ONTD Political

Europhobia Is Only Getting Uglier

12:56 pm - 08/13/2009
I found this article from Newsweek to be very interesting and I just thought I'd share with the community.

by Michael Freedman

What's so bad about Europe? Consider: the EU has a lower infant-mortality rate than the U.S., with France among the lowest. The life expectancy for a boy born tomorrow in the United States is 78; in most of the European Union, he will live an extra year, and he gets another two if he is lucky enough to be born in France. As that boy becomes a man, he is more likely to spend his days in happiness, according to data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. His education, from grade school through university, will be essentially free. When he begins a job in allegedly socialist Europe he can work at one of the world’s leading firms, including three of the top oil companies (BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total), two of the top telecom companies (Nokia and Ericsson) and four of the world’s 10 biggest firms, as measured by sales. He will get more vacation, and have more time off to deal with medical issues and for paternity leave. Europeans report a lower rate of mental illness than Americans, and statistically speaking, those who become ill, whether physically or mentally, stand a greater chance of receiving treatment in Europe. As that man becomes elderly, his pension will be taken care of, too, by a state-funded program.

Yet ever since Barack Obama moved into the White House, the American right has accused him of turning the United States into Europe─a dangerous road considering that Europe, in this view, is full of “cowards” (Bill O'Reilly). Obama’s stimulus package was “the European Socialist Act of 2009” (Sean Hannity). Those who favor a new model for health care are part of an all-but-treasonous anti-American conspiracy to transform the United States into a "European social welfare state" (Rush Limbaugh).

Of course, this is not the first time Europhobia has reared its head. Justin Vaisse, a French scholar at the Brookings Institution, traces American Francophobia (Europhobia’s cousin) to the French Revolution. In a fascinating paper several years ago he described how the revolution “gave birth to the stereotype of an unstable and illiberal country and of a quarrelsome and restive people.” From there, Vaisse observes, Franco-American relations were marked by a series of turns that forever embedded in the American imagination the idea of France as “immoral, venal, anti-Semitic, arrogant, insignificant, and nostalgic for past glory. It is also elitist, dirty, lazy, and it is anti-American.” More recently, around the start of the Iraq War, the writer Timothy Garton Ash helpfully compiled a short list of all the terms used by right-wing commentators and politicians in the United States to describe Europe. “Eurinal,” “Euroids,” “Euroweenies,” and “Peens,” were among some of the choicest phrases.

Now Europhobia seems resurgent and stronger than ever. There is virtually nothing Obama can do these days that doesn't inspire one right-wing pundit or another to suggest he is really a European in disguise. In May, he and Joe Biden went out for a bite to eat at Ray's Hell Burger, a Washington, D.C., hamburger joint. The vice president ordered a cheeseburger with jalapeño peppers; the president ordered his with mustard─and not just any mustard. He asked for Dijon, an unpardonable sin that to the right reeked of effete European elitism. Soon after, Hannity and others attempted to smear the president as something less than a full-blooded American man for having the audacity to order something that originated in France and then popularized with a British voice in the famous commercials for Grey Poupon. Radio talker Laura Ingraham mused, "What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?"

It is getting much, much uglier. Perhaps realizing that Europe in fact has something to offer the United States─and recalling, perhaps, that the EU, whatever its flaws, remains the United States' greatest ally─Limbaugh is taking things a step further, back to a time when parts of Europe really were the enemy. On his radio program last week, Limbaugh compared all the ways Obama is like Adolf Hitler. "Obama is asking citizens to rat each other out like Hitler did," he said. "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate," he said. And so on. On Aug. 11, Fox News talk-show host Glenn Beck rolled footage of Nazis on the march and started tearing up when he compared America to Weimar Germany, arguing that with the United States on the way to economic collapse, the time could soon come when the government will decide that it can no longer afford to provide health care for the elderly and disabled. Just as the Nazis did.

