TIME MAGAZINE TAKES A LOOK AT ANTI-AMERICANISM….Avedon Carol has a message for Time magazine: “Bush is not America, and Europeans know this.” I’ve spent the past decade working with Europeans of various stripes, so Avedon’s complaint really hit home with me.
My experience has been pretty simple: most Europeans are not anti-American. I can’t vouch for what they say when I’m not around, of course, but in person political disagreements are pretty good natured. If anything, Europeans tend to be hypersensitive about cultural differences ? what with all those countries packed into a smallish continent and all ? and they mostly accept American culture as simply different from theirs. They may disagree with American policy frequently, but they don’t hate America.
But it’s a whole different story with George Bush. They just don’t get it. “Did people actually vote for him?” they ask, as if some horrible psychosis must have temporarily taken hold of the American population when they went to the polls in 2000. Most Europeans I’ve talked to find him simply incomprehensible: scary, intolerant, short fused, and ill educated. A hick, not a president of the United States.
And so we get to Time magazine, which last week ran a cover story about anti-Americanism in its European edition. And sure enough, here’s what it says:
Scratch a European complaint about the U.S. and it almost always reveals the person of George W. Bush ? the “toxic Texan,” as one American diplomat ruefully puts it. The President’s domestic record embodies things many Europeans find strange, if not repellent, about the U.S.: pro-gun, pro-death penalty, pro-Christian, antiabortion, strongly patriotic….Particularly offensive to Europeans are Bush’s swagger, tough talk and invocations of God and right and wrong, part of his born-again tradition that is attuned to the U.S. mood after Sept. 11. “We don’t see the common guy from Chicago,” says G?rald Duchaussoy, a 28-year-old office worker in Paris. “We see Bush. And politicians here don’t speak with his language.”
A former cabinet minister in the British Conservative Party, which is officially even more pro-American than Bush’s First Friend Tony Blair, recently leaned over at lunch and described Bush as “terrifying,” “ignorant,” “a prisoner of the religious right who believes God tells him what to do,” and “like a child running around with a grenade with the pin pulled out.”
Conclusions? None, really, except to take “anti-Americanism” with a grain of salt. It’s been around ? as has anti-Europeanism on this side of the Atlantic ? for a long time, and in any case its current incarnation is often more anti-Bushism than anti-Americanism anyway. It will likely subside in time, just as it has in the past.