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Stagger Lee 2
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Ray, And by the way, what this blog does has nothing to do with letting Americans, Germans or anyone else off the hook for their true shortcomings and mistakes. I can agree with that. If you read my posts carefully, you'll note that at no point I deny that anti-americanism occurs. It serves a specific function that is both necessary and vital. I see that. I'll try to explain what bothered me by modifying my metaphor: Imagine some guy had a blog exclusively about black (or jewish, or whatever) criminals. Of course there's nothing wrong with calling a criminal a criminal. Still the narrow focus would suggest other, less honorable ulterior motives. Your blog, despite its rather broad name, has a similarly narrow focus (you called it a "specific function"). Because of this focus, the blog (the comments even more than the actual blogging) emanates a very strong "us vs. them" vibe. Maybe that is entirely unintentional. Still, it leaves that impression. This "us vs. them" feel bothers me, as I have many american friends and generally a very positive disposition towards the US. However, reading some of the reactions to my comments, I must admit that I unintentionally may have added fuel to that fire, although my language was not any harsher than the general tone of this blog. Therefore I will voluntarily refrain from posting any further comments after this one. Nonetheless, you may want to ask yourself whether your blog actually contributes anything to solving the problems that you point out, or whether it just unintentionally adds fuel to the fire as much as I did. If you look at the political discourse in the US, it often seems that the "us vs. them" between left and right has degraded beyond the point where reconciliation is possible. I conjecture that the german situation, where left and right are still able to talk, results in a more civil and reasonable discourse. Your blog does this: It creates a bit of a "radical" biotope, where likeminded folks gather and reinforce each others' opinion about their pet issues. This is a step towards the american situation. If you believe that you have a valid point, shouldn't you strive to bring it to the attention of a larger, more mixed public? In this blog you're pretty much guaranteed in advance that everyone will agree with you. Thus you won't change anybody's mind; it's almost a bit cowardly. Since your blog is so much of a pocket for a very particular opinion, it also won't attract or convince any new people unless their opinions are already very predisposed to agree with you to begin with. Take me as an example: This blog didn't do a particularly good job at convincing me of anything, it only got me riled up and then told me to go to hell. Now, you may blame that solely on my being stubborn, but that would be too easy, wouldn't it? If you're really serious about doing "Medienkritik", you may want to step back and analyze your own medium first before pointing the finger at others.
Well, obviously you didn't read [...] any of the 3 years worth of examples of anti-American bias in the German msm. I only read a number of the most recent posts, and commented on their tendencies. It probably wouldn't be a viable form of discussion if I combed through three years of blog postings and commented on each individually. However, if you want to turn this into a "who read what" contest: Please realize that I have been critically following and reflecting on german media for about two decades. I suppose this blog has its share of american readers who do not have the benefit of being able to assess the unfiltered primary sources. Saying that I'm somehow less qualified to comment would be hubris, and wouldn't contribute anything meaningful to the discussion. Please, smarty pants, show us all those [...] Anti-Russian? No problem, obviously everyone gets an egg in the face from time to time. I still don't see how it's special when the vicitim is the US. The US create more news, and therefore are in the focus more frequently. What would be the alternative? Simply not reporting US-related news to avoid hurting your feelings? Let me rephrase that question. Provided that it's the free press' job to critically scrutinize the subject of their reporting, and not just reurgitate any authority's stance: What should a german newspaper report covering the US be like? Write just a few lines of such an "ideal newspaper", and this will happen: Either the text loses it's critical distance. Or it maintains it, but then I'd be able to construe that critizism into allegations of anti-americanism. To quote cardinal Richelieu: "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to sacrifice free and critical reporting for the politically correct (from your point of view) avoidance of anything that might be construed as anti-american. This is not to say that anti-americanism does not occur. I agree that it happens too often, and I don't doubt what Mr. Piltz said. He basically admits that fallible people work in journalism, who approach US-related news with an unhealthy dose of sensationalism. However, if you asked any other journalist, e.g. one who covers german news, or any respectable american journalist, you would probably hear the same lament about sensationalism. I'll try a metaphor: A citizen of Podunk is angry about the federal taxes. Fair enough, everybody feels that way. He opens a blog and scathes the anti-podunkianism of the federal government by pointing out the high taxes on podunkians. Are allegations of intentional, directed anti-podunkianism fair? No, because everybody else pays the same federal taxes, no matter which city they're from. That's the fallacy of this blog. It misidentifies the anti-americanism it perceives as a singular, unique thing, rather than yet another one of countless instances of sensationalism and generic poor journalism. In doing so it falls for the same sensationalism: It serves its audience a daily "omg the media are so biased about the US" shocker. It fails to acknowledge that anti-americanism is just a symptom of forces that are at work everywhere in the media, german or american, conservative or liberal, blog or mainstream. Pinpointing all you see as wrong to a single culprit must be very comfortable. Especially if that culprit sits in a foreign country across the atlantic. Saves one from the hard work of reflecting on one's own faults.