All this obscures what's really under debate here: what kind of health-care system─and what kind of policies─will make America a stronger, more resilient, more prosperous nation. America is not going to become Europe, much less a fascist dictatorship. It will do things its own way. But dare anyone say there is virtue in at least considering how our allies do things─and even cherry-picking and adapting from the best that others have to offer? Earlier this year, the scholar Charles Murray gave an address to the American Enterprise Institute, in acceptance of the conservative think tank's most prestigious award, in which he warned that “the possibility that irreversible damage will be done to the American project over the next few years is real." His argument was that "the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish─it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness." That may be, but the demagoguery from many of his compatriots on the political right risk ignoring what modern Europe has to offer, all for the sake of some sort of ideological je ne sais quoi.

U.S. Hatred of Europe Gets Uglier

I never really understood why some Americans have such an unfavorable view of Europeans...especially when most of them have a) never been there but also b) have never met a person from Europe.
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celtic_thistle 13th-Aug-2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
I wish America WERE more like France. :( Or better yet, Sweden.
sylviarr 13th-Aug-2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
pageup 13th-Aug-2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
Europe is pretty damn great in most ways except for television programs.
serenity_winner 13th-Aug-2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
Lol at the super serious discussion of FUCKING MUSTARD, IT IS MUSTARD YOU GODDAMN LUNATICS.
fleur_de_mort 13th-Aug-2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
And tasty mustard, at that!
flowerings 13th-Aug-2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
While (Western) Europe has its crop of problems, I wish I born over on that side of the pond from time to time.
lisaee 13th-Aug-2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
I really don't get it. Especially the France hatred, I was there just last week and it's pretty bloody nice.

I just wish a certain lot of right-wingers would actually think before they spoke.
squidb0i 14th-Aug-2009 05:42 am (UTC)
If they did, they wouldn't be right wingers. ;]
moldycelery 13th-Aug-2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
Poor Europe :( People who hate on Europe make me sad, because they have such a rich cultural history and America has gotten a lot of her ideas from Europe.

On the other hand, blind worship of Europe isn't good either. Europe's good in many ways, but it's still incredibly racist and xenophobic (especially towards Muslims -- just look at France).
lickety_split 13th-Aug-2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
I've heard Italy's pretty bad on the racism too, especially towards black people.

On the other hand, blind worship of Europe isn't good either.

This one guy I know has a blind worship of Europe, but he's also someone who thinks that people are poor simply because they're lazy so...
properly_stored 13th-Aug-2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
Why would you hate the country who helped you become a country?
c_yo_yus 13th-Aug-2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
I know, right? They INVENTED Americans. Pfft.
meimichan 13th-Aug-2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
I've never understood why some Americans have such an unfavorable view of Europe considering how many of us have our fucking roots in Europe.

In my experience though, it's not most of us. Whenever I talk to anyone about where they'd travel to internationally given a chance, by far most will give a location that's somewhere in Europe.
youbeboy 13th-Aug-2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Ugh, LJ has been fucking with me all afternoon. My comment didn't post, so once again:

When I read things like this, I it takes me a moment to realize that I am not America. My initial reaction upon reading the title was, "Who hates Europe? I'd love to live in Europe!" Yet this doesn't surprise me; I peronally know Americans who've never left the region they live in, much less the country, that will tell you in a second that Europe is garbage and America is perfection.
eleveninches 13th-Aug-2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
I never understood this. I love Europe.
kangofu 13th-Aug-2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Fucking A.

I've wanted to move to France for years now. Need to finish Grad school and learn some French first.
onlyechoes 13th-Aug-2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
Europe has a lot of flaws but I truly am proud to be European and Finnish. This is ridiculous imo.
valkeakuulas 13th-Aug-2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
Me too! :) Suomi jee.
justbolognese 13th-Aug-2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Hello, I'm French. Please don't hate me, we're sorry we beheaded that guy a few centuries ago, he kinda deserved it.
baked_goldfish 13th-Aug-2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Forget the mustard, I'm still mad he ordered perfectly good burgers to be cooked medium-well.
justspaz 13th-Aug-2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm not justifying Europhobia, and I'm not an expert on international relations, so what I'm going to say is certainly up for constructive criticism.

