This year, especially if the United States goes to war against Iraq, you will doubtless see more articles in the American press on “Anti-Americanism in Europe.” But what about anti-Europeanism in the United States? Consider this:
To the list of polities destined to slip down the Eurinal of history, we must add the European Union and France’s Fifth Republic. The only question is how messy their disintegration will be.
(Mark Steyn, Jewish World Review, May 1, 2002)
Even the phrase “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” is used [to describe the French] as often as the French say “screw the Jews.” Oops, sorry, that’s a different popular French expression.
(Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online, July 16, 2002)
Or, from a rather different corner:
“You want to know what I really think of the Europeans?” asked the senior State Department Official. “I think they have been wrong on just about every major international issue for the past 20 years.”
(Quoted by Martin Walker, UPI, November 13, 2002)
Statements such as these recently brought me to the United States—to Boston, New York, Washington, and the Bible-belt states of Kansas and Missouri—to look at changing American attitudes toward Europe in the shadow of a possible second Gulf war. Virtually everyone I spoke to on the East Coast agreed that there is a level of irritation with Europe and Europeans higher even than at the last memorable peak, in the early 1980s.
Pens are dipped in acid and lips curled to pillory “the Europeans,” also known as “the Euros,” “the Euroids,” “the ‘peens,” or “the Euroweenies.” Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Policy Board, says Europe has lost its “moral compass” and France its “moral fiber.”1 This irritation extends to the highest levels of the Bush administration. In conversations with senior administration officials I found that the phrase “our friends in Europe” was rather closely followed by “a pain in the butt.”
The current stereotype of Europeans is easily summarized. Europeans are wimps. They are weak, petulant, hypocritical, disunited, duplicitous, sometimes anti-Semitic and often anti-American appeasers. In a word: “Euroweenies.”2 Their values and their spines have dissolved in a lukewarm bath of multilateral, transnational, secular, and postmodern fudge. They spend their euros on wine, holidays, and bloated welfare states instead of on defense. Then they jeer from the sidelines while the United States does the hard and dirty business of keeping the world safe for Europeans. Americans, by contrast, are strong, principled defenders of freedom, standing tall in the patriotic service of the world’s last truly sovereign nation-state.
A study should be written on the sexual imagery of these stereotypes. If anti-American Europeans see “the Americans” as bullying cowboys, anti-European Americans see “the Europeans” as limp-wristed pansies. The American is a virile, heterosexual male; the European is female, impotent, or castrated. Militarily, Europeans can’t get it up. (After all, they have fewer than twenty “heavy lift” transport planes, compared with the United States’…
This is exclusive content for subscribers only.
Get unlimited access to The New York Review for just $1 an issue!
Continue reading this article, and thousands more from our archive, for the low introductory rate of just $1 an issue. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription.