Hands Across the Water

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.

The first thing that happens to an American when he travels to Europe and makes friends with someone is that he gets lectured. Topics include:

  • 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.

30 thoughts on “Hands Across the Water

  1. From All of Us
    To All of You

    – Please accept our apologies!

    Baron, I am sure you are in the best of positions to see how the leftist indoctrination system all those years has worked in Europe against the USA. Great post. Sometimes you’ve got to say things out loud.

    Sad to be witnessing up close this hate-project against the USA. Looking back today, makes you see this even more clear. How easily people have been manipulated on a daily basis for more than forty years.

    Sincerely, modestly, on behalf of Europe!

  2. Anon @ 12:21 pm —

    Actually, it’s not that bad. Not enough of a reason to put me off Europe, which I love.

    It’s like having a good friend who sometimes picks his nose without realizing he’s doing it. It might have disturbed you at first, but after a while you got used to it, and now you never even notice it.

    And Americans have their own obnoxious ways. But so does Each European culture — it’s just a different kind of obnoxiousness.

    Let’s celebrate our obnoxious diversity!

  3. Baron … The first thing that happens to an American when he travels to Europe and makes friends with someone is that he gets lectured.”

    No kidding. It’s like hey, I like you, but you Americans are to isolated (and to dumb) to know what is really going on. So, I’m going to educate you, and in so doing enlighten you to see the truth of it. And I then expect you will embrace that truth and agree with me.

    Uh, huh.

  4. 😉

    What could be better now than to sing hold hands and sing “We Shall Overcome”…?

    – Ooops….”We shall live in peace some day”. That’s not “Peace” as in submission, he’s singing about, I hope, Pete Seeger?

  5. The media look for the stereotypes they want to show the public.

    Even though “palestinians” are at the top of obese people in the world, both for men, and women, talking about obese, the media will look up some American, and at the same time show how bad Americans really are, building and rebuilding the bad image they want to show you.

    You hardly see any normal Americans in European media.

    Let’s support your initiative, Baron, keeping good relations and encouraging good behaviour between us across The Pond.

    1221 PM

  6. Then on the other hand that would sorely like to live in America. It’s incredibly depressing being stateside then coming home. Every aspect of life in America is superior than the way of life here. It’s hopefully a dream of mine to find a small picturesque small town in the heart of the greatest nation on earth

  7. You’re correct Anonymous 12:50 PM. While in France, I saw the news shows give an almost daily dose of anti-Americanism. They would go out of their way to find the most ridiculous facet of American culture, then portray that as being thoroughly mainstream.

    My point being that when you grow up being fed that on a daily basis (especially when most media outlets are state owned), I can understand that it would be quite hard for Europeans to get past the propaganda. It applies here in America as well.

  8. The attitude of Europeans to Americans is quite easy to understand, and it’s resentment.

    For over two and a half millennia Europe was, for all intents and purposes, the centre of the world; it defined totally what was meant by the word: Civilization.

    Some 70 years ago this centre of gravity began to shift dramatically and rapidly to the West, and Europeans have psychologically never come to terms with the reality of their loss of influence and power.

    Deep down they resent the “new” up-start being global top dog, and simply cannot face the fact that Europe is likely to be, as this century progresses, an increasingly irrelevant and economically non-functioning backwater descending into Balkanish intra-demographic conflict.

    Put simply: the first instinct of the drowning man is to pull down the rescuer.

    Being quite the merry old soul today, aren’t I?

  9. As an American and Italian citizen, I have to say I simply have not shared your experiences (though I don’t doubt them either). Wherever I go in Europe, I am Italian; this will never be erased. But I often travel with groups of Americans for work or leisure, and I just have not picked up on the enmity you seem to be describing. Maybe it’s generational?

    Since Obama took office, what I have seen is the younger generation being very pro-American for no other reason that they like Obama. Those of my generation and older ones seem to resent the American presence in pop-culture and the military bases that still dot the continent long after the need for NATO. But as far as how Americans behave, that is simply an old-timey stereotype that pretty much died out in the ’90’s. These days it is the British/Aussies/Kiwis who have the worse reputations (in that order).

  10. Good points made there, and I do agree with your basic intentions. And I wished we could include russians here as well.

