European anti-Americanism is coming back into vogue. It reached a fever pitch during the presidency of George W Bush, but was held in temporary abeyance after Barack Obama pledged to recreate the United States in Europe’s image. Now that the American Tea Party movement is poised to dash elite hopes for a more Europeanized (i.e., sophisticated) America, a prolonged new wave of anti-Americanism seems inevitable.
In the run-up to the American midterm elections, European newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television programs have been chock full with sensational reporting, disparaging editorials, and derogatory commentary about America, American voters, and the American political system.
European news media have been especially obsessed with the Tea Party phenomenon, evidently worried that a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” might be replicated on European soil and thus upset the big government/high taxes status quo of European politics. (In fact, European Tea Party movements have already emerged in several European countries, as have popular uprisings against multiculturalism and runaway Muslim immigration.)
Rather than commend the Tea Party movement as a refreshing and enviable display of American political energy, European media elites have launched an all-out propaganda assault on the movement and its supporters. The main tactic has been to seek to discredit Tea Party sympathizers as poor, uneducated, unsophisticated, bigoted, and right-wing, i.e., the exact opposite of ideal European citizens and their elite masters.
Over the past several weeks, for example, European media have used the following adjectives to describe Tea Party supporters: ill-informed, wacky, dangerous, incoherent, lacking in manners, intimidating, anarchic, buffoons, charlatans, irrational, jackanapes, confused, inclined to committing malapropisms, extreme, perverse, fruitcakes, nutters, nutcases, nutbags, wingnuts, frightening, mad, bad, juvenile scaremongerers, pandering to the lowest common denominator, easily influenced, prone to artificially-created righteous anger, cartoonishly evil, religious extremists, sociopathic, weird, climate vampires, stupid, ignorant, gullible, angry, poor, drooling imbeciles, poorly-educated, unwilling to think critically, little capacity for logical thought, making ignorance heroic, Nazis, ill-educated, driven by propaganda, idiotic, morons, incompetent, sucking the life out of the world’s ecosystems, Taliban, rednecks, backwoods, end-of-the-world culters, absurd, bigoted, duped, intolerant, ugly, toxic, grumpy, losers, utterly beyond comprehension, bad spellers, ridiculous, insentient, smug, gaffe-prone, of dubious integrity, dimwitted, populist fanatics, dangerously eccentric, and a traveling circus of fools.
What follows is a brief selection of some European media coverage on the American Tea Party movement:
In Britain, the left-wing Guardian has been obsessed with the Tea Party movement all year, but the newspaper recently has ratcheted-up its verbal attacks to levels that betray a mixture of contempt and paranoia. For example, a typical story titled “The Tea Party: On the Road with America’s Right-Wing Radicals” is laced with sarcasm, ridicule, and mockery. “These are ordinary folk from the American heartland on a mission that will take them into the heart of enemy territory – Washington D.C. America’s Tea Party is on the move. … Never much thought about politics or even much cared. Now they’re riled up and fully signed up to the Tea Party. … Tea Party activists approach the constitution the same fundamentalist way they approach the Bible: literally. The words are sacred and must be taken at face value. They should not be reinterpreted for modern times. … The Tea Party is obsessed with myths about America’s past. The Founding Fathers are revered as gods, the constitution is sacrosanct, America was uniquely established to be the land of the free.”
Another article titled “The GOP’s Coming Tea Party Hangover” mocks the “inherent weirdness” of several Tea Party candidates: “[A] candidate who views global warming as a ‘hoax,’ equates homosexuality with addiction, suggests that an alleged rape victim was suffering from ‘buyer’s remorse,’ and does not believe in the separation of church and state. … [A] global-warming sceptic whose other idiosyncrasies include apparent approval of armed action against the government, and a desire to dismantle Medicare, social security and public education.”
An opinion piece titled “Tea Partiers Keep Low Profile Shock!” asks: “Could it be that Republican handlers don’t trust their gaffe-prone candidates not to screw up?” The article reads: “Over the past week or so, many Tea Partiers have been forced to conduct one, and in rare cases two, debates with their opponents. The effects have ranged from the embarrassing to the downright farcical. … But apart from those rare moments, the political consensus in Washington is this: Tea Party candidates themselves are ducking. They are avoiding conducting campaign stops; they have noticeably reduced or even pulled out of debates with their opponents at the last minute; they don’t publicize events they are conducting until the very last minute — so the other side doesn’t get a chance to put a camera in the audience. … The reason is simple. Tea Party political handlers have little if any trust in their candidates not to screw up public appearances.”
Other Guardian headlines include: “Tea Party Climate Change Deniers Funded by BP and Other Major Polluters,” “US Veteran Who Killed Unarmed Iraqis Wins Tea Party Support,” “America’s Toughest Sheriff Rallies Tea Party Troops Against Illegal Immigrants,” “Guns, Palin and Washington (George, not DC): A Few of the Tea Party’s Favourite Things,” “Why Tea Parties are Perfect for a Disgruntled, and White, Middle Class,” “The Tea Party Movement: Deluded and Inspired by Billionaires,” “US Midterms: Change without Hope,” and “Report Links Tea Party Movement to White Supremacist Groups.”