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The Anti-Americans and the Manichaean Narcissists

The New York Times starts its review of a documentary about Anti-Americanism with these two sentences: "Do Europeans hate America or love it? Lately the answer might seem a no-brainer."

Why is manichaeism so popular in the US media?  Why are Europeans not allowed to feel something between love and hate?
Why is the US media addressing this "Why do they hate us?" question all the time?
Professors Katzenstein and Keohane wrote in Anti-Americanisms in World Politics: "Perhaps we care [about Anti-Americanism] because we lack self-confidence, because we are uncertain whether to be proud of our role in the world or dismayed by it." Well, uncertainty is pretty universal, but pride is not so important in Europe anymore. I think Europeans don't expect to be loved by other nations. Those nations shall love their own country.

The US media often gives the impression that many Americans want to be loved and admired by others, and that they are disappointed if foreigners are not so impressed by the land of the free and the home of the brave with the shining city upon a hill. The American people, however, are much more relaxed and not at all narcisstic, I believe.

The PBS documentary "The Anti-Americans" presents the usual European characters, if the above mentioned NY Times review is correct: First they show a condescending Brit, then a French woman talking about obese Americans and then those charming Poles, who make country music, wear cowboy hats and wave American flags. It's the usual stereotypes and the typical European dichotomy: The Anti-American Old Europe, and the US loving New Europe. Of course, they don't show one of the many German Western Dance clubs, cowboy fans or country music bands. PBS could have reported that a country band represented Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest, but that does not fit into the prefered characterization of Europeans.

It seems that this documentary about Anti-American stereotypes reinforces stereotypes about Europeans. Isn't that ironic?

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Don S on :

Then again, the NY Times did report on the Karl May phenomena, complete with German Wild West festivals. So what do you want, egg with your beer?!!!

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

No, that NYT report was about Germans loving the Native Americans rather than the cowboy immigrants/"intruders": [quote]Dr. Zeilinger wouldn’t go so far as to say that May demonized the United States, which clearly he didn’t, although Hans Ottomeyer, the director of the museum, who wandered by to listen in on the conversation at that point, said: “May taught Germans that America was a wild place. There were natives and intruders, and he taught us to be suspicious of intruders, half of whom are good, half are very bad.” [/quote] Source: [u][url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/arts/design/12karl.html?ex=1347249600&en=e375a80b9a647254&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss]In Germany, Wild for Winnetou - New York Times Address[/url][/u]

Don S on :

Old 'Shatterhand' was noo a cowboy, Joerg? News to me....

Don S on :

My impression is that most people are just people. The soi-disant intellectual 'elite' are usually the ones who create the problems. I did run into an interesting piece of resentment last week. A number of Brits at my workplace were irritated about the movie 'Saving Private Ryan'. This is th emovie starring Tom Hanks with possibly the most realistic depiction of battle ever offered by Hollywood. Anyway, these Brits were affronted that the movie showed only heroic Americans and not heroic Brits. Well, the soldiers on Omaha Beach were Americans. The Brits had their moments. Arguably the battle of Pegasus Bridge between a small SAS unit and a battalion of German armor was more heroic. But also shortlived and (obviously) done in the dark. In any case, why doesn't Ealing Studios make a Pegasus Bridge or El Alamein film? Or pitch a studio to make a flick of the latter with Hugh Grant playing Montgomery?

Zyme on :

"This is th emovie starring Tom Hanks with possibly the most realistic depiction of battle ever offered by Hollywood." Are you making fun of us? Have you ever taken a look at the behavior of somebody in the film who is not playing an american? The germans for instance - do you think they behaved like being in complete drunkenness all the time like in the movie? It actually is one of the most unrealistic movies of the recent years that received a broad attention.

Don S on :

I was referring to the opening 30 minutes - the part covering Omaha Beach, Zyme. The rest of it had a Hollywood plot with all that implies. Less ideological than usual if anything. Strange, improbable thing happen in wars. I recall a story about an American paratrooper who had a hell of a day, capturing a batch of Germans with the help of one other soldier and a few other exploits. Amazingly he survived it unscratched and even more amazingly did not get the Medal of Honor, though what he did made most MOH winners look sick.

Anonymous on :

No, that NYT report was about Germans loving the Native Americans rather than the cowboy immigrants/"intruders": I'd think you were joking but it's you...

Pat Patterson on :

Maybe that German country and western band was so bad that PBS was too embarassed to mention? Besides PBS only broadcasts Andre Rieu, Doo-wop revivals, and really old folksingers. Its demographic audience does not skew toward C&W though on some stations Lawrence Welk reruns do better than anything else.

Don S on :

Well it's Eurovision - what do you expect? ;) The German band was called 'Texas Lightning' - I think they lost by a mile to a Finnish Monster Christian Hard Rock act called Lordi.

Fuchur on :

Sounds like the usual assortment of stereotypes: The arrogant Englishwoman at a fancy dinner party. The French woman of course is in la cuisine (always cooking or eating, those French). And the Irish are in a pub - and a bit raucous. And then we have the Polish, who - um, what do Poles actually do? Poor guys: Obviously they don't have any national idiosyncracies. No wonder they're doing American country music ;-).

Sue on :

Poles are stupid and they eat sausage. And Americans are barbaric simpletons who lack an understanding of nuance. Everybody knows that.

Don S on :

I have occasionally spotted an 'arrogant' Englishwoman although not at a dinner party. No, I spotted one reading the riot act to a couple of Southern Californian girls, both with that cringe-making Valley Girl accent ('Fer Shure, Fer Shure'). I could almost sympathise with the Englander - but not quite. She was reading them out for being in London - doesn't like their kind. I was too cowardly to intervene 'cause she would have reamed me also! "Americans are barbarians and just not on!". But most Brits are just people. 'Nice' often seems to be part of the national character except sometimes when a few pints have been taken.

SC on :

"The American people, however, are much more relaxed and not at all narcissistic, I believe." This sounds right to me, Joerg. In truth over many years, I can remember the topic of "why do they hate us" coming up in conversation only in response to some specific media story or when someone was tying to promote a political point usually related to foreign policy. And, I would add, it came up only in conversations I've had with university associates here at home or elsewhere. I honestly can not recall when this topic has arisen in conversation with people outside the university, and I do have a fair amount of contact with people outside the university. That fact of the matter is that, as it appears to me, most Americans are focused on their day-to-day lives and that of their family. There's much there to keep their minds busy throughout the day without ever stopping to think about what someone, perhaps a thousand plus miles away, thinks of them or of their country.

Don S on :

That was quite well-grounded, SC. Particularly so coming fromn a college perfessur! ;) "I would add, it came up only in conversations I've had with university associates here at home or elsewhere." I'll take you're word for it, SC. Although given my own passing acquaintence with university circles leads me to think there are a number of variants of the above, not infrequently in the vein of "why "they" (and we) hate those knuckle-dragging missing links who label themselves 'Republicans'". AND who have the temerity to win elections and therefore refuse to subordininate themselves to the proper 'ruling class' (people like ourselves, of course). From the POV of Certain People (aka the Ruling classes) the best ting about the EU is the fact that the Ruling Classes have firm control over there - in the form of the EU beaurecracies. Unlike the US, in which the people can elect whom they will.

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