    I used to be one of those you describe so vividly myself, but much of this tendency has subsided in the course of the decades.

    Still, one reason for rough european (re-) actions could be that we (I think I can word it this way) often feel americans quite rough themselves, so a tit-for-tat component might be a part of it.

    Michael Laudahn

  11. I’m bang in the middle of the GoV demographics, apparently: 47 with a BA. So maybe my experience is typical?

    Anyhow, with that said: When I was growing up America was the bees knees, absolutely no question about that. The “elder” generations knew what a world war meant, and they knew what America had done to help us during WWII. We all liked American music, TV programmes, writers, etc.

    After 9/11 a sea change began. America as the most Christian country on earth, and the one which supported Israel the most too, was of course going to be targeted.

    The world is trending towards evil. Values are devalued, morality is non-existent, our very language is being poisoned by the code words and precepts of the evil that now walks the earth. It is being made impossible to even speak the truth, to make moral statements – the very effort to do that which is good is declared evil; this tide is washing us nearer and nearer to some catastrophic series of events, and all those who are causing it will of course turn round and blame those who are trying to stop it. Hatred of America (and that is what it is) is just one aspect of a larger movement – a movement towards “the days of Noah”.

  12. Qualis Rex said…“Since Obama took office, what I have seen is the younger generation being very pro-American for no other reason that they like Obama. Those of my generation and older ones seem to resent the American presence in pop-culture and the military bases that still dot the continent long after the need for NATO.

    True. I’ve experienced this also.

    However, “the need for NATO”, specifically U.S. bases in Europe, is something driven by what European nations want. The U.S. would removed these bases if the host nations asked us to.

    But then all the financial support for local communities would cease, and would probably bankrupt most of the local communities.

    Ironically (maybe tragically for Europe) one of the greatest contributors to the European Economies and local tax bases are U.S. Military bases.

    Argh… And in the face of the current Euro-depression, removing U.S. bases would bankrupt an entire continent.

  13. Have I ever? Apart from, perhaps picking my nose without realising I was doing do? SIII.

  14. Exactly, Peregrin Took

    This is systematically. They have their script, and need to find persons to fit into this script. People who only see this day in and day out, with the “confirming” comments from the authorized state commentators, start to believe that “this is America”.

    All it takes is some critical mind, to find that what they give you is not the real America. But it sure is scary how masses are being manipulated like this. Today, when we do have access to any kind of information.

    Pierre Picaud says
    “…simply cannot face the fact that Europe is likely to be, as this century progresses, an increasingly irrelevant and economically non-functioning backwater descending into Balkanish intra-demographic conflict.”

    – I am afraid they are so self-centered that they don’t even realize this. They even still feel that Europe is the center, and couldn’t even imagine the world otherwise.

    Qualis Rex

    – The Obama fascination is easily explained. He is anti-American and so are the leftist media, so their “Change” campaign in Europe has lured the same anti-American Europeans into now turning pro-Obama. It is now salonfähig to like the Obama USA while at the same time being anti-American.

    Anonymous 12:50 PM

  15. I quote from one of Fjordman’s great essays:

    “Contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe (at least when coming from native Europeans) is related to anti-Americanism. People who are not prepared to resist and are eager to submit, hate others who do not want to submit and are prepared to fight. They hate them because they are afraid that the latter will endanger their lives as well. In their view everyone must submit.

    This is why they have come to hate Israel and America so much, and the small band of European “islamophobes” who dare to talk about what they see happening around them. West Europeans have to choose between submission (islam) or death. I fear, like Broder, that they have chosen submission – just like in former days when they preferred to be red rather than dead.”


    Isn’t european antiamericanism mainly the product of the eurabian project? Older generations may of course have other reasons, but the contemporary antiamericanism is perhaps of a different kind. Anon at 5/18/2012 12:21 PM is right, it’s the leftist indoctrination, and that’s why many young people may like obama. I bet their love for America will fade once Romney is elected. It’s a natural reaction to the massive brainwashing. Few of the younger generations see what hides behind the RED curtain, the bulk embrace passionately the occupy movements. It’s very disappointing. The Piratenpartei in Germany, which is linked to Cohn-bendit, has also many young members. Tragic. Very tragic…

    France is of course antiamerican, after all, the eurabian project was the brainchild of a french, and France is the most anticapitalist nation on earth. The whole point of the eurabian business was to distance as much as possible from America.

