here.

And so the shared attitude is not: America sucks but rather America is so great...but I'm puzzled...why are you guys behaving like assholes. Its like having had a long-term crush, someone who seems kind and funny, and have then suddenly come up to you and punch you in the mouth. You're startled and you're also dismayed.

And in this sense, this feeling of, not shame, but disillusionment with ourselves and what we could be, I understand where the Europeans are coming from.
posted by vacapinta at 3:24 PM on August 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


piratebowling - Slipping "I don't like George Bush" into the conversation early on seems to work quite well, something my American wife and I discovered on our travels around Europe.

I donlt really have much help for people who do like George Bush.


I'm afraid the only Americans who can still afford to travel to Europe are the thirty per cent of Americans who still think Bush is doing a fine job.
posted by notreally at 3:32 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


When travelling Europe I pretend to have a cold so I sound Flemish.
posted by hal9k at 3:35 PM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm afraid the only Americans who can still afford to travel to Europe are the thirty per cent of Americans who still think Bush is doing a fine job.

Theres room for all kind of corss-overs, I know, but I'm not really sure that as a whole that's a particularly wealthy or travel inclined segment of the population.

i.e. Hicks, xenophobes and religious nuts.
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on August 28, 2007


"A survey conducted last spring reported 58 percent of Germans aged 18 to 29 saying they considered the United States to be more dangerous than Iran."

I'm not the only one to have found this an unsettlingly low number, am I.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 3:48 PM on August 28, 2007


I thought it was more that we love your culture (your music, your movies, your books, your art, etc.) but we hate your people.

(Not speaking personally here, but the Ugly American stereotype still has some purchase in the UK.)


Yeah, well to quote Homer Simpson, "We're big-shot tourists from everybody's favourite country, the USA. We saved your ass in Vietnam and shared our prostitutes with Hugh Grant. So gimme some free maps, and none of that dry British wit."
posted by vorpal bunny at 3:51 PM on August 28, 2007



piratebowling - Slipping "I don't like George Bush" into the conversation early on seems to work quite well...
"We're from Val Marie actually." works even better.
A small lie that saves a lot of carping...
posted by speug at 3:54 PM on August 28, 2007


We love Americans but hate what your government does.

This was easier to believe before you voted those shits into office for a second time.

There are many great things about America. Some of my friends are some of those great things. But it's also not entirely true that you can blame all of the antipathy towards your country on your current administration. And it's especially not true that "we love your culture" and that we're just miffed about your military adventures and puppet governments and torture and stuff. A lot of the strongest anti-american feeling is produced when America exports its culture. Because America exports its culture like America exports its cuisine - its cheap, sugary, makes you fat and a lot of old growth forest gets cut down in the process.
posted by silence at 4:05 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's convenient and comforting for USians to imagine that "anti-Americanism" stems from "cultural misunderstandings". However, I think the opposite is true. The more we understand you, the less we like what we see.

European "anti-Americanism" is not founded upon dislike for fat, obnoxious tourists. If anything, the last few years' craven Islamo-fear has thinned the numbers of visitors, but "anti-Americanism" has been booming.

Many millions of Europeans are Muslim - I'm an atheist, but I have Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues. Muslims everywhere now live in fear because the US has decided to paint them as a convenient bogeyman. I sense my friends' and neighbours' needless fear and sense of injustice. Am I wrong to blame the US?

But perhaps it's just the government that's to blame. Perhaps you are simply unfortunate victims of a vicious tyrannical regime? Erm, no. Sorry, but the US is a functioning democracy. That means you get the blame when the government you chose commits heinous crimes. The blood is on your hands. When will you start to accept that responsibility and do something about it?

