I’ve been working closely with Europeans virtually every day for the past six years. Because I had lived there forty years ago, I already had a soft spot for Western Europe. Taking up this hobby in my sunset years has been like renewing an old acquaintance.
I’ve discovered that American culture doesn’t differ from that of a Western European country any more than, say, Danish culture differs from French culture. What we have in common far outweighs our differences, so that working together should be the most natural thing in the world. However, a longstanding tradition of mutual antagonism sometimes gets in the way of smooth transatlantic relations.
I had a conversation this morning with a good European friend about the growing strain in American-European relations. The exchange went something like this:
|Euro:||I’m concerned that the Americans are becoming more isolationist. This causes me great frustration.|
|Baron:||It’s the “We saved Europe’s a** twice, why should we bother again?” syndrome. Europeans make it worse, of course, by being so reflexively anti-American.|
|Euro:||But it’s also: “What do we care about Europe in general?”|
|Baron:||Yes, it is. But the European antagonism towards us is palpable.|
|Euro:||No thanks to the EU — and others, of course.|
|Baron:||True. If I hadn’t lived with it all the time forty years ago, it would probably put me off doing this work. But I got used to it — it’s just part of the environment, like smog.|
- American foreign policy
- American pop culture
- American tastes in food (or lack thereof)
- How awfully Americans behave
- How strange their religious mania is
- Etc. etc.
The critique is generally well-meaning. But it’s not really very polite, when you come right down to it.
I’ve been subjected to such lectures numerous times, even when talking with Counterjihad people — that is, Europeans who think well of me, who have become my friends. They don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s reflexive, like breathing.
It’s just what one does when talking to Americans. One explains to them the error of their vulgar and thoughtless ways.
It’s a favorite European pastime — just as sneering at Europe is a favorite American pastime.
The point of this post is to help overcome our mutual antagonism and bring American and European perspectives closer to each other. I consider this an absolute necessity in my line of work.
Therefore, I ask commenters to exercise self-restraint and keep the Euro-bashing or America-bashing to a minimum. Such, after all, is what I am striving to overcome.