Freedom cheese

by Chris Bertram on February 23, 2007

I made the mistake of surfing over to Jeff Weintraub’s blog earlier, which is currently featuring “lengthy coverage of Andrei Markovits’s book _Uncouth Nation_ “: . Markovits argues that all the social strata of Europe are in the grip of a pervasive anti-Americanism, and that this is closely related to anti-semitism. Evidence for this thesis includes the fact that British sports journalists often moan about the Americanization of soccer. You know, I’m puzzled. Does this mean that those Budweiser ads which mocked American commentators for their poor grasp of football during the World Cup were borderline anti-semitic? Were the people who produced them self-hating Americans? And could I get funding to write a book about the pervasive anti-Europeanism of America and cite as evidence disparaging remarks about European sport from US commentators? And would blogospheric and op-ed moanings about the European welfare-state, immigrants, old Europe and cheese count as good evidence for such a thesis? And could I get a leading European intellectual to come up with a quote for the cover saying that anti-Europeanism is “the cousin” of Islamophobia? And if I had tenure in the political science department of a leading European university, would such a book enhance its research reputation? Just wondering.



harry b 02.23.07 at 4:09 pm

One wonders what it does do the research reputation of a university that a full professor is asking people who their favourite current and childhood athletes were, and simultaneously asking others how they talk to dogs. WOuld the ESRC fund that, Chris?


otto 02.23.07 at 4:19 pm

Chris, get writing that book!

In fact, I think the argument could certainly be made that anti-Europeanism and Islamophobia are intimately related, see Mark Steyn or Marty Peretz (an admirer of Mark Steyn, by the way).


Barry 02.23.07 at 4:56 pm

If you read ‘anti-semitism’ as ‘doubleplus-ungoodism’, it will all make more sense.


eweininger 02.23.07 at 5:08 pm

Are European pundits and writers as continuously incensed about (perceived) American anti-Europeanism as their U.S. counterparts are about (perceived) anti-Americanism? Do they crave reassurance from an American BHL? Do they happily extol any little gossamer thread of “anti-anti-Europeanism” they can lay their hands on?

I am genuinely curious.


Alex 02.23.07 at 5:10 pm

Do British sports journalists often complain about the Americanisation of football? I haven’t noticed this phenomenon recently.


Doctor Slack 02.23.07 at 5:38 pm

Why, just the other day I heard a British commentator say that America’s Zionist Occupation Government sabotaged Chelsea against FC Porto. “First they came for John Terry, and we didn’t speak, because none of us are John Terry,” he said. True story.


swampcracker 02.23.07 at 5:41 pm

There is nothing new here, and it has nothing to do with Anti-Semitic sentiments due to unwavering American support of Israel, or anything else for that matter. An old phenomenom, the Americanization of Anything in Europe is always met with derision and scorn. In France, American-style breakfast cereal means an assault on the venerable bagette. “Americanization” often equates with mass marketing, crass materialism, and a threat to traditional tastes and values dear to the hearts of Europeans. I wouldn’t read more than “uncouth” into the meaning of “Anti-American,” a well-deserved reputation we have earned for ourselves, I might add.


Backword Dave 02.23.07 at 5:42 pm

He lost me in the first line. Whenever I see the adjective ‘important’ before ‘book’, ‘tract’, ‘rant’, or ‘article’ I know it’s rubbish. It’s a humbug word.


Hidari 02.23.07 at 5:42 pm

Oh purleez. I have, I am willing to bet, travelled a bit more widely through the class system than Mr Markovitz (and I am willing to bet that like most academics who rail against the ‘elite’, he in fact structures his entire life such that he never actually has to meet any of horny handed sons of toil, whose minds he finds so easy to read).

And I have never, ever, in my life met anyone who suffers from ‘anti-Americanism assuming that, by the addition of that ‘ism’ the allusion is to those other banes of modern world, racism and anti-semitism.

The key point about racism is

a: it is personal and
b: it leads directly to, not more words, but actions.

For example, racist people do not like black people (or Arabs). They claim they ‘smell’. They claim they are ‘mentally inferior’. When black/Arabic people move next door to them, they try to ignore them and then try to move house. They may or may not have the nerve to shout racist abuse at them. It is, in other words, personal, and it is based on ethnic groups or religious groups, NOT countries (the racist term ‘Paki’ does not mean ‘someone from Pakistan’ it means ‘someone whose skin colour I dislike’).

