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Mr German Courses

What about anti-european-convictions? Did anybody think about that in connection to the replies above?

Mr German Courses

What about anti-european-convictions? Americans often dont`t know anything about us here in Europe, and what is worst: they don`t want to know anything!

Don

What points was I to have addressed, Koch? Assuming that you were not condemned out of your own writings as a bigot and worthy of a response, that is?

"I still assert that Iraq – and the manner this decision framed Bush’s presidency – defined the abrupt loss of such solidarity for Europeans (and now a majority of US citizens, if you trust the 2006 Congressional results)."

Balls. The solidarity was lost a long time ago. I recall loud cries in the German press to try American soldiers as 'war criminals' during the 90's when the US was cleaning up the mess in the Balkans for you ungrateful Europeans.

This has been building for a very long time - Iraq was merely the pretext.

So be it. There is nothing more dead than a dead alliance - and NATO is rotting from the head like any other dead fish....

Koch

@ Don

Sorry, I won’t slink away.

1) Yes, Europeans did disapprove of of the Bush administration’s policies, and well before 2004. I’ll claim they felt immediate solidarity with the US in September 2001, and this persevered until around February 2003, at which point the US decision to invade Iraq became evident.

I still assert that Iraq – and the manner this decision framed Bush’s presidency – defined the abrupt loss of such solidarity for Europeans (and now a majority of US citizens, if you trust the 2006 Congressional results).

Don – it is late at night, and I’ll seek statistics tomorrow, should you still request them. Nonetheless, I believe that the majority of Europeans did not support the US invasion of Iraq – and the consequences thereof I have noted in past posts. I well recall a trip through Europe during March 2003 and the rainbow ‚Pace’ flags visible in government offices, residences, companies and institutions – literally everywhere. If Italy, Germany and France define Europe for you – then hey – it was a stark, visible display back then.

2) Sure Schroeder played the Iraq card for the political capital it was worth at the time with his „No to Iraq“ statements – and this was evidently significant. I’d argue the Canadian standpoint of ‚we’ll contribute to Afghanistan – and now all of our forces are tied up’ as far more savvy. Witness as well, however, the resounding political support Schroeder received in his reelection bid here in Germany as evidence of – at least – German support for that position. Germans wanted no part of that invasion. Or look at the support Chirac received through his similar position. Neither did the French. Contrast this with Merkel’s ‚malheur’ in visiting Bush and reaffirming German (opposition) support at the same time, and the political fallout she suffered here as a result. Or take a look at Tony Blair.

Again – if my metaphor is met with injury, I apologize.

But I note – you haven’t adressed the arguments I made in my previous post.

I think – given your tone – it is time to shift this to PM. As such – this is my last comment to this article.

Andrew Hammel

A few observations: I see no proof of ungratefulness. The day after the 9/11 attacks, NATO officially invoked its defense doctrine for the first time in its history. The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder offered the U.S. "unlimited solidarity." In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, as far as I am aware, all requests for assistance from the U.S. were met by Germany; and some extra offers were turned down. German/U.S. cooperation in anti-terror investigations has been smooth.

The U.S. had the resources it needed to respond to the 9/11 attacks, didn't need any particular help from Germany, and has never complained about Germany's conduct in the direct aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Germany was protected by the NATO alliance, as were plenty of other nations. But, of course, the United States' own interests were also served by this alliance. Further, the obliging behavior was not all one-way: Germany took some very unpopular decisions to support the alliance, such as permitting medium-range nuclear missiles to be stationed on its soil -- an action requesed by the United States which proved controversial in Germany.

There was some anti-American rhetoric during the 2002 election campaign in Germany. There was also legitimate criticism of wildly controversial American policies. Let us not forget that in late 2002, when the German campaign was in full swing, the United States was openly pushing for war in Iraq. For every fatuous piece of German anti-Americanism, there was a legitimate, entirely fair attempt to warn the United States of the dangers of this course of action.

I am not aware of any evidence of bad faith; that is, it's clear that Germany's leaders honestly, in good faith believed American policy on this point to be disastrously wrong. Therefore, they justifiably concluded it would not be in Germany's national interest to involve itself in that policy. They saw a serious danger to their own interests and took action accordingly. This is how nations act; it's how the United States acts. It's neither an insult nor an outrage.

It definitely bears repeating that Germany's policy -- and its advice to the United States -- was correct. Germany's clear, largely respectful warnings to the U.S. about the dangers of its plan to invade Iraq were analogous to a person taking his friend's car keys away from him after a long night on the town: it may (and did) provoke short-term irritation, but there's no truer sign of friendship.

The offensive Bush-Hitler comparison made by Hertha Daeubler-Gmelin resulted in an official letter of apology from Chancellor Schroeder, denunciation from most mainstream German politicians and commentators, and the resignation of the official herself. This strikes me as an appropriate response.

Don

I see, Koch. You are claiming the 'Europeans' disapproved of the Bush administration until the 2004 election, when the US electorate re-elected Bush and therefore approved what Bush had done. Whereupon the selfsame 'Europeans' transferred their disapproval onto us 'fat ignorant Yankee tourists' who re-elected Bush.

Firstly, I don't buy the 'Europeans' bit. Some 'Europeans', yes. Possibly many 'Europeans, possibly even most 'Europeans' - if you can prove it.

Second, the same dynamic applies in the other direction. Post 9/11 I saw a German government which was very, very, very reluctant to come to the aid of the US in any significant way. Despite Germany being the main beneficiary of the NATO alliance for a half-century it appears the view of the German government that NATO was (and is) a unilateral alliance - with no duties to the US that Germany need honor.

Then Schroeder used the US administration as one of the major issues in an election campaign which contained some very ugly rhetoric - including the ex-Justice Minister comparing 'methods of Bush' with 'methods of Hitler'. Thank you sweetly. But my anger was confined to the German government at that point. Up to election day when the German people approved of everything the German government had done by returning it to office.

Unlike your no doubt wonderfully tolerant and sophisticated self, however, I do not ascribe this to 'fat ignorant German tourists' or any such stupid stereotypes. Nor do I transfer your bigotry to a general judgement upon your countrymen or your continent. You stand for yourself, Koch, and nobody else.

I suggest you lose the bigotry or slink off!

Koch

Sorry - meant @ Don.

Koch

@ Norbert:

I’m sorry you disapprove of my metaphor. I disagree that the metaphor doesn’t serve to elucidate my thesis – although I’d agree that it is provocative, perhaps needlessly so.

My thesis remains that Europeans, dismayed at American foreign policy between 2000 and 2004, especially the invasion of Iraq, were willing to chalk that up to a rogue administration. Whether you pin it on - oil, ‚democratizing’ the Middle East, support for Israel by wiping out a serious threat – whatever. Doesn’t really matter. Most of the European conspiracy theories in this regard are one-sided and spurious. Senate and House debates reflect a wide range of discussion points, most of them poorly-considered and ill-conceived or unsupported, as most Congressmen today have acknowledged.

In mid-2004, most Europeans – and in particular, the people here who do more than read the Bild – remained fundamentally positively disposed toward the American people and American ideals, in spite of what their government undertook in the name thereof.

The thesis continues: In 2004, that positive predisposition was categorically undermined when a majority (slim, but still a majority) of American voters elected Bush back into office. It became impossible to argue that „I don’t like their policies, but most Americans don’t either, and I have sympathy for them, and we still share fundamentally similar understandings“. Obviously, most Americans either (a) did like those policies, or (b) weren’t terribly concerned by them, and voted for Bush for other reasons.

From a European standpoint, (b) is the only charitable explanation – or even reasonable one, according to European values, interests and perceptions. I think you would agree that it is hard to find a European who would endorse the GWOT or whatever it is called now in the context of the terms and discrete actions undertaken by the US administration. With that, I include Guantanamo, Iraq, renditions, civil surveillance, blockading civil investigations and judicial oversight and a disregard for the rights of individuals, sovereign states and the rule of law.

And (b), meaning an insensitivity toward other values, interests and perceptions, or even the lack of awareness of same, is the hallmark of the European stereotype of the ‚fat American tourist’ who blunders his or her way into other entrenched situations with neither an interest in, nor an understanding of these, and typically causes disruption and damage.

Tony Judt sums it up in a Nybooks article (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17726) perhaps best when he notes that „And that, not some sort of atavistic anti-Americanism or rocket-envy, is why many reasonable Europeans and their leaders are utterly enraged by President George W. Bush.“

He is referring to US insensitivity that the ‚far off’ range of Middle East policy and its inherent complexity ends up being right in Europe’s backyard – a fact to which many Europeans are extremely sensitive. Not for colonial reasons, but because this region serves as a trading partner, a geographically and strategically important resource center and a region with visceral and direct ties to Europe. An inability to grasp these dynamics or to respect them damages Europe.

For example: Turkey – a country which many Germans have direct ties to – borders Iraq. Allegedly more Turkish civilian contractors have been killed in Iraq as the result of the instability there than those of any other country. People here in Germany with relatives there (my taxi driver last month) are simply appalled at the state of affairs down there. The same applies to the Germans, as cited in my responses, who care about the civil, cultural and historical damage done to this country and its population, which continues today under the aegis of the US. They don’t sense that the US is proceeding there with anywhere near the appropriate amount of tact, sensitivity or awareness of regional norms, or even resources. They question - deeply - why this is not evident to or important to Americans.

Germans are well aware of what it takes to remodel a war-torn country. Above all, they are incensed that this disaster is largely disregarded by the American government as being a direct product of unwarranted US intervention, and that repeated efforts to address the problems lead nowhere. They cite Colin Powell – you break it, you own it – and they ask whether the US is even remotely prepared to accept the responsibilities attached to ownership – such as are enshrined in the German Basic Law („Eigentum verpflichtet“).

If you have issues with the thesis, expressed as above (or below), fire away. If you simply feel offended by the metaphor or my resorting to stereotypes, can you elaborate on why this stereotype isn’t applicable as such a metaphor, given the context? Feel free to pm me on the attached email.

PS – the Harvard and Yale comment was a direct shot at Bush, seeing as he graduated from these institutions. I have a lot of respect for these universities. My respect extends to their progeny on a case-by-case basis.

Don

Koch,

It seems to me that you are linking two unrelated concepts - and digging yourself deeper with each effusion.

You seem to to be fond of the 'fat ignorant American tourist' stereotype (which is offensive in itself), and you try to link this stereotype to the outcome of US elections and actions of the US government which you disagree with. As far as I can make out you believe the US electorate is composed of fat ignorant American tourists and it is these who elected Bush?

Except for people from 'Harvard and Yale' who presumably are aducated and should know better.

You seem disappointed with American behavior, which is your right. In turn I am disappointed by your attachment to ignorant sereotypes of all kinds "naive Canadian, the insensitive Brit, the drunken Australian or whatever", which exacerbates the negative effects of your previous negative stereotype ("fat ignorant American tourist").

I'm afraid this propensity of yours has dual bad effects, Koch. It makes you appear to be an ignorant German baiter of foreigners (particularly english-speakers). And it tangles your thesis beyond salvage. Asuming of course that you HAVE a thesis. You may not of course.

Koch


@ Norbert and James:

I have little against the 'fat American tourist', except that he - like the naive Canadian, the insensitive Brit, the drunken Australian or whatever (cliches - eben) isn't typically welcome wherever he ends up when he aims to put himself in a position to cause deep problems. Fat people with cultural sensitivity - no problem. Inqusitive and receptive but ignorant people on their first trip to Europe - no problem.

People who should know better as far as sensitivity and irgnorance goes (perhaps those who attended Harvard and Yale) and still act as though they were unable to benefit from either institution - and who were then elected ti the nation's highest public office - problem.