Buckeye, I was just poking fun at the fact the author considered it important to take a swing at Carter. After all, his presidency ended more than 25 years ago. It's especially funny to single him out for critizism when, regarding the critizised matter, he's basically done exactly the same thing as several presidents before and all presidents after him.
Buckeye Abroad, I appreciate your reply. However, I believe you mixed up some lines: "Most Germans I know would be able to correctly identify above cartoon as a silly joke, and therefore not take it too serious." Its called sarcasm, but rightists are not known for the sense of humor [unless its poor attempt at sarcasm]. "Who are these people who listen to her when she [Ann] makes outrageous suggestions such as "we should bomb Canada"?" A joke made at anothers expense which also reinforces a common, but falsly, held belief by americans. Your argument is incoherent because, as much as it validates your point, it can also be used to argue the exact opposite. You can take one of two positions: Option 1: Speech shall never be critizised for dissenting or violating someone's notion of good taste. If that is the case, people like Ann Coulter can distribute their personal flavour of sarcasm, and I have no right to critizise her, because everything is fair game. However, in that case german media such as Spiegel and Süddeutsche are also permitted to be "anti-american" to their heart's content, and you and this blog have no right to critizise them for that. Option 2: In the interest of a fair and civil debate, it shall be permitted to critize speech for violating someone's measure of fairness, civility and good taste. Now you and this blog can critize the german media for their alleged or real anti-americanism all you want, based on your subjective perception of these matters. However, I may also critize you, Ann Coulter and this blog as much as I want, based on my subjective perceptions of these matters. You can't have your cake and eat it too. On a slightly related (?) note: somehow my old account didn't work anymore. Most probably the fault is on my part, probably pressed the wrong button... Or am I not welcome anymore? I would find such censorship rather ironic, but would accept it. I'd just like to be told so in the open, just to avoid any misunderstandings.
Well, quickly skimming through the post linked by WhatDoIKnow, the Spiegel covers catch my eye. These are obviously not very flattering. However, I don't see how they differ from Spiegel covers about any other subject. I believe this week's Spiegel cover features a less than charming picture of chancellor Merkel. Is the Spiegel also rabidly anti-Merkel? Nah, they're just handling every issue with a similar dose of sensationalism. Or would you prefer it if the Spiegel did not report about the USA at all? How would that reflect on its journalistic quality? I don't deny that you can find anti-americanism in those covers, and I'll condemn that alongside you. However, you find just as much anti-whatever-else sentiments in covers about other subjects. Nonetheless this blog construes this anti-americanism to be something greater, singular, symbolical of the allegedly ubiquitous german anti-americanism. You claim that "everybody is out to get you", when in fact the same rules that apply to you also apply everybody else. Yes, that does match the definition of paranoia. There's a certain irony to it: This blog condemns german media because they allegedly cater to the inherent anti-americanism in the german people. Yet at the same time it appeals to the lowest common denominator of its american audience by supplying them with their daily dose of "I knew all those Europeans hate us" sentiments. (Just see Pamela's joke about bombing the French.) The dirty secret of this blog is that it is guilty of the very crime it sees in everybody else. By the way, David, I appreciate your feedback. However, I require more than an "I say it ain't so" to be convinced. (Disclaimer: This was not supposed to be anti-american. I hold my german friends up to the same high standard.)