Right Commentary, September 16, 2008
I hate snotty Europeans. They show up in America’s major cities and bring with them not only their hatred of President George W. Bush, the Iraq war and U.S. foreign policy, but also their disdain for Americans and American culture in general.
More often than not, these snotty Europeans display their disdain toward America openly, with the ignorance of people who do not fully understand their subject matter and the ill manners of a guest telling his host at a cocktail party that his wife is ugly.
On a slightly humid summer night in Washington, DC, I attended a farewell party for a friend who worked for a prominent international organization. The crowd drew heavily from this international organization and hailed from all over the world, including from countries whose names I had previously never pronounced and whose geopolitical significance I did not care to remember. But I put on a smile and tried to be friendly.
Someone introduced me to a young man from Switzerland who had moved to the United States only some nine months ago. Doing what people do at parties, I made small talk. I inquired about how he was enjoying himself in this country. He said things were going pretty well but emphasized that he was lucky to be in Washington, DC. I assumed that like most young people, he merely enjoyed city life (which, by the way, DC offers only in pitiful fashion). As it turned out, the Swiss believed that the rest of America, the big swaths between the two coasts (i.e., the heartland), would not be a welcoming place for him.
“Why not?” I demanded. By now, my party smile had come unscrewed. This European was killing my buzz and worse yet, he was beginning to piss me off.
“Because the people in those places are not that open-minded and would not be very welcoming of foreigners,” he declared. The two or three other European guests who were part of this conversation nodded instinctively and knowingly.
“In what ways are they not open-minded?” I persisted, my voice slightly raised from clear annoyance. He paused. By now his party smile had come unscrewed as well.
“You cannot possibly tell me that people in Kansas City would be just as open-minded as the people in Washington, DC or New York?”
Yes, I am telling you exactly that, I informed him, restraining myself from including any profanity in my response. “They may be less cosmopolitan but they are certainly not less open-minded.”
The bystanders of this conversation had stopped nodding knowingly and were beginning to look a bit uncomfortable. Comments that berate Americans, often uttered by snotty Europeans, were not supposed to elicit a response, at least not from Americans who sip wine in the company of international types bent on saving the world.
The Swiss began to look rather annoyed. You can’t be serious, he said. All these people in places like Kansas City don’t know anything about the world; they dislike Europe and believe everything that the Fox News Channel tells them.
“No, Americans are warm and they are kind from all over the country,” I glared at him. “Just because they don’t know where you come from does not mean that they will refuse to get to know you.”
“Besides,” I added, for special effect, “95 percent of the nasty things that Fox News says about Europe are true and I’m already being quite charitable.”
The special effects worked. The conversation ended and the Swiss walked away to find more polite and enlightened company. I had obviously succeeded in killing his buzz too.
About a year later, I remembered this exchange when at a hip restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side, two effeminate Frenchmen loudly and proudly declared their contempt for Americans and American culture to me, an American they had just met.
It was rude, as it always is, and the two Frenchmen were disgusting, as snotty Europeans often are. One would expect such Europeans, often well paid and well educated, to behave more respectfully toward their host country. Unfortunately, many of them do not.
Perhaps when Barack Obama becomes President, Americans can all become citizens of the world and eagerly nod at European insults toward our fellow countrymen. Until then, those of us who are far less “open-minded” will continue watching the Fox News Channel and remain citizens of just the United States.