If the US had demonstrated either inqusitiveness or sensitivity prior to and re: Iraq, it still would have been an unjustified war with a dreadfully high toll on lives and livelihoods and cultural fabric - but we might have ended up with - at the end - an equation where the projected variable was justified by the prior evaluations. I - and I believe many Europeans share this view, increasingly Americans - don't believe this is the case.

Instead - 'we' - and I mean this as someone of US-American and Canadian heritage who has lived long enough here in Germany to sense nuances between the cultural domains - are manifestly disappointed by what has taken place in the name of 'America' and how this present situation - I come back to this point again - was essentially sanctioned by US voters in 2004.

That is simply hard to explain to Europeans. And - thankfully - to an increasingly large number of Americans as well.

Ligia

"Yeah, Norbert. When a German visits Lago Garda to windsurf and drink beer he is being broad-minded and international"

Don, you´re great! LOL!!! I was offline for few days and missed this enthusiastic debate: 41 comments! And one of the main problems here is the same I´ve seen in comments from other Andrew´s posts: some people just can´t understand the articles enough to enjoy 100% from "German Joys". Take it easy, guys!

Norbert

I would like to add to Don's post another factor that distorts the US-German tourism statistics mentioned earlier.

When European tourists use a U.S. airport as a hub to travel to Central or South America, they have to officially enter the U.S. territory and go through U.S. customs first before boarding the onward flight. So if you're only staying a few hours at Newark airport before you go on to fly to, say, Guatemala, you're acutally entering the U.S., if only for a short moment, and you therefore (probably) count as tourist having stayed in "America".

Carsten

Martin,

you do want to tell me that you see a causal connection between 64% believers in god and religion lessons in school? So the number should be even lower if there weren't such lessons? Let me tell you: 64% is by no means a lot for country that is christianized for 1200 years. It's a low number, considering that even these 64% are not true believers in the christian faith, as the lower number for the question about an afterlife shows. Even if someone both believes in a god and an afterlife, it is absolutely possible that his ideas are not compatible to christian teachings. I would guess that no more than 1/3 of the Germans really believe in the teachings of a Christian church, i.e., half of those who are officialy members of such a church.

martin

@Carsten,

somehow I'm sensing you're trying to prove me wrong but then you're giving me this number of 64% which is a massive success in terms of indoctrination. Especially when the same schools teach so much other stuff about life and the world that doesn't explicitly have any of that supposedly all-present God in it at all and leaves very little room for one.
The number of 42% of after-life believers is also critical in maintaining class divisions in a society, since believers can be asked to succumb to all sorts of indignations in return for promises delivered in said after-life.

Don

"When Americans come over to "do" Europe, they have to make a selection between at least ten countries to visit whereas for Germans, it doesn't make a difference: whether NY, Chicago, Grand Canyon or Yosemite Park, it's always America."

Yes. Some Americans literally think of it as Europe rather than France. Germany, etc. Others are better informed and recognize countries, and still others think in terms of regions.

I have a question about those statistics from the Office of Travel and Tourism, though? How do they capture them? Presumably from passport stamps at airports. In 1994 I was liviig in Italy and went on a long driving trip to Germany with 3 friends. No passport control at the border.

That presumably didn't count as a visit to Germany from the statistical POV. The same comment would apply to Americans entering Europe from Heathrow, Charles De Gaulle, Milano Malpensa, or Schilpol airport and continuing their journey by rail into Germany. A lot of Americans travel using the Eurail pass and relatively few of them will begin their journey at a German airport.

This is common in Europe but not in the US. I might fly into Toronto for a trip to upstate New York. Vancouver is another possible Canadian destination (to visit the US) although Seattle will be a better choice for the vast majority of Washington State. I cannot think of any other examples in North America.

Another thing is that Germany is not a top tourism magnet for Americans. France, Spain, the UK, Italy, and possibkly Ireland and Nederlands will draw more Americans. I have spent 10 weeks in France and probably 12 weeks in Italy as a tourist compared to only 3-4 weeks in Germany total. And only that much because I worked in Germany for about 3-4 months.

Carsten

Martin,

what you write about religious teaching in German schools is outright ridiculous, because it has nothing to do whatsoever with the German reality.

You write: "And even if all that kids get from their religious instruction is getting accustomed to having to obey authority and not publicly question basic tenets, then the damage is done."

Yes, if that was what they would get. But they don't. Religious instruction in German schools is not about indoctrination, it's about learning facts about a certain religion (and also about other religions, to a less extent). Knowledge about religion is obviously important to understand culture and politics. And the pupils are not graded for the strength of their faith, of course, but according to what they have learned, just like in English or chemistry lessons.

As for religious convictions in Germany, I cite a survey in "Spiegel Spezial: Weltmacht Religion": 64% of the Germans say they belief in a god (only 30% in the former GDR); 22% of those who are formally protestant christs say they don't, and 14% of catholic christs don't, either. 42% belief in a life after death, 50% don't, 8% aren't sure or don't want to say (interestingly, a 50-to-42% majority of the women does belief in life after death).

Norbert

Just to be clear: I didn't interpret Don's windsurfing post as a counterattack to my previous comment either. It was obvious to me that my comment was not anti-American and that Don's "yeah" was not meant hostile.

Joerg, your reaction shows that one can read a lot into "neutral" statements from a person when one is already expecting that person's hostility. And perhaps that is one symptom of the growing rift in US-European relations, that there is more and more mistrust against each other and thus, even small or just perceived disagreements prompt people to resent. Perhaps more often than we think we should reassure ourselves of our common grounds and voice them openly (sounds cliché but there's some truth to it).

Don

"Don, however, understood his comment to be Anti-American as is evident by his sarcastic response: "Yeah, Norbert."

You are wrong Joerg. I did not take Norbert's comment as anti-american. I was merely providing an example of a mindset which I have seen certain Europeans exhibit - but not ascribing it to Norbert.

You completely missed the point of the comment about windsurfing. The German and the Yank are after precisely the same thing, showing common human desires. Lago Garda and the Outer Banks both have great windsurfing. They are the same despite everything the pundits say....