While the US remains a distant place that only exists in sitcoms, there's little to dislike and much to be charmed by. It's when you emerge from behind the glossy TV-programmes that the facade begins to crack.
posted by mr. strange at 4:10 PM on August 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


vacapinta , you describe the general feeling very well.
I'm one of those intercepting aliens. The US is to me a virtual place; I know all kinds of minutiae about it but it does not really exist. I'm looking forward to visiting the US: fiction will become reality. It will be like visiting Middle Earth.
You guys will be just like in the movies.
posted by jouke at 4:13 PM on August 28, 2007


There's just a little Anti-American sentiment going around. (Youtube)
posted by Meaney at 4:20 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Groveling for the respect of others by belittling yourself and where you come from is shameful. Period.
posted by ogre at 4:27 PM on August 28, 2007 [7 favorites]


When people can start seeing people as individuals rather than a part of some undefinable collective, then maybe, just maybe, we can get past this anti-insert what's in vogue here-ism.

Try living life by defining what you like rather than what you think you hate.
posted by ozomatli at 4:27 PM on August 28, 2007 [8 favorites]


I like you ozomati.
posted by jouke at 4:32 PM on August 28, 2007


vacapinta writes "but disillusionment with ourselves and what we could be, I understand where the Europeans are coming from."

Actually that would imply a concern for what happens to americans and I doubt many would do much more then showing well meaning concern if, for instance, the average american tomorrows finds himself in the street because of unwise investments.

Yet that could be probably applied to many others nationality.

What puzzled some europeans, I'd say the most aware ones, was how quickly the drums changed from freedom, hope, opportunity, eldorado, science , hard work to the war drums ; the bipolar "with us or against us on terrorism" , the flag wrapping , the government apparently doing little for New Orleans (or not as much as one would like to see in their dreams) , the apparent destruction (or significant reduction) of health care and social security ; it's a switch from the idea of a land of "can do, you will have a good life if you work" to a "land of we have, if you don't you are fucked, don't bet on us helping you".

Others europeans, less concerned and less well informed , more then anything notice how infinitely idiotic the Iraq war is, both from the premise and the outcome so far and how the yanks were complaing about being misled by Bush administration, yet at least half of them voted him TWICE in a row !

Rather then hate and fear for the "bad yanks" I guess it's disappointment and fear for no longer feeling a benevolent giant overlooking the shoulders of weakers countries, because of the perception that the giant is really an asylum and the inmates are being runned by not so brilliant, but very cunning inmates.
posted by elpapacito at 4:34 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like you ozomati.
posted by jouke at 6:32 PM on August 28 [+] [!]


Hooray! You Dutch are all right!
posted by ozomatli at 4:41 PM on August 28, 2007


Hoera!
posted by jouke at 4:42 PM on August 28, 2007


Americans have more nukes and conventional military than any other country.

Americans have more guns per capita than any other country.

Over the past 50 years America has invaded or attacked more countries than any other country.

Other than 9/11, American terrorism has been historically mostly home-grown (OK City, Wacko, Ruby Ridge, Columbine..)

American standard cable TV has 4 or 5 dedicated channels pumping out military themed pro-American propaganda 24hrs a day.

-- --

Compares these statistics with Iran. Who is more scary, Iran or America? Who is more ideological driven and demonizing of its enemy?

I'm scared of America and I live here.
posted by stbalbach at 5:06 PM on August 28, 2007


OK City, Wacko, Ruby Ridge, Columbine

Uhm, it wasn't the "home grown terrorists" committing the terrorism at Waco and Ruby Ridge, not that the people in those compounds weren't nutjobs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:15 PM on August 28, 2007


Please, these Iran vs US comments are stupid and infantile. The US ain't perfect, no country run by mankind is, but c'mon...
posted by ozomatli at 5:24 PM on August 28, 2007


Europe doesn't loom as large in the American mind as America looms in the European mind. A large percentage of Americans don't give a damn what the Europeans say or do.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:24 PM on August 28, 2007


Many millions of Europeans are Muslim - I'm an atheist, but I have Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues. Muslims everywhere now live in fear because the US has decided to paint them as a convenient bogeyman.

