Given the happenings in Massachusetts and New York this past week, I had expected to blog more today on gay marriage. But, then again, I had expected to blog last week on the eHarmony lawsuit. For each story has much to do with the current situation of gays in America — and in our political system.
But, today after receiving an e-mail from a blog I enjoy, Davids MedienKritik-Online, which offers perhaps the best coverage of the anti-American bias in the European media, it struck me not only how that bias contributed to Europeans’ twisted views of our great nation abroad, but also how similar the attitudes of the European media elite were to attitudes I experienced in Europe approximately twenty years ago when I lived in (then-West) Germany and France. That good blog offers a must-see short two-part video report “on anti-Americanism in European media.”
In my post on the run-up to the French presidential election (won by the unashamedly pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy), I noted that while the “young French intellectuals . . . looked down on America . . ., young French professionals” were fascinated by America, “eager to learn” more about our nation and to associate with Americans. They looked up to the United States and wished their land were more like ours.
It was the élites who scorned us, often based on false images of — and inaccurate information about — our land. The report on Davids MedienKritik confirms that things haven’t much changed in Old Europe. As I learned about the latest European coverage of our homeland, it was as if I was hearing repeated the conversations I had had with European intellectuals and students from universities and secondary schools across the western sections of the continent.
One German high school student, while berating the United States for its involvement in Central America, heralded (à la Michael Moore) Cuba for its excellent health care system and vibrant economy. At least he acknowledged the political repression, but remarked that economic and social progress was more important than freedom. Without even touching his contention that Cuba had a sound economy, I commented that a German living fifty years previously could have used the same argument to justify the Nazi regime. That silenced him. And it stunned me he hadn’t made the connection until I brought it up.
Not long after my encounter with that young (and actually rather fetching) German (at the youth hostel in Perpignan), I met another German (not nearly as fetching) at the youth hostel in Verona. Stunned to learn my nationality after hearing me speak German, he naturally assumed that an American who could communicate in four languages would not have a very high opinion of the then-incumbent American president, Ronald Wilson Reagan.