The Hudson Review | Bruce Bawer

"Hating America"

There is a long piece in The Hudson Review by Bruce Bawer. He's an American who moved to Europe, where he decided that Europe was the real font of civilization:

Living in turn in the Netherlands, where kids come out of high school able to speak four languages, where gay marriage is a non-issue, and where book-buying levels are the world’s highest, and in Norway, where a staggering percentage of people read three newspapers a day and where respect for learning is reflected even in Oslo place names ("Professor Aschehoug Square"; "Professor Birkeland Road"), I was tempted at one point to write a book lamenting Americans' anti-intellectualism -- their indifference to foreign languages, ignorance of history, indifference to academic achievement, susceptibility to vulgar religion and trash TV, and so forth. On point after point, I would argue, Europe had us beat.
The next several pages are devoted to explaining how he recovered his love of his native country, and what he's come to believe about Europe. Following that, he talks about the post-9/11 world.
Over time, then, these things came into focus for me. Then came September 11. Briefly, Western European hostility toward the U.S. yielded to sincere, if shallow, solidarity ("We are all Americans"). But the enmity soon re-established itself (a fact confirmed for me daily on the websites of the many Western European newspapers I had begun reading online). With the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it intensified. Yet the endlessly reiterated claim that George W. Bush "squandered" Western Europe's post-9/11 sympathy is nonsense. The sympathy was a blip; the anti-Americanism is chronic.
The piece goes on to look at a number of recent books written on the topic of US-European relations, and to give some thoughtful opinions on the subject. It is quite long, but I recommend it to anyone who wishes to spend a little while reading a reasoned and interesting article.

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