Yeah, there was no anti-Muslim prejudice and bigotry in Europe before America got involved, and the UK certainly has nothing to do with Iraq, right, mr. strange? I'm not trying to make a tu quoque argument, but I'll say that the strain of anti-Americaism you hold to is more about absolving yourself of responsibility and ignoring the sins in your own house, to build up your own tribe by deigrating another.

And people who feel the need constantly slip that fact that they don't like and didn't vote for Bush into conversation are either more defensive than neccessary, or dealing with some asshole Europeans, who are only are only able to see you as 'American,' not an individual. I didn't look down upon the French when France was doing nuclear testing in defiance of the UN and international will in the 1990's, or the Germans when there are race riots there, or the Japanese even though they have many problems with prejudice towards foreigners and non-ethnic Japanese. I'm by no means perfect, (and neither is America,) but I can only try to see other people as individuals, and while I may dissapprove of, say, endemic racisim in Japan, I'm not going to be anti-Japanese or anti-anything else.
posted by Snyder at 5:36 PM on August 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


This was easier to believe before you voted those shits into office for a second time.

hey, ummm... don't know how to tell you this, but nearly half of America voted against Bush in the last election. He won by a meager 3% plurality. Our last congressional and gubenatorial election was a victory for the Democrats. Right now, 68% of Americans think that the country is on the wrong track, and only about 30% of Americans think that Bush is doing a good job. 48% would like to see the bastard impeached.

So keep that in mind next time you bash Americans for "putting those shits into office." Lots of us have been against him from the get-go (including the plurality that elected Gore back in 2000), and many more have since learned the error of their ways.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:41 PM on August 28, 2007


Try living life by defining what you like rather than what you think you hate.

It's much easier to know what you hate than what you like. It narrows the possibilities by elimination.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 5:50 PM on August 28, 2007


And they can speak our language despite never having set foot here.

Wow, they speak American?
posted by wilful at 6:10 PM on August 28, 2007


Think we've nearly reached the Golden Understanding of the Beast of Anti-Americanism in Europa.. just a few more interviews.
posted by romanb at 6:23 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


hey, ummm... don't know how to tell you this, but nearly half of America voted against Bush in the last election.

That clearly wasn't enough. We all know that almost half of you didn't vote for him. But democracy is not just voting and we've heard no news of effective counter-Bush movements. If they exist. Half of the democrats voted to go into war if I remember correctly. So they don't count as real opposition.

(that's what we call american indifference)
posted by lucia__is__dada at 6:24 PM on August 28, 2007


to expand on stbalbach:
Take the fact that Americans have more nukes and conventional military than any other country, and mix in a mindset that freaks out and mobilizes half the police force when a running club sprinkles some flour in a parking lot, and you have the makings of a global nightmare.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:34 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


That clearly wasn't enough. We all know that almost half of you didn't vote for him. But democracy is not just voting...

I wish the French could send over some advisors to teach us the art of the general strike, the way we send advisors into every 2-bit banana republic to teach them torture.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:36 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


A lot of the strongest anti-american feeling is produced when America exports its culture. Because America exports its culture like America exports its cuisine - its cheap, sugary, makes you fat and a lot of old growth forest gets cut down in the process.

America may have invented the Mars Bar, but it took a Scotsman to roll it in dough and deep fry it.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:45 PM on August 28, 2007


When I first moved to Japan in 1997, I lived in an international dorm with mostly English-speaking people. I found myself subject to barrages of anti-american comments coming mostly from the Brits (and this was in the Clinton years mind you). After becoming friends with some of them, they explained that they harassed me because they liked me - the Americans they truly hated they outright ignored. It was a well-learned lesson in humor, culture, and over-sensitivity.