    The west should put aside their childish quarrels and show unity when the enemy is so powerful. Time may come to solve them once the threat has diminished.

  16. Hi Dymphna. Just read that article you linked, and frankly it’s a piece of anti-European rubbish. The commenters there are overwhelmingly contemptuous of the author’s “research” as well, many doubting that he’s ever even been to the old continent at all.

    Just like the Baron is rightly pointing out the irrational, kneejerk anti-Americanism of many Europeans, this article is a testament to its mirror image, braindead American anti-Europeanism. It gets really old really quick hearing about how our cousins across the pond are nothing but a pack of socialist anti-Semites quickly circling the drain.

    The sound was deafening as these kids honked their horns, screamed, sang songs, and waved flags. Did they care about traffic? Nope.

    Golly gosh, young people blocking traffic after an election would NEVER happen in the good ole USA (Just wait and see what American “youths” get up to after Obama loses this November).

    Instead, the BIG STORY in the French elections was the fact that the hard right, anti-Euro, anti-immigration party, the Front National Party, or NFP, took the most votes from French youth.

    The Front National isn’t known as the NFP, but the FN (duh).

    When it came time to vote in round one, more French youth voted for a party whose leader wants to break up the Euro, who wants to deal with immigration by kicking out any immigrant who cannot adhere to French principles or who commits a crime, and who once compared the legal French tolerance of Muslims praying in the streets to putting up with Nazi occupation.

    This is supposed to be a bad thing??? Why?

    Put another way, France could become a Nationalistic, anti-EU nation in the not so distant future.

    Heaven forfend!

    Now, Greece cannot even form a majority in its parliament. In fact, by the look of things there will be a run-off elction in mid-June in which the ANTI-BAILOUT Syriza party will win the majority.

    The Syriza party MIGHT come in first place, with around 20% of the vote, but no party will come close to winning a majority.

    Make no mistake, the situation in Europe is bad… How BAD? Well, France, Spain, and Germany have ALL implemented border controls.

    Baloney. France instituted TEMPORARY border controls during the North African migration crisis, that’s it.

    Why are they doing this? Because they know that when the stuff hits the fan and the EU collapses (which it will in the next few months) people are going to attempt to flee with their money… so they have made it so that no one can get it… and no one can get out.

    The EU will collapse in the next few months, eh? Europeans won’t be able to access their money or leave the continent, eh? This guy must have done his “research” in the Bulldog Cafe in Amsterdam.

    This report is 100% FREE.

    And worth every cent, ha ha ha.

  17. I first realized this American bashing when reading Bruce Bauer’s “While Europe Slept”. That’s when I started falling in love with America, its exceptionalism, its grandiosity and steadfastness in defense of freedom. After reading that book I finally understood what it is to be on the right side of things, how important freedom is and how we must be uncompromising in its defense. Now I feel quasy whenever some smartypants attacks America… as if anybody else had done what America has in its relatively short history.

  18. Obama’s fashionable at the moment. wait till he goes out of fashion, then it’ll all start up again.

    But it’s true, at the moment us Anglos come in for more stick from the continent than the US, though I suspect it’s not seen that way. We’re… clowns. I think that’s how they see it. Prancing around with our stiff upper lips and our bowler hats and our fu… failure of a leader Cameron who likes to lecture European leaders on things they already know and preen about how special and important he is.

    Actually that might just be my own prejudices showing through. 🙂

  19. Baron, reflexive anti-Americanism is not like having a friend who picks his nose all the time so you get used to it. It’s like having a so-called friend who picks your nose all the time, tsk tsking about your bad hygiene. Europeans pride themselves on being cultured. If that includes basic good manners then they are not very cultured. What cultured host makes his guests feel uncomfortable by pointing out all their shortcomings? All the more incongruous when the guests have saved the host’s bacon twice. Europeans look down their noses at those they consider beneath them and that includes pretty well everyone. Strangely supercilious attitude for people who have caused two World Wars and had to be fished out of their self-made messes. You’d think they would be a little chastened, a little diffident, but no. Arrogant as ever. Those Welfare goodies they’ve treated themselves to and sneer at Americans for providing less of were partly made possible by America’s picking up their defense tab. Granted it was foolish of Uncle Sam to keep supporting the ungrateful deadbeat, but who’s more at fault here? The over-generous patsy or the querulous taker who bites the hand that feeds him? I say all this as someone of European heritage who thinks it’s still true, that if you’ve lost your wallet on the bus, your best bet for help is if an American is sitting next to you, not a European who thinks your problems are your own but his problems should be yours.

  20. Hebes – Italians in general are anti-Israel but not because they are pro-Mohammedan. Once again, there are only TWO official mosques in Italy…and that is for a reason. Italians tend to side with Palestinians for two reasons: 1) the PLO was allied to the Red Brigade and atheist/anarchists groups in the 60’s and 70’s; so the left-leaning side with them 2) Israel has created a negative environment for the Palestinian Christian community (I used to be very pro-Israel after living years in the US, but after I stayed there I now have no love for their policies and the treatment I experienced first hand at all).

    In both cases, the Italians you met were not siding with Mohammedanism. The more you talk about your “experiences” in Italy, the more I think you really didn’t have many friends there.

  21. The image of someone else leaning across the table & picking your nose isn’t very appealing, I have to say.

    A slight improvement on someone leaning over and scratching your balls for you, unbidden, mind you … that would be rather uncouth.

  22. “there are only TWO official mosques in Italy…”


    Italy: Mosques Springing Up like Mushrooms”:

    “…in Italy, there are now an estimated 500 mosques in the country, in addition to thousands of informal Islamic prayer centers and Koranic schools…”

    And more than half of them “have reached an agreement to create a new umbrella organization, the Italian Islamic Confederation (CII)” based from Morocco.

    In addition, a mega-mosque is being planned for Bologna, though not without opposition.

  23. Mr. Hebes:

    I will recap what I said to another commenter on a different post.

    This nonsense about “censorship” keeps cropping up, despite my earnest and repeated attempts to eradicate it. I will repeat myself yet again:

    “Censorship” cannot possibly occur here, because this is NOT a public forum.

    This is a private forum, the virtual equivalent of our living room. You and others are invited into the room to enjoy tea and sarnies with your hosts. But if you become rowdy or pugnacious, you may be ejected. The judgment of whether ejection is necessary resides with Dymphna and myself, and no one else.

    This is not censorship, because you remain free to establish your own blog and say what you wish to say there.

    Read the guidelines for commenters, as referred to in this blog’s comments form. You’ll see this reminder:

    “The most important thing to remember about the rules is this: The determination of whether any comment is in compliance is at the sole discretion of this blog’s owners.

    “This may seem unfair, but there is a good reason for the tightening of our standards. We are now under close scrutiny by hostile observers who are eager to find a pretext for shutting this blog down.

    “The consequences of a mistake are different for commenters than they are for the blog’s owners. You, the irritated commenter, may suffer the inconvenience of having your comment fail to appear here and be forced to post it at another site, or have it go unread.

    “We, on the other hand, face the possible closure of Gates of Vienna if the language appearing on our site is inappropriate. When our choice is between irritating a would-be commenter or having our blog closed, it’s no contest.”

  24. Hemes – that info is utterly false. Quoting info “from the internet” (i.e. someone’s blog) as fact is not only poor scholarship but sets a seriously low level of discourse for ANY blog. As stated, there are only two OFFICIAL mosques in Italy, located in Rome and Milan (Segrate). There is a third sanctioned for use in Palermo, which is “on loan” to the community there (I have been there; it is a former church that was bombed beyond repair from the WWII allied bombardment).

    I also mentioned previously that there ARE a lot more unofficial places used unofficially as mosques (i.e. “Islamic centers” Qur’anic schools” etc). But to say there are 500 mosques (i.e. buildings that have been built with permits from the government for use as such) is so blatantly false that it defies reason. And frankly, it makes me question whether the person making such claims is capable of doing the least amount of research or verification on the subject.

  25. My apologies, as that previous post was meant for Hesperado, and not Hebes.

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