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May 31, 2008

John Adams must be smiling in heaven

The Telegraph observes European anti-Americanism, describes America as a force for good and somehow concludes Americans need to project a better image in Europe. Americans - most likely inbound from Instapundit - respond in the comments. One of my favourites.

I'm always slightly amused by these inane popularity polls. Anyone who knows just a bit of the history of this country knows that our forefathers thought very little of Europeans. Europeans were considered as corrupt and effeminate (little has changed in 232 years). America was by design the "anti-Europe." The fact that Europeans hate us today means we are doing something right. John Adams must be smiling in heaven.

I also liked another comment back-handing Canada for its "phony niceness".

Posted by Ghost of a flea at May 31, 2008 05:23 AM


Fake polite? What the.. Well, I'll have to thank them publicly for their opinion. Nice of them to point it out to us, thanks guy! Here let me hold the door for you.

Posted by: Gorthos [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 07:45 AM

The question is not "Why do they hate us"? but "Why do we keep forgetting they have hated us for centuries?"

Europe’s attitudes towards the U.S. are by no means recent.

“This quote is from a book called "Memoranda During The War" by Walt Whitman. It is a compilation of his notes from about 3 years worth of visits to War hospitals in and around Washington D.C. from 1862 - 1865. Toward the end he inserts some interesting political commentary (mixed in with a variety of topics) that sounds as if it could have been written today. Here's the piece:

Attitude of Foreign Governments toward the U.S. during the War of 1861-'65 -

"Looking over my scraps, I find I wrote the following during 1864, or the latter part of '63: The happening to our America, abroad as well as at home, these years, is indeed most strange. The Democratic Republic has paid her to-day the terrible and resplendent compliment of the united wish of all the nations of the world that her Union should be broken, her future cut off, and that she should be compell'd to descend to the level of kingdoms and empires ordinarily great!

"There is certainly not one government in Europe but is now watching the war in this country, with the ardent prayer that the united States may be effectually split, crippled, and dismember'd by it. There is not one but would help toward that dismemberment, if it dared. I say such is the ardent wish to-day of England and of France, as governments, and of all the nations of Europe, as governments. I think indeed it is to-day the real, heart-felt wish of all the nations of the world, with the single exception of Mexico--Mexico, the only one to whom we have ever really done wrong, and now the only one who prays for us and for our triumph, with genuine prayer.

"Is it not indeed strange? America, made up of all, cheerfully from the beginning opening her arms to all, the result and justifier of all, of Britain, Germany, France, and Spain - all here - the accepter, the friend, hope, last resource and general house of all - she who has harm'd none, but been bounteous to so many, to millions, the mother of strangers and exiles, all nations - should now I say be paid this dread compliment of general governmental fear and hatred?...

"....Are weindignant? alarm'd? Do we feel wrong'd? jeopardized? No; help'd, braced, concentrated, rather.

"We are all too prone to wander from ourselves, to affect Europe, and watch her frowns and smiles.

"We need this hot lesson of general hatred, and henceforth must never forget it. Never again will we trust the moral sense nor abstract friendliness of a single government of the world.

Posted by: Jim in Texas [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 05:12 PM

Heh. It's always amused me that for being so hated and reviled by the rest of the world our borders are innundated with people trying to get in. Green-eyed envy, unfortunately, is a powerful force in world politics today.

Posted by: Orion [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 07:08 PM

After WW II, Charles de Gaulle demanded that all American forces leave France.

Eisenhower replied, Ok but it's going to take some time for us to disinter the American soldiers buried in France.

Posted by: paul [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 07:11 PM

Thank you for providing the perfect example.
Why it's a though you yourself were Canadian.

Posted by: Stephen_M [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 07:28 PM


Posted by: Stephen_M [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 07:30 PM

You do realize that in a flame war situations Canadians will just become more polite? :-)

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 08:01 PM

Europe doesn't bother me. What does bother me is the number of people here, particularly in the news media and the Democratic Party who worry about what Europeans think of us. A leader can't lead if he's constantly pandering to his allies, particularly when most of them have been allowing themselves to become weak, while relying on the leader for protection. This is what's wrong with our State Department: too much U.N. thinking, by which I mean that we keep trying to pretend that we're just one among equals while we're paying most of the freight. I appreciate those nations who have stood with us in Iraq, and I'm happy to honor them, but I wouldn't hesitate to cut off support for nations and NGOs who are doing all they can to undermine us.

Posted by: AST [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2008 10:02 PM

I must admit, when I was in Grade 8-9, I went to the Bahamas with my parents and hung out with a very nice well to do girl from Long Island and a whack of other kids, all American. I held the door for the girls and they stopped dead. They thought that something was wrong with the door and I was checking it out for some reason. When I explained that no, I was simply holding it for them and letting them go ahead of me (they being female), they giggled and went through and spent the rest of the day noting how polite I was. The guys on the other hand just started to ignore then finally openly dislike me.

(Mental note made at 14: Being excessively Polite gets you the girls)

You see we may live just north of the US, but we actually all strive to be proper British folk as per our majority lineage. Heck, most of us when asked "what are you?" say Irish, British, French, English, Scottish etc. Rarely do we say "Canadian" unless it is preceded by our original family place of residence as in "Belgian Canadian". So in truth, we are mostly just a polite rather well to do northern colony of Europe who watch BritComs..

My apologies. Did I ramble? Here, let me get you a lemon scented napkin..you seem to be drooling my American friend.

Posted by: Gorthos [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 1, 2008 09:37 AM


Never, ever make the appalling mistake of assuming that persons from New York are representative of all Americans. Any young man from the American South (other than the purest of white trash or somebody from the utterly dysfunctional inner-city welfare culture) was raised to hold open the door for ladies; any of us who subsequently traveled to the Northeast had an experience very similar to yours.

I (a redneck from the southeastern Oklahoma hills) had been at Princeton for about two weeks when I absent-mindedly held the door open for a lady who was arriving at a store just as I was. I was treated to an unblushingly profane harangue about what a sexist [fill in bad words of your choice here] I was and how she was perfectly physically capable of opening a door for her own self.

Welcome to New Jersey! But, as I say, not all of America is Long Island and New Jersey.

Posted by: RedncekPeril [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 1, 2008 12:13 PM

When I was in North Carolina for a family camp a little kid came up to me at breakfast. He couldn't talk yet and I assumed the cute, typically spoiled modern day kid wanted to finish off my fries but someone that knew him explained - he was asking if he could take my plate to the dishwashers. The southrons have got something pretty special down there.

Posted by: Robbie [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 1, 2008 04:16 PM

"phony niceness" - Interesting in light of my having just spent a weekend south of the border. It was determined that while people there seem to be friendlier overall (although the guy who approached us at the diner to ask about the laptop wasn't friendly so much as curious), service and retail workers were more polite this side of the border (and that includes the border guards).

Posted by: cm [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 2, 2008 03:19 PM