Joerg

When James and Norbert were discussing tourism statistics, Don detected some Anti-Americanism.

I guess this is a good example of how quickly some Americans consider a statement to be Anti-American.

First James W. pointed out that the number of Americans visiting Germany is roughly the same number as Germans visiting America and comments "but remember that there are about three and a half times as many US citizens." I think, he is just speaking about statistics.

Then Norbert comments on the statistics by pointing out that America is bigger than Germany and that there is more to see in America than in Germany. Rather than comparing Germany with the US, we should compare Europe with the US. American tourists "have to make a selection between at least ten countries to visit whereas for Germans, it doesn't make a difference: whether NY, Chicago, Grand Canyon or Yosemite Park, it's always America." Thus, it makes more sense to compare the number of American tourists to Europe rather than just to Germany, because Germany competes with "at least ten countries" in Europe for the American tourist. Again, Norbert is just talking about statistics. I detect no Anti-American slant whatsoever.
Quite the contrary, I think he was defending Americans for not visiting Germany. Norbert made a pro-American comment by arguing that American tourists have plenty of other places to see in Europe. Not just Germany.

Don, however, understood his comment to be Anti-American as is evident by his sarcastic response: "Yeah, Norbert. When a German visits Lago Garda to windsurf and drink beer he is being broad-minded and international When an American visits the Outer Banks to drink beer and windsurf he is being narrow-minded and insular.
The same principal applies to beach vacations. Beach vacations in Tunisia, Spain, or Turkey - good. Beach vacations in the US - bad!
Hillarious...."

I find it hilarious, how quickly some Americans perceive a comment as Anti-American and feel offended.

Don, I am not trying to criticize you. I just consider this to be an example of what is at work here. I think these misunderstandings are typical for many Germans and many Americans.

Is this the hostile media effect at work? Many American expect Europeans to be Anti-American, thus these Americans are quick to read Anti-Americanism into any statement. Germans are not presumed innocent until proven Anti-American, but guilty of Anti-Americanism until proven innocent.

Don, what made you think Norbert was making an Anti-American comment?
Was it his reference to "When Americans come over to "do" Europe..."? I think he was just using a phrase, he heard somewhere. I do not detect anything negative and stereotyping in it, but of course that is just me. Perhaps I am not sensitive enough? Perhaps you are too sensitive? Who knows?

martin

@James W.,

in my first comment (scroll down) I just mentioned the religion thing as an aside but then people kept harping on so there you go. My blog also has other things apart from religion. On the other hand, don't underestimate religion. It doesn't need to be visible all over the (public) place to be there and guide people's life. I now a lot of people that say they believe in God but they don't need a church for that. And even if all that kids get from their religious instruction is getting accustomed to having to obey authority and not publicly question basic tenets, then the damage is done.

James W.

Raeefa, the cover you're referring to wasn't a Spiegel cover.

martin, it just strikes me as odd that all of things German you criticize (and there's no shortage of criticism), you end up focusing on religion. There's close to no religious rhetoric in German politics, no mega-churches, church membership is dwindling. Why did you pick religion? That's like complaining that there's not enough nudity on German TV.

Raeefa

@ James W.

Regarding the "anti-semitic" cliche used by Der Spiegel, I believe it was in reference to American businesses buying up German ones at exceedingly low prices - they used the term "bloodsucker" or something close to that, which was reminiscent of Nazi slurs against Jews.

martin

@James W.:

"You also seem to believe that religion is a subject that's taught in German school from first grade all the way through Abitur."
Yes I know it's hard to believe such a superficially modern nation could embrace such antiquated values, but that's exactly what's happening. I am not 100% sure about the Abitur (see below), but certainly from grade 1 all the way to grade 10, on a weekly basis, with no interruptions. East Germany may have exceptions. The early years are of course the most important ones since it's much easier if you get them young if you want to indoctrinate someone.

For Germany's most populous state, NRW, you can find the government's detailed "instruction plans" here, you have to register with the web site first. Plans for Grundschule, Sekundarstufe I/Gesamtschule and Sekundarstufe II seem to be there, the plans for Sekundardstufe I for other schools seems to be missing but that doesn't mean that religion isn't happening. For other states, I'll leave the exercise to the inclined reader.

Regarding the Abitur, in NRW you can elect both Protestant and Catholic Christian religion as your "major" for the university-like exam that is Abitur, as you can in most other states.

As for the atheism numbers that some commenter left on my blog, I don't know whether they are true to begin with and if yes, it's good to know that some people manage to wean themselves from religion as they grow up.

Don

Yeah, Norbert. When a German visits Lago Garda to windsurf and drink beer he is being broad-minded and international When an American visits the Outer Banks to drink beer and windsurf he is being narrow-minded and insular.

The same principal applies to beach vacations. Beach vacations in Tunisia, Spain, or Turkey - good. Beach vacations in the US - bad!

Hillarious....

Norbert

But remember also that America is roughly 27 times the size of Germany and, from a purely touristic point of view, there are at least as many times more points of interest in the U.S. than in Germany. When Americans come over to "do" Europe, they have to make a selection between at least ten countries to visit whereas for Germans, it doesn't make a difference: whether NY, Chicago, Grand Canyon or Yosemite Park, it's always America.

James W.

@Don

According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (http://tinet.ita.doc.gov), 1,415,530 Germans visited the US in 2005. 1,670,000 US citizens travelled to Germany that same year. That's roughly the same number, but remember that there are about three and a half times as many US citizens.

Don

Great points, Norbert. As for Koch, consider this:

I am fat, an american, and a tourist as frequently as I can manage the time and money to do so, which is often. I'm willing to wager that I'm better-travelled than the majority of Europeans. Particularly given that my holidays are spent in places like Paris, Rome, and Munish rather than the French Riveiera and the Costa Del Sol. I'm a fat American tourist but I try no avoid ignorance nd largely succeed. So please don't trot your stereotypes out here - they are out of place.