The second thing is that genuinely racist/anti-semitic discourse rarely stops at being discourse. It translates into actions. People vote for racist/anti-semitic political parties. They try and put a stop to ‘affirmative action’ (and vote for parties that do the same). They rail against ‘immigrants’ and join political parties that aim to ‘tighten up’ immigration laws. They perhaps go and stand aimlessly at the border with some binoculars, attempting to see if any of ‘them’ are crossing over.

Given that Mr Markovitz and others on the ‘decent left’ are attempting to claim that anti-Americanism is a kind of racism, it is worthwhile pointing out that this is complete nonsense. There are no derogatory terms for Americans (‘yank’ is the closest, but it is normally a term of endearment). There are no fire bombings of American homes. Americans are not assaulted in the street, either in Europe or in the Middle East. People do not move when Americans move in next door. Property prices do not drop when American expats start to move into an area.

Politically, moreover, there ARE no anti-American political parties in Western Europe. There is no equivalent of the BNP which wants to tighten up immigration of Americans. There are no ‘populist’ parties whipping up anti-American sentiments.

To repeat, therefore, anti-Americanism simply does not exist in Western Europe, and to pretend it does and then debate whether or not this is ‘inevitable’ or not is simply to enter into a contemporary debate, the medieval equivalent of which was ‘how many angels can dance on a pin head?’.

Again, to debate whether the non-existent phenomenon of anti-Americanism is related to the (unfortunately real) phenomenon of anti-semitism is simply scholasticism gone mad. It’s like asking whether unicorns are or are not related to horses.

It does piss me off though. I well know, and everyone reading this also knows, that there would be a fat cheque waiting for me, and a loooooooooong sojourn on the wingnut lecture circuit if I was just to write some crappy book on the subject ‘I used to be left wing, but then I realised that Ann Coulter is actually dead sexy and Glenn ‘bugfuck crazy’ Reynolds is in fact the greatest legal mind of our time, so please give me some money, I’ll attack George Galloway and anything, pleeeeeze more money pleeeeze‘.

Not that I’m accusing Mr Markovitz of being a whore or anything.


Joshua W. Burton 02.23.07 at 5:44 pm

I remember my first encounter in school with the Triple Entente and Central Powers of WWI, and how neatly they lined up after the Archduke snuffed it. “Why, it’s just like picking sides for sports,” said I to meself said I.

So, if the US gets the Jews, and Europe gets Islam (except around Srebrenica, sorry about that one, team), how does the rest of the lineup go? Obviously, we get Mexico next, and you get the Warsaw Pact; also obviously, Africa is going to be the kid nobody picks until the end. Who gets India?


lucky jack 02.23.07 at 6:11 pm

Having the perspective of a mere American who follows European and English football rather closely, the following may be obvious to everyone, but here goes. The fear of the “Americanization” of English football stems from increasing American ownership of Premier League teams and the concern that the clubs will become franchises (a la the American National Football League) and owners will do away with relegation, create a “Super League” etc. The Glazers’ takeover of Manchester United had an antisemitic tone, but that seems largely a thing of the past (they also saddled the club with a great deal of debt). Just this season, American Randy Lerner bought Aston Villa and the American Gillet/Hicks consortium just snatched Liverpool away from Dubai (and there was much noise about the sheiks taking over). Supporters of these clubs (again, so far as I can tell) are thrilled to have the investment, and likely prefer it coming from America rather than Russia or Dubai, as it may allow them a chance at getting into European competition (Aston Villa) or to make a credible run for the league title (Liverpool). The new American owners certainly haven’t become the shadowy villians that Roman Abramovich was (is?).

There are a number of American players in the Premier League of course, Reading and Fulham most notably, but I’ve never really detected much of an anti-American slant to the general coverage or fan talk on 606, for example. If anything, American goalkeepers are rather highly regarded. American outfield players may be lauded for their physicality rather than technical skills, but physicality has never been looked down on in the English game so far as I can tell. I mean, everybody loves Robbie Savage, right?

Finally, perhaps Beckham’s move has something to do with this too.


abb1 02.23.07 at 6:16 pm

Why, believing that America’s elders are trying to control the world is reminiscent of a certain form of antisemitism, except that it’s true without a doubt.

Believing that Europe is lazy and hedonistic is reminiscent of a different form of antisemitism. But I don’t think it’s true that the Europeans are lazy and hedonistic.


kth 02.23.07 at 6:24 pm

Tossing out the charge of anti-semitism against anyone who deplores hype and crass commercialism is really the last refuge of the philistine.


dsquared 02.23.07 at 6:45 pm

Tossing out the charge of anti-semitism against anyone who deplores hype and crass commercialism is really the last refuge of the philistine.

and if you’re fighting a war against the jews, the philistines are the last people you want to ask for advice. losing that war is the one thing they’re famous for.


otto 02.23.07 at 6:53 pm

For those who want the essence of Markovits without buying the book here’s a working paper:

“European Anti-Americanism (and Anti-Semitism): Ever Present Though Always Denied”.

