Euro-Snobs Slight American Literature

The other day, Mr. Horace Engdahl, a man who normally occupies a rather obscure outpost when it comes to public awareness, bought himself a few minutes of fame by engaging in everyone's favorite pastime: America bashing. Mr. Engdahl's statements in this regard were noteworthy only because he happens to be the top member of the committee charged with awarding the Nobel Prize for literature.

In an "exclusive" interview with the AP, Mr. Engdahl pulled no punches when it came to demeaning Americans. In his estimation, "The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining."

This was a rather interesting comment coming from a Swede. Sweden is a lovely country, and the very nice people who live there all seem to speak beautiful English. It's also a country of only about nine million people, 87% of whom profess the same religion, speak the same language, and share the same ethnicity. Oh! Don't forget that it's surrounded on all sides by similar nations (Norway, Denmark, and Finland). I don't say any of this to insult Sweden. I just think it's worth pointing out that those who live in insular countries shouldn't throw snide stones.

We shouldn't really be surprised at this, however. Democrats and other Americans of the liberal persuasion are desperate to throw the Republicans out of the White House so that they can curry favor with the Europeans they so much admire. I'm afraid they have a tough road to hoe -- and an Obama election may not be enough to do it. The fact is that Europeans don't like us, and they never have.

Because Mr. Engdahl started this discussion about the dislike Europeans (or, at least, Europe's intellectuals) feel for America, we should look first to Nobel Prize winners when we cast about for examples of European anti-Americanism. In the world of literature, last year's controversial winner was Doris Lessing, she of the famous "they would murder Obama" attitude. (Ironically, the only place that's almost happened, at least by tragic proxy, is in England, where a white racist shot -- but thankfully did not kill -- a black man wearing an Obama shirt.)

Lessing is only the most recent anti-American winner. Two years before her prize, the winner was Harold Pinter, a leftist amongst leftists, who has called George Bush a "mass murderer." He was preceded by Elfriede Jelinek, another European Communist who deeply hates America.

This year’s winner, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, has not (yet) ascended to the ranks of rabid America haters, but his general theme seems to be a disdain for all things Western. Work your way past the prize committee’s incomprehensible praise for him as an “explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization,” and you can find the meat of his writing, which one reviewer explains the Third World as “a utopian antithesis to the ugliness and brutality of European society.”

And don't even get me started on the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.