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U.S. Health Care Debate Feeds Anti-Americanism in Europe (Part II)

Obama's global popularity hasn't reversed the tide of anti-Americanism that so vexed his predecessor.

by
Soeren Kern

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October 12, 2009 - 12:49 am
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In Britain, the left-wing Independent is baffled that Americans are getting “so steamed up over so abstruse a subject [health care].” In a conspiracy-laden article titled “The right-wing crackpots taking over the mainstream,” the paper claims the real reason why many Americans are opposed to universal health care is because Obama is black. “For the first time, the detested federal government is run by a black man. A struggling economy fuels discontent, with illegal immigrants accused of stealing American jobs. The military, long a breeding ground of the far right, is sending home veterans in vast numbers. Finally there is the internet, which simultaneously propagates and intensifies the feelings of true believers — and the conspiracy theories they devour.”

The Independent continues: “The U.S. has always had a taste for conspiracy theories, but rarely as now. The place is awash with them. … Now it’s a huge leap from public health care meetings and intricate discussion of a government-run option to challenge private insurers, to militiamen in remote training camps honing skills needed to survive the ‘New World Order.’ … But common threads link them: a suspicion and fear of anything that smacks of bigger government, and a sense that the American way no longer has all the answers.”

In keeping with the racism theme, another Independent article titled “Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason” says: “Here’s what’s actually happening. The U.S. is the only major industrialized country that does not provide regular health care to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves — and 50 million people can’t afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 U.S. citizens die every year needlessly, because they can’t access the care they require. That’s equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year.”

The Independent continues: “Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending health care of being ‘killers.’ … How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality? It begins, I suspect, with religion. They are taught from a young age that it is good to have ‘faith’ — which is, by definition, a belief without any evidence to back it up. … Indeed, they are taught that faith is the highest aspiration and most noble cause. Is it any surprise this then percolates into their political views? Faith-based thinking spreads and contaminates the rational. … This kind of mania can’t be co-opted: it can only be overruled.”

In Germany, the center-right Die Welt, in a commentary titled “Marxism à la Groucho,” mocks Americans for resisting universal health care. “Even admirers of the United States often wonder why the most globalized country in the world is so insular and irrational on some issues. We [Europeans] scratch our heads when we hear about America’s gun control laws. We were surprised by President Bush’s anti-science views, reflected in his attitude toward climate change and the evolutionary theory of Darwin. Resistance to health care causes consternation in a similar manner. We know that America’s health care system — despite the great wealth of the country and its pioneering medical research — is pathetic. … But still, President Obama’s attempts to push health care reform are facing hysterical resistance. It would introduce Soviet Communism. Communism? Or simply better, cheaper, more reliable health care for all? The rational voice of reason has a difficult time in the U.S. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Groucho Marx was an American.”

In another article titled “Dirty Fight against Obama’s Reform,” Die Welt writes: “Death threats, grave markers for democrats, insults, with swastikas and SS runes: The debate over the health care reform promoted by Barack Obama takes on hysterical traits. The Republicans have opted for a dirty fight.” The paper wonders if demonstrators have “been bought,” presumably by the neocons. Elsewhere Die Welt says: “America’s racism is even older than its skepticism of big government.”

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