I know that a lot of Americans dislike Europe because they feel that Europe is entirely Ameriphobic. Those on the right side of the picture, many of whom are in my family, dislike Europe solely because they believe that Europeans hate America. They have this view of Europeans, especially Western Europeans (most notably France) of being stuck up and holier than thou. And yes, many Americans are themselves this way, but the crux of the matter is the idea that a country or region usually has a great amount of disdain for areas outside of their particular region, like Americans hating the French or vice versa.

I'm not saying America is perfect and that all European countries deserve Europhobia because of the hatred they pour down on innocent little US of A. I'm just saying that many Americans, whether rightly or not, dislike Europe because they think Europe hates America. Wounded patriotism and that jazz.

This isn't a discussion of which place is better because of superior health care, GNP, cultural influence, or war successes. This is simply a case of supposedly mutual disdain.
c_yo_yus 13th-Aug-2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Europeans : I love you. I want to move there and become one of you. Europeans are great and they have better beer.
lizzy_someone 13th-Aug-2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
This. Conservatives are all ZOMG EUROPEAN SOCIALISM = EVIL, and I am like, Have you even looked at their infant mortality rates, life expectancies, literacy rates, poverty rates, etc.? Because they tend to outdo the U.S. So, you know, Evil European Socialism might be a good goal for us.
lizzy_someone 13th-Aug-2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
*(And by "outdo" I mean "be better than," which in some cases means higher and in some cases means lower.)
eyetosky 13th-Aug-2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
What's that?

People who are on socialized health care actually are credited with being able to live longer?

No Death Panels, you say?
ladytia 13th-Aug-2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
You know, I lived in Europe for three years and it was the best time I had in my life. I'm not denying that they have also have problems, but there was something about living there in contrast from the places I've lived here in the U.S. that was better.

When I first moved back to the U.S. the Europhobia was clear. I made a comment that I loved living there more than I had in Houston and Fort Hood and I had a teacher tell me, "Well move back there then!" and then proceed to talk shit about Europe and how the U.S. is perfect, blah, blah, blah.
abroadallmylife 13th-Aug-2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
I lived there for two and people asked me if I "ever wanted to move back." I often answered, "Yes, tomorrow if possible!" "What, it's not good enough for you here?"

I think it often boils down to people being intimidated by what they don't know.
redseeker 13th-Aug-2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Heyyy :(
scolaro 13th-Aug-2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
I never really understood why some Americans have such an unfavorable view of Europeans...especially when most of them have a) never been there but also b) have never met a person from Europe.

Actually I think these are the reasons, strange as it sounds. People tend to fear what they don't know. When you're young you may say "whatever, I'll just go there and see for myself", but not many people have interest or opportunity to do so. *shrugs*
It's - sadly - the way it is. (And of course this goes for all countries, not just the US.)
bloody_pickle 13th-Aug-2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
To me it seems like that views on Europe have become more polarized. People either want to burn it to the ground or they pretend it's some magical utopia.
iluvhistory 13th-Aug-2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
Any idea if this Europhobia has anything to do with how people say they're Canadians when they travel abroad because they assume that all Europeans hate Americans?
bellichka 13th-Aug-2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
I said I was American while traveling abroad and was besieged by angry Europeans. It works both ways.
gretchystretchy 13th-Aug-2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
I don't know much about mainland Europe, but I visited the UK for a month this summer and FELL IN LOVE. (My only complaints were the lack of Diet Dr. Pepper and Mexican food. XD)
veidt 13th-Aug-2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
I think the whole hating Europe thing (I refuse to say "Europhobia") has to do with them lacking in regards to free speech laws, gun laws and people's right to privacy (this last one goes triple for the UK). Hopefully we can get a really effective health care system in place, but I don't think Obama is the guy to do it. It won't be worth a shit as long as the pharmaceutical companies are lining people's pockets to get influence.
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