Man in the Mirror

Claus Christian Malzahn for Spiegel Online, on how the quickest way for a German politician to win public cred and rise in the polls is to take a swipe at America.

Anti-Americanism is the wonder drug of German politics. If no one believes what you’re saying, take a swing at the Yanks and you’ll be shooting your way back up to the top of the opinion polls in no time. … Not a day passes in Germany when someone isn’t making the wildest claims, hurling the vilest insults or spreading the most outlandish conspiracy theories about the United States … For us Germans, the Americans are either too fat or too obsessed with exercise, too prudish or too pornographic, too religious or too nihilistic. In terms of history and foreign policy, the Americans have either been too isolationist or too imperialistic.

Not sure whether this correlates to Rufus Wainwright having recently moved from New York to Berlin, recording his disgust with the U.S., and rocketing up the European charts (“I’m so tired of America.”) Of course, German politicians may simply be using anti-Americanism as a popularity mechanism, while I don’t think Wainwright is doing that. Either way, the man in the mirror is looking pretty grisly. Those who still doubt that America’s image has been irreparably damaged must be wearing some mighty thick blinders.

Music: The Fall :: Backdrop

8 Replies to “Man in the Mirror”

  1. I just feel he’s an overrated artist… It’s not that I don’t like his music, I’d say I’m indifferent to it, I just don’t understand why he gets so much hype..

    When I was watching the Leonard Cohen documentary a year or two ago, all I could think was “I thought this was a documentary on Leonard Cohen and not the Wainrights and McGarrigle”…

    But aside from that, while I think he’s entitled to his opinion and evacuation, I also think that it’s weak to claim you love America but then flee to another country because you feel the country has lost it’s way. There’s no way for the country to right itself if the people most critical of it abandon her…

  2. One should not underestimate the Bush administration as a largest factor in young Germans’ dislike of the US. After all, they’ve got to watch its mischief for the last six year or so, a big chunk of their lives. No wonder so many think the US is more dangerous than Iran. I often think that myself, which is sad.

  3. Sean, I feel more than indifference toward his music – I do think he’s amazing when at his best (I like his first record much more than Poses; haven’t heard the latest). It’s not like he’s one of my favorite artists, but certainly a cut above.

    As for leaving rather than fighting to make something better – a tough question, which ultimately comes down to one’s tolerance and willingness for political involvement. I’m not unsympathetic to those who feel things are unfixable. You could spend your life fighting a losing battle, or you could go be happy in Canada / Germany / Antartica. Remember that being born into a given country is an accident of the universe – it’s not like anyone chose to be born where they were born. Should we not, once we become adults, feel free to choose the country that best matches our philosophy?

    I feel the same way about religion, and am often amazed at how connected people feel to the religions they were born into — in a perfect world all cultures would have a tradition where people got to *choose* their religion at adulthood, rather than carrying on whatever tradition is handed to them.

    Larry, yes – I think that’s exactly it, and I’m sure it’s behind Wainwright’s thinking as well.

  4. BTW, I didn’t know that Rufus had moved to Berlin, but I can tell you that Berlin is an excellent and friendly place for a gay man like Rufus to live. It has a gay mayor, and while full-fledged marriage isn’t available for gay couples in Germany, one can get a legal partnership with most of the rights of marriage, including the right to citizenship and right to work permits for a foreign partner. I have many friends who have lived in or visited Berlin, and have heard this from all of them. A dear friend of mine is now married to a German man, and can live and work there as long as he wants to, and obtain dual citizenship if he desires. Why shouldn’t the “Gay Messiah” himself live in a gay Mecca, instead of a faith-drenched land that has now spawned a creationist museum which asserts that dinosaurs lived contemporaneously with humans 6,000 years ago in an antediluvian fantasy?

  5. With the exception of our Prime Minister, Australia too has become a bit of a hotbed of anti-americanism. There is a growing discontent with us being involved in a war for oil, perpetrated by lies.

    Having said that, Australia is possibly less homosexual-friendly than the USA – whilst same-sex defacto relationships are recognised, they do not yet have the same status as ‘conventional’ relationships.

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