Sunday, February 15, 2004

European Anti-Americanism

In response to this post, I sent the following to Glenn Reynolds:
I served a mission for the LDS church from 1967 to 1969 in southern Germany. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before, but when I came home, at a layover at JFK airport, I had a pretty negative reaction to American Culture myself when I listened to the New York radio stations. There was something different from the German culture I had be living in--it was unrestrained, cocky, loud and brassy. I had listened to Armed Services Radio in Germany, but it wasn't like this. I hadn't felt any anti-Americanism among the Germans, except one evening when an olive-drab Chev Impala came driving down the street car tracks in Stuttgart, and the driver leaned out and asked, in English, how to get to the bahnhof.
As I remember that feeling of shock I had coming back into American life, I can kind of understand why Europeans would resent us. It must feel like walking through a cathedral with a guy who keeps making too much noise, talks too loud, and says shocking things. It might also feel like being with General Custer in injun country. We don't have any respect, and what must make it worse is that our economy is kicking their butts, and they still admire American as the land of unlimited opportunities, but not having their welfare state safety net would scare them to death.

These days it must be unnerving to them when we keep doing things that make them fear we'll stir up the Muslims in their midst.


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