As somebody who is daily in contact with people from every latitude, I believe a lot of this is due to the stereotypes that still guide most of our reciprocal dealings. Ask most Europeans and you will be told that all Americans are obese, uneducated and overly armed brutes bent not so much on world domination, but on covering the globe with asphalt and McDonald's drive-t(h)roughs. Ask most Americans and you will be told that Europeans are foppish imbecilles that would currently all speak German or Russian if not for the US intervention and that should give daily prayer to the US for teaching democracy to the world.Well put.
Needless to say, both views are wrong, but it is surprising how our perceptions are still shaped by these stereotypes. Take Saddam: Europeans see Bush as the sheriff shooting from the hip and asking questions later. Americans in turn see Europe as an anti-semitic continent bent on pampering Arab terrorist.
I am afraid we need some effort from both sides to improve understanding and go beyond the easy stereotypes. We have to remember that our divergences are still trivial compared to the values and the culture of democracy we share. Enemies of both would like nothing better than see us bitterly divided.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
The International Sentinel, the site that Carla Passino wrote the preceding commentary, actually includes an interesting entry from "Mooraq" about European and American differences:
Posted by Demosthenes at 11:59 PM