Anti-Americanism and Anti-Europeanism

Written by  //  March 8, 2008  //  Americas, Europe & EU  //  No comments

Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen
A much-maligned continent
The decadent, doomed society portrayed in today’s popular anti-Europeanist literature exists only in the minds of certain North American conservatives
More than the conclusions, it is the methods of argumentation that expose anti-Americanism for the prejudice it is. There is the use of gross caricatures. Disregard for complexity and nuance. Trivial anecdotes treated as significant evidence. And most tellingly, flimsy or dubious facts are accepted without question if they damn the United States — while exculpatory evidence is harshly scrutinized or, more often, ignored.
When these methods are present, you can be sure that what you are reading is not rational criticism. It is irrational loathing. You can also be certain that what you are reading says far more about the author’s ideology and psychology than it does about the object of his disgust.
Using the same standard, it is quite clear that a similar prejudice — in many ways, the mirror image of anti-Americanism — is growing among North American conservatives. It is anti-Europeanism.
The invasion of Iraq brought us “freedom fries” and “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” but the prejudice beneath that silliness predated the war and it has only grown in the years since. It’s now so widespread that it’s difficult to find a discussion of Europe in conservative magazines or blogs that is not saturated with undisguised malice.
It’s also showing up on book shelves. There’s America Alone by columnist Mark Steyn. Menace in Europe by journalist Claire Berlinski. The West’s Last Chance by Tony Blankley, the former press secretary to Newt Gingrich. And now, just released, there is Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow Motion Suicide, by Bruce Thornton.
As with most prejudices, anti-Europeanism contains grains of truth. Europe really is struggling with demographics and costly social welfare. It’s also hard to disagree that Europeans have been free-riding on American military spending. And even the most cosseted bureaucrat in Brussels would acknowledge that delusion and hypocrisy are present in at least some aspects of European thinking. … accuracy isn’t terribly important in a book like this. Thornton is a Believer writing for other Believers. Like anti-Americans, anti-Europeans already know The Truth. Facts are strictly for decoration.

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