Tuesday, March 04, 2003
NPR's Morning Edition had a really interesting (and enlightening) piece today about anti-Americanism in Spain (RealMedia - click on the blue link). Some of it is almost comical:
Manuela Urqueri [not sure of spelling] is against the war [on Iraq], but the suggestion that she and other Spaniards are motivated by anti-Americanism makes her very upset. It reminds her of alleged U.S. injustices against her country.

MU: "It's not a question of anti-Americanism. You know, this sounds to me like the vicious American propaganda in the war over Cuba."
At first, I thought she meant the conflict with Castro, and the blockade of Cuba in 1961. That would have been bad enough. But no, we're going further back:
Urqueri, an antiques restorer, isn't the only one who still bears a grudge over the Spanish-American War...
The Spanish-American War? The one where Teddy Roosevelt fought?
Even though it was more than a century ago, Spaniards still blame the Americans for sinking the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898.
Jeebuz, they are still seething over something that happened 105 years ago! Not quite bin Laden with Andalusia, but really, some people need to move on. Sheesh, we managed to patch things up with the Germans and Japanese by the 1950s, didn't we?
"Remember the Maine!" was actually a rallying cry for today's anti-war protestors, as well as some Spanish law makers.
Somewhere, William Randolph Hearst is laughing his head off.

Of course, no full-fledged idiocy is complete without a swipe at Israel backed by outright Jew-hatred, and Ms. Urqueri does not disappoint:

Like many Spaniards, Urqueri doesn't trust America's motives. She thinks the U.S. is planning a war on Iraq to promote Israel's interests.

MU: "I'm sorry, but I think the United States is a puppet of the Jews. We're talking about Saddam while Israel is massacring the Palestinian people."
If NPR is to be believed (a stretch, I know), this is pretty common amongst Spaniards. Maybe John and Antonio could comment?

At any rate, this woman's case of cranial rectitis beggars belief. Europe is home to a huge number of unassimilated, seditious Muslim "refugees." They have managed to get away with open calls for sedition and demands of shari'a, mass violence, and rape. The European populations and some governments are too afraid of them to even police them properly, and many openly admit to taking certain foreign policy stances out of fear that the Muslim "refugees" will revolt. And it's the Jews that run America? Hellooo?! The rest of the story is fascinating too. It talks about how Spaniards resent the U.S. for "el desastre" of the Spanish-American War, which resulted in Spain losing its colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. There's a whole lot of fun to be had here: the comparisons between "el desastre" and the Arab "naqba" in Palestine, or the irony of the resentment felt by the Spanish at the mean old Americans for domineering the world after taking away Spanish colonies.

Then there's this USA Today story, by way of WSJ's Best of the Web. You know, it's funny: you never hear of Americans harrassing European visitors based on the asinine policies of their governments. Some are boycotting champagne, or coming up with new names for French fries, but I've yet to hear of French or German visitors being spit on in Times Square. Hell, Americans treated Muslims after 9/11 better than many Europeans seem to be treating Americans -- who are there as private tourists, who may or may not have voted for Bush, who may or may not agree with American foreign policy, and who came to spend their money and visit Europe, because they find the Continent interesting, not to mention worth a couple thousand bucks for the trip. Whatever happened to the thoroughly educated, tolerant, pluralistic, and sophisticated society that Western Europe views itself as? Hmm? These Americans are clearly interested in Europe -- they have passports, to work with an old cliché. What's the deal?

Before I make too much of this story: yes, I know José Maria Aznar is pro-American; yes, I know the Spanish parliament has backed him in this; and yes, I realize harrassment of Americans is made up of isolated incidents. But it seems like there's a lot of such incidents, and certainly advice that essentially says "try to pass for European or Canadian" is no more encouraging than the old "don't look so darn Jewish" tip. (Which, incidentally, is also a problem -- how is it that someone in supposedly tolerant Europe can casually admit to an American reporter that she thinks the U.S. is run by Jews? When did this viewpoint become acceptable?!) John of Iberian Notes tries to minimize the problem, but it's hardly satisfying. One would think that Europeans, who always seem to pride themselves on being too sophisticated to oppose "evil" like those "arrogant cowboys," would be a little less strident. I remember from my own travels, back in the late 1990s -- people were welcoming and all, but every once in a while, I'd run into someone who, on finding my nationality, felt the need to deliver some kind of political statement. What is up with that? Why this obsession with politics demonstrated for complete strangers? Can't they just start a blog?

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