I would consider one more thing were I you. We have no such stereotype of 'fat ignorant German tourists' in the US, because there aren't many. Not because there is any shortage of fat ignorant germans, but because they mostly don't make the effort to visit the US and learn anything which might disturb their happy ignrance.

That fat ignorant American tourist has at least put him or herself in a position where they might learn something - unlike their counterpart from Germany, France, or Spain.

Who should be looking down on whom here?

Norbert

"we are manifestly and deeply disappointed when we realize that such a fat tourist of any background has ended up - through deception, wilfull blindness or simple disregard - overseeing the lives and livelihoods of 25 million people in one of the most abused and complicated regions in the world."

Please, Koch, don't speak of "we", dude. It isn't appropriate and it isn't true. "We" - who is that? "We" Europeans? "We" Germans? You're not allowed to speak for a group in the "we"-form unless they have given you a mandate to do so. You're not allowed to define what "most Europeans" think, either. Please, don't ever talk like that in the future.

What is more, your post is full of blind generalisations and criticisms. It's a poor attempt at explaining the reasons for the recently increased anti-americanism. The "fat tourist" is a very simplistic, unfair picture - after all, don't you profit as well (directly or indirectly) from the dollars the fat tourist spends here, i.e. don't you enjoy a standard of living that is for a good part owed to the efforts of Americans?

James W.

@James Versluys

Der Spiegel is attaching anti-Semitic clichés to American businesses? When? Where? They had plenty of anti-American titles, for sure, but anti-Semitic titles? News to me.

Koch

Ben:

Thanks for your comment / response.

I didn't search for the bits in the M essay that upheld my point that Iraq is - in my humble opinion - 'the' tipping point for the German demographic I have encountered and reference in my comment. I won't debate whether M, in his general phrasing, meant Iraq directly. I suspect he intended a host of issues to be caught, many of which are more or less justifiable according to European views, in particular the civil rights coomment I included near the end.

I simply express the view that: When this demographic group of Germans - those emotionally or intellectually charged to view the US positively, with experience there, highly-educated, a well-travelled and broad-ranging outlook, etc. - namely, an elite, start to display anti-American views, that is truly problematic and cause for dismay. The flashpoint is Iraq, or one of the issues into which the Iraq decision inescapably elides (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the cultural destruction I referenced in my previous comment, the sense of purposelessness with which one presently seeks a solution there, etc.). The 'elephant' comments are appropriate; I stand by my opinion that the majority of Europeans were appalled when Bush was re-elected in 2004. That - more than his policies or mistakes - was disturbing and truly unexpected evidence to them that a majority of American voters no longer discern those values and ideals held by Europeans of most stripes as being essential. Worse, the American voter showed him/herself able to overlook those entirely in order to determine the election on other grounds. That would be the most charitable view - these grounds themselves, though, remain incomprehensible to most Europeans.

That leads us to the rupture in an optimistic and positive view of the US in this particular elite community, which I believe Andrew has often pointed out does more to shape policy debates in Europe than the populist view. All of us have met the 'fat ignorant American tourist'. The elite has seldom allowed that image of the US to truly shape our view of Americans generally (I note that hardly any German is concerned about the notion of the fat German tourist on the beach so avidly as the e.g. British or Spanish media).

However, when the US government itself starts acting like a fat ignorant tourist, one questions whether that view isn't perhaps appropriate - at least for the Americans we don't speak with on our streets in Frankfurt, Chemnitz and Munich, and who ultimately reelected Bush (in spite of the efforts of those Americans here we are most likely to speak with, and who are typically disgusted, enraged and sickened by what has been performed in their name). We're worried that the caricature of the US has somehow been able to avail itself of political reality, and truly little we see from this administration dissuades us in this suspicion.

At the least, as residents of countries which experienced war and dislocation in the immediately preceding generations, we are manifestly and deeply disappointed when we realize that such a fat tourist of any background has ended up - through deception, wilfull blindness or simple disregard - overseeing the lives and livelihoods of 25 million people in one of the most abused and complicated regions in the world.

James Versluys

It's always tenuous running from a single example of personal experience, but I have to say I haven't detected any difference in a worse way since 9/11 or 2003: it could be my experiences pre-2003/2001 were particularly bad (my worst experiences were during Clinton's presidency...which is when the French coined the term "hyperpuissance", coincidentally).

Germany in particular I had bad experiences in pre-2001, but then I also don't read German at all (I speak it poorly and colloquially Saxony) and never seem to drink in enough mass media when I'm there (it's always about women one way or another when Germany and I are concerned, leaving me little time to connect with the fatherland culturally, which isn't true of other countries).

But, when I was there during the 90's, I almost always seemed to have the quintissential near-violent anti-American encounter, which I haven't had my last few trips since the 2003 war: during the 90's I had been in three different encounters* where I think my sheer size (I was a bodybuilder once) saved me. And none of the time were we talking neo-Nazis, but otherwise well-behaved family. Oddly enough, I always seemed to think anti-Americans know they can hate Americans more directly because America is an actually functioning democracy (unlike, say, the EU) and thus, it is statistically likely the fella shouting "Fuck Clinton you Amerika azzhole!" might guess accurately the guy he's shouting at voted for him.

I've not had any violent or near violent encounters since 2001 despite having been there more often. I have noticed the somewhat-cleaned up english speaking media (in the sense of being anti-Am) has become more like the regular anti-American media used to be, at least what I heard on television. Places like Der Spiegel have put enough english content up to know pretty decisevely they're worse than they were (old anti-semitic cliches now being attached to American business, etc.). But overall anti-Americanism? I don't think it will change at all. I think it would have been around the same level no matter what America did: it's just too convenient a political football. Everyone needs someone to hate. America is safe to hate, there aren't any downsides.

I'd be less concerned about whether Merkovitz is devoid of emotion in his piece as to whether he's right or not. Maybe David "Mediakritik" is less bloodless, but he's also provably right most of the time.


*- Of course, I'm exagerating here a bit: one of the encounters barely counted as being "near-violent", just a slight shove and an anti-American hiss.

mark

@martin: "It's about giving one single church, which in practice is either the German Catholic Church or the German Protestant Church or in very rare cases, a Jewish or Muslim institution full and unfettered access to a young student's blank and eager mind starting age 6 for most of their student life" - you do realise that you sound very silly when you first say it's _one_ church that is given access to my blank and eager mind and then continue to list four religions that can use this opportunity, do you? i guess i still see what point you're trying to make, but i am sorry to have to tell you that you're just wrong and no amount of tubthumping is going to change that. read a little bit about the different approaches that different countries have towards the question of the seperation of church and state. read about religious education in europe in general and germany in particular. then come back. in response to your question, though: the religion classes i took were taught by protestant teachers, though the reason is quite profane - catholic kids had to change classrooms, whereas protestant kids used the same classroom we used for all other classes back in the grundschule. if it'd been the other way round, i would've been taught by a catholic teacher, as i actually do not belong to any religion, never did and never will.

as for scientology, it's not considered a religion in germany. i don't belong to scientology either, though. never did and never will.

Sebastian Koppehel

You missed this in Markovits' essay:
"There can be no doubt that many disastrous and irresponsible policies by members of the Bush administration, as well as their haughty demeanor and arrogant tone, have contributed massively to this unprecedented vocal animosity on the part of Europeans toward Americans and America."

Yes, that's not a serious discussion of the impact of the Iraq war. If it was, it would most likely contain the word "Iraq," and I would have found it. This is just a throwaway comment probably intended to indicate the author's political leanings, i.e. to point out that he's not a Bush fanboy. Note how the author's profound disinterest in the question is given away by how nonchalantly he places the notion that the Bush administration is guilty of "many irresponsible policies" beyond doubt. There can be no doubt? I don't know what world he lives in, but mine is full of bloggers whose daily business is to refute accusations of irresponsibility against George W. Bush. That and selling t-shirts that "the liberals will hate!"

Look, there's a funny metaphor in English, that of the "elephant in the room." The underlying mental picture is of a social gathering of some sort in a room, and there's a big fat elephant in the room. Everyone sees it and thinks "What the hell is that elephant doing here?" And he knows everyone else must also see the elephant. But nobody says a thing about it, for reasons that one may speculate about, so we end up with the surreal picture of a huge elephant in the crowd and everyone looking the other way and talking about the weather. The "elephant in the room" is the great, remarkable thing that should warrant mention.

Andrew Hammel has written:

But her speech has its own "elephant-in-the-parlor": the invasion of Iraq.

The same goes for Markovits. And now you've found a paragraph where he essentially says, to carry the metaphor further: "Undoubtedly the presence of certain animals contributes significantly to the shortage of space that I perceive. However, that is but the tip of the iceberg. The size of this room has long given rise to dissatisfaction ..." Great.

Morten

@Joerg

Ok, Under attack was a bit exaggerated, Under observation sounds a lot nicer. but just don't see the reason why they are under observation, or did they do anything wrong yet?,

In Denmark we have had some ex members complaining about the difficulties leaving the organization, everything else just press hysteria, At least I think so.

Morten

@Martin

"Conservative or communist, Arab immigrant or nationalist dock worker, Green party member or factory owner, Europeans from all classes and backgrounds can agree on their disgust with one or another quality they associate with the United States."

Conservatives or right wing bashing of North America(not South, because Germany loves them) is a typically German thing(not European!), have never felt it in Denmark, or France where I have spend most of my life. Most Europeans are great full to America(and some, even to the Soviets) for, ok don't mention the War.

Joerg

@ Morten

If I am not totally wrong, Isn't the Scientology Church constantly under attack from
your "liberal" German Article 3 state?

How do you define "under attack"?
Scientology has just opened some big new center in Berlin.

Since it is more a dubious club rather than a religion, some Landesverfassungschutz agencies monitors them. I am sure the FBI monitors some mosques as well...

The British Sun ;-) reports: "Tom Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion. A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,4-2007030603,00.html

Joerg

@ Sebastian Koppehel

I just searched Markovits' article for the word "Iraq." Oops, it doesn't occur. So this is an article about recent developments in European anti-Americanism which doesn't even mention the Iraq war? That is ridiculuous.

Interesting way to judge an article.
There are many words for "Iraq"... ;-) You missed this in Markovits' essay:
"There can be no doubt that many disastrous and irresponsible policies by members of the Bush administration, as well as their haughty demeanor and arrogant tone, have contributed massively to this unprecedented vocal animosity on the part of Europeans toward Americans and America."

Morten

@Nicolae

"The German constitution guarantees freedom of faith and religion. It also states that no one may be discriminated against due to their faith or religious opinions. That's Article 3 you obviously haven't ever heard about"

If I am not totally wrong, Isn't the Scientology Church constantly under attack from
your "liberal" German Article 3 state?

James W.

martin,

having read your blog, it's interesting to see that you're lecturing people about blanket accusations. But back to the point: where did you get your insights about religious education in Germany? How do you know what people are taught in those religion classes? You also seem to believe that religion is a subject that's taught in German school from first grade all the way through Abitur. Also, how do you explain those atheism numbers quoted in the comment on your blog? Seems like the indoctrination you know so much about isn't quite working.

martin

@mark,

no, constitutionally provisioned religious instruction is not about presenting student with a birds-eye view of the world's religions in order to let them make an informed choice of which religion to follow, if any. It's about giving one single church, which in practice is either the German Catholic Church or the German Protestant Church or in very rare cases, a Jewish or Muslim institution, full and unfettered access to a young student's blank and eager mind starting age 6 for most of their student life. It is up to them to point out to the kids that there are alternatives in the world, but this is not provided for by the constitution and nor what happening in reality. I'm eager to hear which church provided *you* which such a fair and balanced view as that not how churches operate normally.

martin

@Nicolae,

concerning Sudel-Ede and "personal consternation or distortions of perceptions" please stick to specifics and refrain from blanket accusations.