As a student in Mexico, I was often told that my country had no culture. They pointed to McDonald's, Britney Spears, and Hollywood as examples of crass commercialism that we gringos mistook for culture. Fair enough. However, instead of becoming defensive, I introduced them to what I believed my culture was: cornbread turkey dressing, the Flaming Lips, and Gus Van Sant. They got it.
posted by ameca at 7:24 PM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Erm, no. Sorry, but the US is a functioning democracy.

no, it's not a functioning democracy. in 2000 Al Gore, the Democrat, received 50,988,442 votes; George Bush, the Republican, received 50,449,494. in 2004 the election was straight up stolen.

congress passes a law, bush does whatever he wants to it with signing statements. which is most likely unconstitutional being that a line item veto was deemed so and that didn't go nearly as far as signing statements.

things in this country are so out of wack and broken the people have little to no voice. democrats got congress, yet have been nothing but limp dicked wimps that don't follow through on anything. they just toss around non-binding votes to try and maintain some face.

imho it boils down to corporations being given personhood and the dollar being covered by the first amendment. we as a people don't have a voice nearly as loud or strident as k street or halliburton. nor do i think it's possible at this point.
posted by andywolf at 7:24 PM on August 28, 2007


also, in order for a democracy to be true you need more then two parties. that and a functioning media, which we don't have.
posted by andywolf at 7:32 PM on August 28, 2007


Please, these Iran vs US comments are stupid and infantile.

Your right.
posted by stbalbach at 7:34 PM on August 28, 2007


Sorry, but the US is a functioning democracy.

I really think that's debatable. We're definitely not a well functioning democracy. The balance of powers between the executive branch and Congress are seriously out of whack. I think the judicial system has done it's job (as a check on presidential powers) when it has had the chance, but the administration is adept at keeping their actions from judicial review. If a court does rule against them, the administration just goes back to the compliant Congress. There's plenty of writing on this subject and I don't need to (confusedly and inaccurately) repeat all of that here. The archives of Glenn Greenwald's blog would be good place to read about this subject. There are also the issues of our less than trustworthy electoral process and a largely rotten political press.

We have two major political parties in this country and both of them are in flux. The Democrats are mired in mediocrity and the Republican Party is in disarray. The Bush presidency has been as corrosive to the Republican Party as it has been to the Constitution it seems and many of our Democratic legislators seem to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. There is no third party that's ready to jump in and fill the leadership vacuum. Who's going to clean up the mess that Bush, and Republicans in general, have made? The answer to that question is probably not also going to be the answer to "Who will win the '08 elections?".

I do think that the Democratic Party is headed in generally the right direction these days and that eventually the "status quo but better" crowd will lose out to the more progressive elements of the party. But I might be wrong there and I doubt that it will happen before 2008 in any event. The thing most worrying about that is not that the Democrats might lose in 2008 but that nobody is going to be able to stop Cheney from getting us involved in Iran, like, real soon.

When will you start to accept that responsibility and do something about it?

I'm not sure this means anything. Where would you start? Have you ever sat down and actually thought about just how to dismantle the military-industrial-congressional complex. It's a daunting prospect to say the least.

I sense my friends' and neighbours' needless fear and sense of injustice. Am I wrong to blame the US?

I'm familiar with the Kafkaesque story of Khalid El-Masri. I remember the very alarming story of the man who was snatched off the streets of Milan by 13 CIA officers particularly well. Chilling stuff. Though, honestly, I would still think that the odds of any given Muslim being snatched of the streets of some European city by CIA agents are pretty damn low. Low enough anyways to file into the "try not to lose any sleep over it" category. That's the same category I try to leave my fear that my country is going to start a massive fucking war in the Middle East before I'm too old to be a soldier.

On preview: It sure took me a long time to compose this post. I see there have been a lot of comments. I haven't read them.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 7:45 PM on August 28, 2007


Compares these statistics with Iran. Who is more scary, Iran or America? Who is more ideological driven and demonizing of its enemy?

I'm scared of America and I live here.
posted by stbalbach at 7:06 PM on August 28 [+] [!]




Please, these Iran vs US comments are stupid and infantile.

Your right.
posted by stbalbach at 9:34 PM on August 28 [+] [!]


