Der Spiegel, anti-Americanism, and the Suck Up

There must have been some serious tutt-tutting in the Spiegel editorial offices over the rabid anti-Americanism on display in its recent coverage of the Opel affair. After all, Spiegel has been trying to project a kinder, gentler image lately, ever since a few Americans noticed that its coverage of the US had deteriorated to something rather akin to racism. Some of it was vile enough to make Julius Streicher blush. People did start noticing, though, and Spiegel had to throttle back on the hate mongering. Lately it has been carefully balancing a policy of maintaining a façade of objectivity with the occasional need to toss red meat to its legions of Amerika hating readers, imperative for keeping the bottom line above sea level. The kid glove treatment became more pronounced after Obama’s inauguration, as, according to the German media narrative, anti-Americanism was “all about Bush,” even though it was actually far more vicious and flagrant in the final years of the Clinton administration than it was in Bush’s final years. Be that as it may, Spiegel Online just published a piece dripping with such unctuous praise of the US, for Spiegel at least, that the disconnect with its usual line is enough to give you whiplash. It’s always had a policy of posting a token pro-American piece once a month or so to “balance things out,” but this was way over the top. Here are a few snippets:

Why our Picture of the USA is False

“Lots of money for child care, few cancer deaths: in comparison to Europe, the USA often ranks better than commonly believed. The historian Peter Baldwin explains why America is the land of bookworms – and why corruption is much worse in France.”

Of course, Teutonic superiority must be vindicated. Ergo, the next paragraph:

“The level of social services in the US is often portrayed as miserable and underdeveloped in comparison to Europe. And that picture is true – if one takes Sweden or Germany (my emphasis) as the standard. However, if one considers social policy in Europe as a whole, things look completely different.”

…and so on, with more reassurances that the US isn’t entirely barbaric after all, and its population is quite erudite to boot. For anyone who’s actually been following the coverage of the US in Spiegel for the last decade, the hypocrisy is enough to choke a horse.

Of course, after all this abject kow-towing, it was necessary to quickly restore “balance” to avoid disorienting Spiegel’s loyal fans. The editors didn’t disappoint, taking the occasion to post one of their regular US “history lessons.” To wit:

Secret Operation Mongoose

(Under a picture of Castro’s unfortunate predecessor) “Fulgencio Batista: The former Cuban president in front of a map of the island nation. With his US-friendly politics, Batista turned the island into an el Dorado for investors, casino barons, and Mafia dons.

Deadly Greetings from Washington

“Tainted handkerchiefs and explosives in cigars: In the early 60’s the CIA tried to kill their worst enemy with methods à la James Bond. The perfidious murder conspiracy against the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro had the personal approval of the US President – but still failed.”

And so on. You get the picture. Spiegel is hardly the only guilty party. I’ve added some covers from Stern to “restore balance” myself.

I think it unlikely, by the way, that most of the movers and shakers in the German media world really suffer from the crude, quasi-racist anti-Americanism they peddle in their rags. They’re just greedy. They do it because, as Spiegel discovered more than a decade ago, there’s big dough in catering to hatred of the United States. Stern, Focus, and the rest caught on quickly.

Finally, I wish to draw attention to some heroes that most Americans have been blithely unaware of, although they have been fighting thanklessly on our behalf for more than a decade. They are individual Germans, who, motivated only by a sense of common decency and an elementary desire for justice, have met the America haters head on, confronting them on blogs, forums, and wherever they could make their voices heard. Some of them are more articulate in their fight for fairness and against the mindless promotion of hate between peoples than I could ever hope to be. Their reward has been abuse and vilification. There have always been Germans like this, willing to take a firm stand against the national prejudices that afflict every land. I know what it has cost them to stand up for us, and I am deeply grateful to them. The rest of America should be, too.


German anti-Semitism, the Middle East “Peace Process,” and Der Spiegel

Connoisseurs of the German media will appreciate the subtle anti-Semitism in the Spiegel Online coverage of the Obama – Netanyahu summit. Of course, for well known historical reasons, the editors limit themselves to short, mincing steps in dealing with Israel, carefully lacing their coverage with even more than the usual dose of pious platitudes. Still, the thinly camouflaged “anti-Zionist” variant of European anti-Semitism that takes the form of holding Israel to a blatantly disproportionate double standard compared to her enemies is easily recognizable. For example, there are dark warnings from unnamed “experts” (Spiegel has an inexhaustible supply to fit any occasion), that the Chosen One is upset with Israel: “According to the analysis of other observers, it is finally evident that Obama no longer considers Netanyahu an ally on the path to peace in the Middle East – but rather an obstacle.” That bizarre alternative universe, in which President Obama and the Arabs are all clamoring for peace, but are constantly thwarted by Israeli intransigence, is alive and well in Der Spiegel: “’First them, then us,’ is the solution as (Netanyahu) sees it. That sounds a lot different than the bold steps Obama proposes… (he) wants to present the outlines of a comprehensive peace plan, including diplomatic approaches to Iran and Syria as well as Near East negotiations, during the state visits of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian President Abbas as well as in his speech to the Muslim world on June 4.”

Never mind that the “bold steps” Obama is proposing amount to suicide for the state of Israel. She has to go along with the “peace process,” which, as in the past, amounts to making real concessions and getting nothing in return.

The editors of Der Spiegel are as well aware as anyone that there would be peace in the Middle East tomorrow if Israel’s enemies accepted her right to exist once and for all, and stopped attacking her. As German’s, they must also be aware that her right to exist is real, and based on an historical imperative that transcends their pious phrase mongering and moralistic posing. Telling it like it is doesn’t sell magazines, though. Hate always does (see my post below on in-groups and out-groups). Yesterday, the preferred flavor of hate in Europe was anti-Americanism.  I’ve included some representative excrescences thereof that appeared in the German media from time to time, lifted from David’s Medienkritik, currently an inactive site, but with a great archive documenting anti-Americanism in the German and European media.  






 Today, it is anti-Semitism. Expect more of the same in Der Spiegel as long as the editors think they are just yapping along with the rest of the dogs.