To all the readers from honestly secular countries,

as to Nicolae's point 2: Parents don't have to have their kids subjected to religious instruction, but consider this: a) For parents that are ambivalent about sending their kids to some religious instruction, the fact that religious lessons are right there in the state-sponsored building right in the kids' regular morning school schedule inbetween the state-run math and state-run geography lessons makes it very convenient. b) From the kids' point of view, the 'facts' about God and Jesus are coming from the same truted source that reading, writing, biology and all that other essential-for-life goodness come from, which gives it a huge credibility advantage, c) the teachers giving the religious instruction all also teach at least one secular subject, such as math or language or whatever, further blurring the line and d) student's involvement and aptness in following the religious instruction is graded just like any other class and will show up on the bi-annual report card together with all the 'real' stuff e) discrimination is a fuzzy word, if 29 kids are sitting in the classroom following Jesus and one gets locked out the door because their parents are 'different', how do you think they feel. A fool to claim innocence on the part of the state here.

This also doesn't make the whole thing just some cooperation between the church and state, as I am willing to admit for the case of the church taxes that the state helps the church collect from its followers.

I also don't know where you get your numbers from, if 30% are not "officially" registered with any religion, that means in the first place that they don't pay tax to any of the Big Two churches and nothing about either their convictions or whether they have their kids participate in the constitutionally provisioned religious instruction scheme. I failed to find any numbers on participation levels in a rush, but an informal impromptu survey in my "circles" confirms levels around 90% or more, in West Germany that is and not in any area that's dominated by Muslim/whatever minority. East Germany is a case of 'fortunate side-effects of a disease' where the totalitarian state that wouldn't tolerate any other authority besides it discouraged and marginalized religious education.

As for 'religious freedom' at age 14, it means that in theory kids are free to make their own choice independently from their parents. By which time it might be too late for many, if you want to get'em, get'em young.

Last but not least, it can very well be that the state's efforts don't have their intended effect on a share of citizens and some grow smart and reject the indoctrination when they grow up. Good for them but that's like saying drugs aren't bad because of the odd case that recovered from them.

Ben

@martin

Nicolae Carpathia already said what can be said about the state "dutiful carrying out its constitutional duties of religious indoctrination of the natives of young age" (Wow. You're not writing your blog to be taken serious, I suppose.) except maybe that below the age of 14 *the parents* can decide to free the children from any form of religious education.

About Antiamericanism in Germany one should remark that there is also a large faction of proamericanists (Atlanticists) who are willing to apply double standards in Americas favour. As I see it both factions are nurturing each other. In the end it's probably not even about America anymore, it could be any country.

Sebastian Koppehel

Koch:

Nonetheless - this person, as well as many others - point to the Middle East generally and to Iraq specifically as the situations and the incident in particular that have irreparably ruptured their view of the US in its present political and social constellation.

I just searched Markovits' article for the word "Iraq." Oops, it doesn't occur. So this is an article about recent developments in European anti-Americanism which doesn't even mention the Iraq war? That is ridiculuous.

Joerg

Hi guys, interesting debate in the comments section. I have pointed that out here

The Katzenstein/Keohane book seems to be very analytical/detached and less emotional/personal than Markovits. I have not read his new book, but several of his other essays and books.

I tend to agree with Martin, who commented "A lot of criticism by the Anti-Americanists is correct, but the intention of voicing is to destract from one's own shortcomings."

mark

indeed, article 7 is about the guarantee of "religious education", which is education _about_ religion. given the importance of religion to so many people, i would consider education about religion a necessity to understanding today's society. i've never been a member of any church and i went to my classes on religion way past the age of 14, mainly to learn what all the fuss is about. learned a lot about judaism, buddhism, hinduism, islam, christianity. had some good teachers. don't see any signs of religious fundamentalism in there.

Nicolae Carpathia

Martin,

the qualitiy of your arguments and your profound knowledge of Germany's Basic Law and the social reality of religion here is almost comparable with so-called "David's Medienkritik", in my eyes nothing more than the US version of former East Germany's propaganda TV show "Der schwarze Kanal" with Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, typically called "Sudel-Ede".

1. For a serious and in-depth analysis of so-called "Anti-Americanism", I warmly recommend the new book "Anti-Americanisms in World Politics" from Peter Katzenstein and Robert Keohane. Beware! It's based on empirical facts, not on personal consternation or distortions of perceptions.

2. There is no "marriage of church and state" in Germany. In your blog, you wrote insane stuff about religion everyone living in Germany -- especially Atheists like myself -- will roll on the floor laughing. As an example, your comments about church bells: "After the state has dutifully carried out its constitutional duties of religious indoctrination of the natives of young age (article 7 of the constitution, way before property rights etc.), complete with Pavlovian conditioning to certain sounds colloquially known as “ringing of the bells”, it only takes a simple refresher ringing every now and then to keep the submissiveness circuits ticking."

*Cooperation* between the state and religious communities is entirely in keeping with the German constitution and religious communities that are of considerable size and stability and are loyal to the constitution can be recognized as "corporations under public law". But: The German constitution guarantees freedom of faith and religion. It also states that no one may be discriminated against due to their faith or religious opinions. That's Article 3 you obviously haven't ever heard about.

Article 7 later states: "Religious instruction shall form part of the regular curriculum in state schools, with the exception of non-denominational schools. Without prejudice to the state’s right of supervision, religious instruction shall be given in accordance with the tenets of the religious community concerned. Teachers may not be obliged against their will to give religious instruction."