It is infantile to compare the US to Iran in terms of who is more ideologically driven and demonizing of its enemy. Listen, the US is not perfect, but any rational human being can see the US and Iran are miles apart when it comes to human rights issues. I am not scared of Iran, it poses no threat to me, but the leader of Iran did call for Israel "to be wiped from the map". The US is not pefect, but you have far more freedom here than you would in Iran and you know it. Hyperbole doesn't make a convincing argument.
posted by ozomatli at 8:10 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty certain that if I ever get bombed by Iran America is going to have had something to do with it.
posted by Artw at 8:28 PM on August 28, 2007


the US and Iran are miles apart when it comes to human rights issues.

The documents released today include 44 autopsies and death reports as well as a summary of autopsy reports of individuals apprehended in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents show that detainees died during or after interrogations by Navy Seals, Military Intelligence and ""OGA"" (Other Governmental Agency) -- a term, according to the ACLU, that is commonly used to refer to the CIA. ()According to the documents, 21 of the 44 deaths were homicides.
that was in 2005.

The US is not pefect, but you have far more freedom here than you would in Iran and you know it.

except to be a whistleblower. the point isn't what we have here, but what we do around the world. iran isn't snatching people off the streets and sneaking them off to be tortured. nor did they needlessly invade a country and kill nearly 1 million people and displace in the ball park of 5 million.

but the leader of Iran did call for Israel "to be wiped from the map".

just words without the means to back it up. we follow through and don't take the time to pick up the pieces when we're thru. since our ill advised invasion afghanistan provides 95% of the worlds poppy for heroin. that in itself is worse then anything iran can do.
posted by andywolf at 8:30 PM on August 28, 2007


my objection to a particular kind of American has less to do with George Bush or the US exporting bad television than the fact that there is a type of American who always has to be the loudest at your table. Or the next table. So you get to hear about them them them 24/7. Especially with that accent. That rubs people up the wrong way.

Not everyone is so boorish and rude, but these people stand out.
posted by dydecker at 8:30 PM on August 28, 2007


I wouldn't say I was anti-American, in the sense that I think it's facile to locate the problems of power in the world in one particular nation state. On the other hand, realistically, the significance of negative events in the world causally linked to the present Iranian regime is surely much lower than of those attributable to the present US administration and its agents, and their predecessors for several decades.
And then again, that's a trite truism to the point of meaninglessness. I'm British and have read some history. It comes as no surprise that the pre-eminent global power runs around fucking up things in its own interests with little regard to morals or decency. In some ways the interesting aspect is how vestiges of, say, liberalism in our empire or the ideals of the US constitution may go some small way to checking the venal operation of haughty power. Is that so, and is it something that can be built on in the service of human progress?
posted by Abiezer at 8:44 PM on August 28, 2007


Yeah, there was no anti-Muslim prejudice and bigotry in Europe before America got involved

There were no fucking bombs going of in london set off by muslims enraged by a stupid American war, that's for sure. Americans actions have been a guift to muslim exstremists, racists, nutjobs of all stripes and basically anyone interested in fucking shit up.

So in that regard I am not particularly impressed with America and it's role in muslim relations, no.
posted by Artw at 9:26 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The funny thing about the "58 percent of young Germans think" thing is that, in absolute terms, they are 100% right. America is more dangerous than Iran by pretty much any objective measure. It has the resources, the wealth, the firepower, and a proven record of willingness to use all of these to devastate any nation it chooses.

Iran is, on the other hand, a Second World nation with a 1970s-era military that could only fight Iraq to a standstill. You know, that Iraq that the Americans invaded and destroyed in a few weeks.

Not that destroying the nation turned out to be a wise thing ...

I think it's clear who's more dangerous here.

Now, in my experience the Germans are not especially anti-American. I don't advertise the fact that I'm American, but I never go out of my way to hide the fact either and I've never been harassed. In fact, when conversation turns to politics there's an almost even chance that I'll be talking to someone that I disagree with, but only because they agree with American policy in the Middle East and think that it's not a total disaster.

