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

An article titled “Whistleblower tells of America’s hidden nightmare for its sick poor” makes the claim that Michael Moore’s health care documentary Sicko “hit the nail on the head” and is “full of truth.”

The Guardian also claims that the conflict over Obama’s health care reforms is motivated by racism, not political philosophy. An article titled “Obama cannot escape the sound and fury over the colour of his skin” attributes resistance to Obama as stemming from “years of Southern prejudice and a simmering resentment among some Americans that a black man could become president.” Again: “Having Barack Obama as president doesn’t make America colour-blind,” which asserts that “prejudice lives on in the USA.” Again: “Liars in America,” which says that “facts don’t matter in the alternate Republican reality where Joe Wilson, Sarah Palin and the birthers are heroes.” Again: “Fears for Barack Obama’s safety as healthcare debate fuels extremism,” which says: “As the storm over Barack Obama’s health care reforms rages, surge in right-wing extremism is fanned by opponents.” And again: “If Obama can’t defeat the Republican headbangers, our planet is doomed.”

To be sure, the Guardian also lashes out at the American left: A commentary titled “Its nasty. Its scary. But face it, its not new -- America was built on racism” assures readers that “the left too has problems with people of color.”

Elsewhere, the Guardian portrays the health care debate as a war between rich and poor: “The American right loves the conservative party’s hatred of fairness” reads: “Images from the USA of field hospitals for the poor, who stand in line all night for the sake of basic health care, have a distinct whiff of the warzone; which is exactly what they are, the bloody battlefields in a third world war, the ongoing low-level conflict between rich and poor.”

A commentary titled “Myths of the [American] middle class” accuses Americans of showing “a lack of curiosity about alternative health care systems elsewhere in the world.”

The Guardian also claims that is better to get sick in Britain than in America. An article titled “In the U.S., my credit card saved my life” says that in Britain thanks to the NHS [National Health Service], “no one is afraid of getting ill.” Another article titled “In defence of the NHS: I’m glad I didn’t break my leg in the U.S.” profiles a careless British man who fell off his roof and lived to tell about it. Unlike in the United States, no one in Britain “has yet questioned whether my life is still worth living, or whether amputation would be cheaper” than fixing his broken bones. He then tells about how he has gamed the British health care system. “I am, understandably, profoundly grateful to the NHS. As it happens, during my 55 years I have had more than my money’s worth out of it.”

The Guardian has also gone beyond the debate over health care to lash out at anything its editors dislike about the United States. The newspaper has published dozens of articles with sensational headlines, many with strong anti-American undertones. Some include: “Solving America’s hunger crisis”; “America’s broken immigration system: Obama says immigration reform must wait until 2010. Until then, the inhumane detention of immigrants will continue”; “Getting America back on track is no easy task”; “Emptying California’s crowded prisons”; and “Will California become America’s first failed state?

But the Guardian is not an exclusively British platform for purveying anti-Americanism. Indeed, a surprising number of American left-wingers seem to feel that bashing their own country in a foreign newspaper is a good thing. Consider, for example, Steven Hill of the New America Foundation, who writes about “America’s failed model for the world.” Or Michael Crowley of the New Republic, who writes: “Barack Obama must beware the rise of the angry white man.” Or Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, with titles such as “The rich still run the U.S.,” “We don’t want to run the world,” “U.S. economic myths bite the dust” and “Who is America to judge?