David at Dialog International has an interesting review of a new book by Anrei S. Markovits, Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, The book is called “Amerika, Dich hasst sich’s besser” (America, it’s easier to hate you) and tries to give the popular recent Bush-related European “anti-americanism” (and anti-semitism) some historical context. Apparently, the core arguments of Mr Markovits’ book are available to English readers in this Harvard European Studies working paper.
I haven’t read the paper yet, so I will only say that I find the – recently often heard – comparison of the European left’s anti-Americanism with its (possibly anti-semitic) anti-zionism not too compelling beyond the not too surprising realization that many on the left have an inherent bias to morally favor the weak over the strong (although it’s certainly possible to believe that the “power”-argument is simply masking old-style anti-semitism – “what Daniel Goldhagen so aptly calls the Shylock Jew (which is unacceptable in contemporary Europe) to the Rambo Jew (a highly legitimate perception).” (p13)
You should read Dialog International’s review for a bit more detail, but let me just note that Mr Markovits’ claim thats “anti-Americanism had been perhaps the only prejudice in Europe which correlated positively with the respondents? level of education and social position” (p14) is interesting not just because this does further weaken his anti-semitism comparison, but also because he claims that the opposite is true with respect to American anti-Europeanism, which is – if at all – a phenomenon of the lower social strata. According to Mr Markovits’ “‘European’ invariably invokes positive tropes among Americans (elites and mass alike) such as ‘quality,’ ‘class,’ ‘taste,’ and ‘elegance,’ be it in food, comfort, tradition, romance, eroticism (as in European massage, European decor, European looks and the list can go on). … The risible ‘freedom fries’ had zero traction in any segment of American society.” (p5)
“[i]n fact, the predominant American popular attitude toward Europe is probably mildly benign indifference, mixed with impressive ignorance. I traveled around Kansas for two days asking people I met: “If I say ‘Europe’ what do you think of?” Many reacted with a long, stunned silence, sometimes punctuated by giggles. Then they said things like “Well, I guess they don’t have much huntin’ down there” (Vernon Masqua, a carpenter in McLouth); “Well, it’s a long way from home” (Richard Souza, whose parents came from France and Portugal); or, after a very long pause for thought, “Well, it’s quite a ways across the pond” (Jack Weishaar, an elderly farmer of German descent). If you said “America” to a farmer or carpenter in even the remotest village of Andalusia or Ruthenia, he would, you may be sure, have a whole lot more to say on the subject.
Certainly. And maybe even more when I have read the paper (or the book).