There are, I think, two lies here: that "Europeans" are a homogeneous population of people that all think pretty much the same way, and that "Americans" are as well. In my experience (again), a lot of people are asshats and jerks, and a lot of them are pretty nice, and that you can't tell which is which by finding out what nation they are from.
posted by moonbiter at 10:31 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


the leader of Iran did call for Israel "to be wiped from the map".

It is very famously known that Iran does not recognize the legitimacy of the political establishment of the state of Israel.

I have seen this phrase being quoted a dozen times before to show that Iran wants to nuke Israel or something. They may, but this quote doesn't demonstrate that, and it's disingenuous to claim otherwise.
posted by blacklite at 10:46 PM on August 28, 2007


he funny thing about the "58 percent of young Germans think" thing is that, in absolute terms, they are 100% right. America is more dangerous than Iran by pretty much any objective measure. It has the resources, the wealth, the firepower, and a proven record of willingness to use all of these to devastate any nation it chooses.

Iran is, on the other hand, a Second World nation with a 1970s-era military that could only fight Iraq to a standstill. You know, that Iraq that the Americans invaded and destroyed in a few weeks.


By that same token, Great Britain, France, Germany, and probably a number of other western European nations are more dangerous than Iran.
posted by gyc at 10:57 PM on August 28, 2007


Well, I kind of agree with them about Jesusland.
posted by cytherea at 11:06 PM on August 28, 2007


Europeans still adore American artifacts - jazz and 80's music are more popular over there than here. It is like aliens who have been intercepting our transmissions. They know our sitcoms, our celebrities, our recent movies and old movies. They know our cities because they are the backdrops for so many movies. And they can speak our language despite never having set foot here.

The America portrayed by American media is lovely. It is clean and bright and the people are fighting for the good of society and the world at large, there are sweet smiles, people are successful and aren't working themselves to death, the police are good men and women trying to keep the truly disturbed at bay, justice is done and mercy is meted out, the machinations of politics are those of just and worthy people working hard to make the country a better place, everyone can afford a hairstylist and lovely clothes, everyone has a doctor.

The dark side of America portrayed by the arts is seamy but sexy, hard-edged but polished just for you, driven from the true angst that comes out of living in a place that shits on you if you stop looking up for a second. The music, the film, the art, the writing that comes out of America includes, without a doubt, some of the most beautiful and heart-rending that I have ever encountered. At least in the English world, I suppose.

Strife breeds good art. America produces good art.

Living there is not like the art, and it's hard as hell on millions of people. I end up angry at the system, at the prospect that such a beautiful thing has turned into such a pile of shit, at the millions of well-off Americans who don't understand their position in the system and don't lift a fucking finger to change it because they lucked out and their lives are pretty much fine and they can watch Friends and comfortably relate because they have a white-collar job and medical insurance and it's no big deal to them because they go put in their 50 or 60 hours fucking around at something and ignore politics when they're not in front of a water cooler and punch a ballot every fourth November and change nothing because they're too caught up in their ignorance to bring some traction to the hamster ball of the American political theater. God forbid someone stop entertaining themselves to take a moment and go involve themselves in something that might move the country the tiniest amount in a better direction for someone that isn't themselves.

Also, Americans who travel seem to yell a lot.

But anyway. I know from personal experience that living in the US tends to carry with it a pretty pervasive, wearying, heavy feeling that there is absolutely nothing to be done about the political direction of the country, barely anything to be done about one's state government, and perhaps you can affect your municipal politics but generally they're just jerkoffs and that's not going to do anything other than get that sidewalk fixed in front of your favorite sandwich shop. It's all one big fucked up runaway train and the best you can do is make sure you don't fall off, because falling off at this point is probably worse than going wherever it's going.

I still get mad though.
posted by blacklite at 11:22 PM on August 28, 2007


Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran
posted by homunculus at 11:52 PM on August 28, 2007


By that same token, Great Britain, France, Germany, and probably a number of other western European nations are more dangerous than Iran.