You have to love the title. A pre-emptive strike against rejecting his argument.


Hidari 02.23.07 at 7:05 pm

I just glanced through that article. Who is this drivelling imbecile Markovitz? Please God don’t tell me he has some kind of an academic reputation. He claims that Europe has a ‘cultural hegemony’ in the US and that anti-European prejudice is unheard of. So movies like Mel Gibson’s Revolution and that obscene outburst of anti-French feeling (‘freedom fries’ and all that crap) that exploded when the French didn’t do what the US wanted them to, or all those attacks on the EU that the extreme Right likes to pump out…obviously a figment of my imagination.

And Glenn Reynolds’ ramblings about how Sweden had more poverty than Botswana (or whatever it was). Or all that stuff about ‘Eurabia’ (with its implication that Europe is ‘weak’ and ‘decadent’ and unable to make the manly steps necessary to deal with ‘Islamism’, unlike you know who).

All a figment of my imagination.


John Quiggin 02.23.07 at 8:05 pm

I think the high point is claims that rightwing European attacks on American “political correctness” and litigiousness are indicative of anti-Americanism.

Of course, these attacks are only made by people whose views are taken directly from (self-hating anti-American) US right.


engels 02.23.07 at 8:06 pm

Anti-americanism seems to be a term, like Weapons of Mass Destruction, which is used to conflate two different things for rhetorical purposes. The Anti-Americanists solicit us to hold hands and Unite Against Anti-Americanism, on the assumption that it is something vicious, like anti-semitism, ie. a form of racism which is directed at individual Americans on a personal level. As commenters above have pointed out, such quasi-racist attitudes are not at all widespread in Europe, and actually seem to be much rarer than their counterparts in America. On the other hand, I think it would be foolish to deny that there is a widespread distaste in Europe for many aspects for American culture and for aspects of the American model of capitalism, or, for example, that there has recently been a backlash against American brands. All of this is within the realm of legitimate cultural expression and is perfectly healthy and, in many cases, good. (Newsflash: Starbucks and Britney Spears really DO suck.) The great thing about conflating the two, as the wingers are now doing, is that it enables you to demonise justified cultural attitudes as being symptomatic of a moral pathology, ie. you can accuse anybody who doesn’t want to eat in MacDonalds of being tantamount to an anti-semite.


John Emerson 02.23.07 at 8:10 pm

We Americans are the real Jews. But the worm has turned. We refuse to be victims any longer.

Against tremendous odds, faced with the united armed might of Old Europe, we will stand up for ourselves. We’ve burned our bridges. For us now it is do or die.


dearieme 02.23.07 at 8:15 pm

And so I grit my teeth and remind myself “In spite of tits like Markovitz, I am a philosemite”. But I may perhaps have to make my philosemitism a little more nuanced.


Richard 02.23.07 at 8:27 pm

could I get funding to write a book about the pervasive anti-Europeanism of America… could I get a leading European intellectual to come up with a quote for the cover saying that anti-Europeanism is “the cousin” of Islamophobia?

I really like the pragmatism of your questions, here. Unfortunately I don’t know which US sources you’d turn to for such funding (Europeans, of course, have no money). Worried that it’ll harm your reputation in the long run? Write under a pseudonym – I suggest: “Bernard Lewis.”


Joshua W. Burton 02.23.07 at 8:51 pm

you can accuse anybody who doesn’t want to eat in MacDonalds of being tantamount to an anti-semite.

Especially in the ones with separate seating.


Chris Baldwin 02.23.07 at 9:10 pm

The fact is, there is a certain vocal minority of American intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals who espouse an anti-Europeanism that is at once much more virulent than European anti-Americanism and far more similar to anti-semitism in its anti-cosmopolitanism and association of its own side with strength and purity and the other side with weakness and corruption.


yabonn 02.23.07 at 9:17 pm

Newsflash: Starbucks and Britney Spears really DO suck.

I… I… I must make my coming out. I can’t hide it anymore to the world.

I liked “Toxic”.

Never tried Starbucks, though.

About the article, a fair warning to all those European critics : know that a critic of the notion of antiamericanism is antiamericanism. You symptoms!


Uncle Kvetch 02.23.07 at 9:51 pm

I liked “Toxic”.

Then you must be an Islamophobe.

Or did I get that backwards?


Justin Horton 02.23.07 at 9:54 pm

I mean, everybody loves Robbie Savage, right

Ha, very good.


