I’m no fan of the ‘American model’ whether it comes to politics, the economy or especially their social system (if one can use such a term). After all, as a European democratic socialist, it would be odd if I didn’t find the North European social democracies a more appealing way of living and working. I’ve always rolled my eyes every time a US president (whether Democrat or Republican) tells us that “the American way is the best way” or that they live in the “greatest democracy in the world”.
I’m even less of a fan of what America exports to Europe in terms of their wretched junk food, their Hollywood trash, lame pop music and linguistic innovations. I find it amusing that anti-Bush columnists or politicians feel the need to clear their throats by telling us how much they love America or wish it would “return to being the country they once loved”. There is very little about that country, beyond its natural beauty, that has ever appealed to me. This goes someway to explaining why I have never made the effort to travel to it. My attitude to travel is probably very similar to that vast swathe of America that doesn’t have a passport – there is so much to see here at home in Europe after all.
Should I now confirm my ignorance and prejudice by pointing out that some of my best friends are American?
Anyway, the point is not to make a Maoist style self-criticism about my attitude towards America but merely to make sure you know that when I criticise Europe and compare it unfavourably with the US (as I am about to do) I do so as someone who is a proud to be a European and certainly no partisan of the laughably termed ‘special relationship’.
But since the US election a fantastical picture of that country has been painted which portrays it as a state in danger from deeply reactionary forces while much of Europe smugly views itself as the last bastion of civilised, tolerant liberal democracies.
I’d just ask that when black sportsmen in the Superbowl have to put up with monkey noises and other racist taunts , let me know.
(You can also let me know when one of their leading sports teams are taken over by a rather dubious Russian billionaire and the response of the press is merely to wonder which star players his club will now purchase).
Remind me when a member of an American family which enjoys great unearned wealth and influence and not insignificant unelected constitutional import, the son of a woman who is the unelected head of state due to an accident of birth, has the American media in a tizzy about his ludicrous fantasies about modern education methods (of which he has zero experience).
When a billionaire president of the United States is elected despite being on trial for corruption and fraud and then goes on to change the laws so as to un-invent those crimes, let me know. (Also let me know when the president controls the six main television networks in the States and when ‘uncooperative’ journalists then lose their jobs)
When the US presidential election provides a choice between a conservative and an anti-immigrant, holocaust-denying fascist let me know.
Give me a shout when a liberal US newspaper on a weekly basis portrays the elected leader of a European country as a monkey.
When the American public are dumb enough to believe fantasies and conspiracy theories about major world events, including believing the government of a democracy would choose to allow 3,000 of its own civilians to die a horrible death, let me know. (And yes I know some of them believe Saddam was involved in 9-11 but that is still an infinitely more believable fantasy than believing Bush or the CIA did it).
Also let me know when in the US there is an alarming rise in attacks on mosques and synagogues (and the people who attend them) and when leading conservative politicians talk publicly about deporting people due to their beliefs.
In other words, while the European left winds itself up into a fantastical hysteria about the rampage of reaction in the United States might it not be the case that they are in danger of ignoring the things that need sorting out in our own common home?