For our concerned American readers: If you are a Non-Christ or an Atheist like myself you obviously don't have to go to religious education. What an absurd idea... If you are at the age of 14 ("religionsmündig") you can choose for yourself if you want to hear bizarre stories about Jesus and the old man in heaven or not. A little slip of paper with your signature, that's it. As an alternative, schools are demanding "Ethics" or "Philosophy". This might be the major reason why there is absolutely no demand for something like creationism or "Intelligent Design" as a trojan horse version - simply because students have the opportunity to hear about "christian" ideas and values in public schools so concerned parents can sleep well. But don't ask a clergyman about the age of the earth or the origin of mankind! He will raise his eyebrows and tell you that this isn't part of his business, that the Bible isn't a scientific textbook and that we aren't living in the Middle Ages anymore. Why? Because churches in Germany are almost entirely mainline churches based on liberal theology. That's why our theologicans compare the American evangelical movement with other fundamentalist movements like islamic fundamentalists.

And now the social reality: In total more than 66% of the total population officially belong to a Christian denomination, although most of them take no part in church life except at such events as weddings and funerals. The average church attendance is now one of the lowest in the world. The third largest religious identity in Germany is that of non-religious people, about 30% are officially religiously unaffiliated. In the former communist East are regions with unter 20% baptized Members (it's a very nice place for evangelicals to crusade I can highly commend!).

For the reality in the US I recommend "ABC News: Who's Counting: Distrusting Atheists".

martin

Responding to mark's comment: It is true of course that Anti-Americanism is limited to a smallish number of people, such as a subset of Spiegel's readers etc. Since, as I maintain, Anti-Americanism results from fears of or actual inferiority, it only applies to those that feel inferior, which most people don't. That some of those have big printing machines at their disposal or find themselves in other authoritarian positions makes the problem appear larger than it is.

About the bollocks of church and state: You surely won't deny that the abovementioned article is right there in the constitution, and fully enacted, I just checked the web site of a German public school that I went to ages ago and lo and behold, they are not ashamed of celebrating their umpteenth anniversary with a Christian church ceremony. This would make any American's (or French or other honestly secular citizen's) toenails curl up. As for the "firmly", if you've been following the coalition negotiations between say, SPD and Greens or SPD and CDU after this or that federal election, you'd have heard that many things are up for negotiation but the two things that parties always keep reassuring each other of is that the good old institutions of draft/conscription and religious education in schools will be kept firmly in place.

Koch

The knee-jerk anti-Americanism that occurs in the daily press or in Stammtisch discussions is one thing. That has always been a factor in German society. The "Raubtier-Kapitalismus" or the "Heuschrecken" debates are far more internal political signals than they are serious critique against the American system. These are as easy to dismiss as the same people's superficial opinions on capitalism, socialism, immigrants, etc.

I am much more unsettled and disquieted by another group. In the past few years I've witnessed a significant number of German friends, busines contacts and acquaintances, all of them generally sober, worldly, well-travelled, well-read, erudite, reflective, etc. turn much more anti-American. One of these - a partner in a German law firm - once expressed his gratitude to me as having directly benefitted from the Berlin Airlift. His family was more or less starving until the Americans - in their realpolitische but by no means necessary generosity - ensured that his parents had enough to eat. It's hard to change the opinions of someone with this type of visceral background.

Nonetheless - this person, as well as many others - point to the Middle East generally and to Iraq specifically as the situations and the incident in particular that have irreparably ruptured their view of the US in its present political and social constellation. Another friend - who has never been to Iraq - focusses on the damage done to Iraq's artistic, cultural and archeological fabric. In his view, war casualties come and go - the destruction of one of civilization's birthplaces disturbs him deeply. This aspect of the Iraq war - which, as he points out, is rarely ever acknowledged in the US media which he often reads - is deeply significant to him of the lack of perspective with which the US government has approached its recent foreign policy ventures. Other friends apply the same criticism to US support of Israel, or the Bush administration's breaching virtually every civil rights guarantee (nothing seems to disturb Europeans more than arbitrary detention and indeterminate confinement status).

Bush's reelection in 2004 confirms that such circumstances are of little concern to the majority of American voters. In 2003, people were still willing to chalk things up to a rogue administration. As of November 2004, the doubt in the entire present American project has grown. Hence the distrust, the resentment, the moving apart.

mark

to be honest, i couldn't bring myself to bring markovits' article in its full glory. he speaks of "such a vehement aversion to everything American" pretty early on, but scanning through the article i find no proof of such an allegation. germans watch american movies and tv shows, they listen to american music, they eat american(-style) food and drink american drinks and buy american clothes. and they're not really complaining about it. you see people everywhere wearing shirts that use american design/icons. yes, there is a debate about america and there is a lot of criticism towards some form of "americanization", as markovits rightly points out, but this is a call for respect of so-called german "values" (and usually comes from the same kind of circles, too) as much as it is a criticism of the americanness of some aspects of today's culture. oh, and that soccer-thing that markovits mentions is just silly. the majority of americans i have talked to think that soccer (properly called football, of course) is a stupid boring game for sissies and girls. but this is now the fault of the europeans? or the fault of the europeans that they object to this?

as to martin's comment that germany has the marriage of church and state "firmly written into the constitution", that's just bollocks. germany has what can be called "institutionalized religious pluralism" and protects religious expression. there is a substantial seperation of church and state, which is not a prohibition of cooperation between state and church/religious groups.

martin

Uh oh. Always remember, European, especially German post-war inferiority complexes and Anti-Americanism were and are closely related. David's Medienkritik's criticism is justified (see their arrangement of Spiegel cover sheets, truly baffling!), even though they are guilty for trying to sneak some right-ish propaganda into the valid criticism. A lot of criticism by the Anti-Americanists is correct, but the intention of voicing is to destract from one's own shortcomings. Such as Americans using something like 10 times their annual CO2-allotment, which conveniently distracts from the fact that Europeans are using something like 5 times theirs, with no intention of changing that whatsoever. Or the religious fundamentalism which conveniently distracts from the fact that Germany has the marriage of church and state firmly written into the constitution.

americalover

how often do you face anti-americanism in germany these days? be honest.

FJM

Noam Chomsky exposes "anti-nationism" as a biblical concept typically found in totalitarian discourse. Watch the interview here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5854018606313608966

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