Frank 02.23.07 at 11:12 pm

It seems most Israelis are not as touchy as Markovitz makes out:

Three-quarters of Israelis want to be in the European Union and more than a tenth would actually leave Israel for Europe if they were granted EU citizenship, according to an opinion poll published yesterday.

With Germany scoring an approval rate of 67 per cent, making the second most popular European country after Britain, the poll suggests that the attitude of most Israelis is no longer predominantly coloured by the Second World War and by the Holocaust.

At the same time Israelis have a startlingly positive view of the EU given the frequent suspicion of EU policy-making – especially on the Middle East – expressed by elements of the country’s political class.


nick s 02.24.07 at 1:11 am

The section on soccer, based almost entirely upon ‘analysis’ of the three World Cups before the last one, would be funny if one didn’t know the author got an advance. (Never mind that criticism of the 1990 World Cup extended, in part, from the infinite wisdom of playing matches in blazing heat to accommodate TV audiences.) The man doth protest way too much, methinks.

Now, there’s certainly a fear that American ownership will lead to franchising, blackmail over stadiums, a European superleague dominated by American- and Russian-owned clubs. But the generic worry, as the Budweiser ads showed in a very knowing fashion, is that the Americans get good without actually caring about the sport, which can be analogised in an entirely different way.


Justin Horton 02.24.07 at 4:37 am

Never mind that criticism of the 1990 World Cup extended, in part, from the infinite wisdom of playing matches in blazing heat to accommodate TV audiences

I think you mean the 1994 World Cup, don’t you?

I wrote (well, self-published) a book about it which criticised the decision to hold the competition there, on the sole grounds that as the US was not a country where association football was considered important, it wasn’t really the right place for the competition. It was curious how a couple of American reviews of the book were able to attribute to me every criticism of the decision except the one I had actually made.


SG 02.24.07 at 7:43 am

He says “this study is as much about the ‘how’ as it is about the ‘what’.”

i.e. he has no evidence that this phenomenon exists, except a few opinion pieces and, as he says in the introduction “dinner parties.” This Centre for European studies must be a hotbed of high-quality research.


Justin Horton 02.24.07 at 8:33 am

“Dinner parties”. Always dinner parties.


Tom T. 02.24.07 at 11:52 am

I had to snicker at the line on Markovits’ website where he says “Andy has recently started research into Human-Animal relationships.”


Jacob Christensen 02.24.07 at 4:08 pm

Can I just note that the German Wikipedia has an entry on Andrei Markovits while the English does not. But then Germans are probably more interested in football and anti-Semitism than US Americans are.

Bonus information: Some time ago I read in a German paper the claim that the anti-Bayern München sentiment fashionable among football fans in other parts of Germany actually concealed an anti-Semitic element – prior to 1933 the team’s chairman and highly successful coach were both Jews. See also the entry on FC Bayern München in the German Wikipedia. The question is: How many knew this in the 1970s and 1980s? Was/is anti-Bayern sentiment not in fact about envy? And wouldn’t a lot of anti-Americanism fall under the same category?

Europhobia and Islamophobia – hmm. It’s a bit more complex on this side of the pond. Leave aside academia and the European populist parties of the 1990s and 2000s have generally been nationalist (ie. anti-EU) and Islamophobic. My guess in that academic Europhobes – at least in Scandinavia – would tend to be leftists and Europhobia and anti-Americanism would go well together.

It’s a strange, strange world.

But I will dare a prediction: Whoever becomes president of the US in 2008 will present his or her foreign policy with the comment that Yurp doesn’t matter in international politics any more and that Asia is the important emerging region.

And sure enough: 44 will be cooperating with European allies within a year.


nick s 02.24.07 at 5:21 pm

I think you mean the 1994 World Cup, don’t you?

I stand corrected, and will blame Markovits for messing up my sense of time.


Chris Williams 02.26.07 at 12:45 pm

Where does this leave us ultraleft goy Spurs fans? Are we antisemites because we oppose (inter alia) Bush, or philosemites because we’re objective Yids?


Uncle Kvetch 02.26.07 at 7:39 pm

“Dinner parties”. Always dinner parties.

What, no cab drivers?


eweininger 02.27.07 at 6:26 pm

A dying thread, I realize, but this is too good not to place into the record. Money quote:
“That’s where Hillary and Dems would take us. Hillary = France.” The plan even envisions “First, not France” bumper stickers.


engels 02.27.07 at 11:42 pm

I liked “Toxic”.

Don’t listen to Yabonn: he’s just a self-hating Frenchman.

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