This is true, which shows both the lunacy of the existential fear some people seem to hold for Iran as well as how the question itself is a loaded one. But the US is the extreme, most current example, having both a military larger than all of the above-mentioned combined as well as having used that military in the very recent past to invade and occupy another nation.
posted by moonbiter at 12:38 AM on August 29, 2007


piratebowling - Slipping "I don't like George Bush" into the conversation early on seems to work quite well, something my American wife and I discovered on our travels around Europe.


Se, that should not be necessary. I say it's embarassing because I shouldn't have to go around apologizing for or distacing myself from the governement that is supposed to represent me. They aren't standing for any values that I hold, but their image is the face I apparently have abroad. That cartoon that elpapacito posted before is my worst nightmare.

When I was staying with a host family in Germany this past month, the mother asked me what I thougt of Bush. I then just rattled off the list of any bad adjectie I could think of in German. I shouldn't ave to do that, but because I'm American if I don't make it very clear, the assumption is that I think Georgie Boy is doing a bang up job. It's exhausting.
posted by piratebowling at 12:57 AM on August 29, 2007


I found myself subject to barrages of anti-american comments coming mostly from the Brits (and this was in the Clinton years mind you). After becoming friends with some of them, they explained that they harassed me because they liked me - the Americans they truly hated they outright ignored. It was a well-learned lesson in humor, culture, and over-sensitivity.
posted by ameca at 3:24 AM

That is the way I operate. If I don't know you, or don't like you then unless you are directly in my face I won't say anything, negative or positive to you. If I do like you then you are a lot more likely to get the sarcastic comments. I don't think I'd call it harassment; maybe it does get a little close to that though.

So Americans I know and like get all the anti-american clich├ęs. English people get told off for the hundreds of years of oppression. Scots get informed that they are all really Irish if they go back far enough, and that they've failed to throw off the English yoke etc.

I'd never say it if I actually meant it. At least I don't think so, not without serious provocation
posted by Fence at 1:56 AM on August 29, 2007


If it makes USians feel any better about saying that they didn't vote for Bush etc. When I'm travelling around Europe I often make a point of informing the person I'm talking to that I'm Irish and not English (as is often assumed as a result of speaking English).

Service levels and friendliness tend to increase dramatically.
posted by knapah at 3:29 AM on August 29, 2007


I usually find that the fact I've just pissed in the street, am shouting obnoxiously and looking to pick a fight on the slightest pretext obviates me having to tell anyone I'm English. Think of the time and energy saved.
I also find slow and unfriendly service just makes me feel more at home.
posted by Abiezer at 4:10 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Abiezer is teh funneh.
posted by Artw at 8:24 AM on August 29, 2007


Abiezer: Yes, I think that would probably do it.
posted by knapah at 12:02 PM on August 29, 2007


Oh and by the way I hate so much americans I derouted my holidays to go to Colleville-sur-Mer and I decide to pick some casual cross and the fate decided for MELVIN V. FLAGER V. Pfc 16149968 1st I.D. 16th I.R.of Michigan. Now I don't know jack about him , but out of appreciation for his sacrifice I still cut some slack to some yanks I wouldn't bother a second with. And even if I don't pray , I have a pic of his cross and therefore a little memory of him.

Many other yanks can go fuck themselves, but not him.
posted by elpapacito at 5:40 PM on August 29, 2007


Se, that should not be necessary. I say it's embarassing because I shouldn't have to go around apologizing for or distacing myself from the government that is supposed to represent me. They aren't standing for any values that I hold, but their image is the face I apparently have abroad.

You're right it shouldn't be, just like it shouldn't be incumbent upon a black man to "prove" he is not a criminal, or a Jew to "prove" he is not pushy or a shill for whatever the nation-state of Israel is doing in the West Bank, or a man to prove he is not a sexist or a potential rapist or whatever is trendy in feminist theory, or an x to prove he is not y.

That does get tiresome after a while.

The new "Articulate black man" is the not-loud, not-fat, not-homophobe, anti Bush American.
posted by xetere at 10:35 AM on August 30, 2007


I think possibly you guys protest a little too much.

And I hope you won't mind me generalising about Americans again, but what is it about you guys that you get so upset that the world doesn't love you unconditionaly?
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2007


I don't know. What is it about British people that makes you so bigoted?
posted by Snyder at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2007


And protest too much? We're not the ones trying to justify prejudice towards a people with dislike for aspects of their culture/government.
posted by Snyder at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2007


A bigottry/prejudice against American which seems to mainly be expressed in the form of, what? Being a bit snarky about their tendency towards insularity and national self agrandisement? Boo bloody hoo. Wah wah wah. Worlds tiniest violin etc...
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on August 30, 2007


You're right it shouldn't be, just like it shouldn't be incumbent upon a black man to "prove" he is not a criminal, or a Jew to "prove" he is not pushy or a shill for whatever the nation-state of Israel is doing in the West Bank, or a man to prove he is not a sexist or a potential rapist or whatever is trendy in feminist theory, or an x to prove he is not y.

None of these easily-identifiable groups get together and vote for a set of leaders who ostensibly implement policy which critically and directly fucks up the world and kills people and then claims to be spreading true democracy.

The fact that you tied together being black and being a criminal, etc, even to make a point, seems more poignant to me than the point itself you were trying to make.
posted by blacklite at 5:23 PM on August 30, 2007


A bigottry/prejudice against American which seems to mainly be expressed in the form of, what? Being a bit snarky about their tendency towards insularity and national self agrandisement? Boo bloody hoo. Wah wah wah. Worlds tiniest violin etc...

Do British people have any national tendencies I can be snarky about? How about their tendency to get in a high dundgeon about America's sins, when they elect a leadership that willingly, even eagerly, follows the Bush administraions whims?

This is a stupid pissing match, and if you're going to start ascribing national tendencies, base them on something more then on your own prejudices, or have you unaware of the sterotypical insular and self-aggrandising Englishman, or the pompus and self-aggrandising Frenchman, or the humourless and self-aggrandising German, and so and so forth. Do you sterotype all nations this way, and use those stereotypes in actual discourse? Humor is one thing, actually taking them seriously is just stupid.

The fact that you tied together being black and being a criminal, etc, even to make a point, seems more poignant to me than the point itself you were trying to make.

That is such a bullshit accusataion of racism.
posted by Snyder at 7:27 PM on August 30, 2007


When Quebec separates I'm hoping we can adopt Vermont.
posted by phoque at 9:28 PM on August 30, 2007


I'm sorry no one who commented here seemed to have watched this PBS show. It was interesting, though of course completely anecdotal.

Some fascinating interviews. There was a very funny Polish writer complaining how it was more difficult for Poles ("Who love you") to get into the US than the French ("Who hate you. Even their passports hate you.")

And now I'm completely obsessed with getting my hands on a DVD or seeing a live performance of the Brit music theatre piece "Jerry Springer: The Opera." The tap-dancing chorus of hooded and robed Klansmen singing "So dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians" was a wonderfully absurdist take on US culture.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:34 PM on August 30, 2007


It was on PBS ... how could I not watch? Vermont PBS no less!
posted by phoque at 9:49 PM on August 30, 2007


I like Vermont
posted by phoque at 9:50 PM on August 30, 2007


Keep sneering, Snyder! We love you!
posted by blacklite at 1:56 AM on August 31, 2007


Damn, so late to this thread.

"but you have far more freedom here than you would in Iran and you know it"

Sure. But which country is more capable and more likely to project power in an objectionable way into my country? USA every time, I'm afraid.

And as far as human rights go, "we're better than Iran" is frankly pitiful. I'm so glad that I can transit North America via Canada and bypass the US altogether now. I don't think the Canadians are going to lock me up indefinitely without a trial or lawyer, or send me to Fuckupistan for torture, but apparently the USA just might.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:01 AM on September 1, 2007


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