Friday, September 12, 2008

Do Americans Perceive Europe as Ungrateful?

Europe Way Behind In Their Gratitude To The US.
By: J. D. Longstreet

The MsM (Mainstrean Media) was all “a-twitter” a few days ago about some poll, or other, in Europe, which demonstrated that Europeans wanted Obama to be the next President of the US. The results of the poll were reported all over the planet in a sort of surreal challenge to the “Fates in Charge of Elections” to make Obama the next US President because… the Europeans wish it to be so. Problem is… the folks in the US heard about that poll and they/we bristled.

To describe US national politics as “rough and tumble” is an understatement of gigantic proportions. Our national politics can and often does “get down and dirty”! But, and here’s the thing: It is OUR political process… and we do not like interlopers into our political arena no matter their reasoning… not even in jest.

Many Americans, if not most, have ancestral homes in Europe, as has my family. And… many of us lost loved ones fighting to liberate Europe from the clutches of despotism. So, yeah, we DO tend to get prickly when Europeans look down their aristocratic noses at the way we do things in this country.

Even now the US is attempting to secure Europe’s millions from rogue states with nuclear missiles by installing defensive missile sites in various European countries. Not to mention the fact that it is the US Navy that guarantees to keep the sea-lanes open so that European trading vessels can ply the waters around the globe in safety. Why, one would think Europe has become a permanent ward of the United States. And in many ways… it has.

See, here’s the thing: Americans love Europe. As I said above… for many of us it is our ancestral home. We want to see Europe grow and prosper and be safe. All we ask in return is a little gratitude. Not the bowing and scraping kind of gratitude … no. We DO expect the kind of gratitude in which Europe says: “Thanks, guys! Let us know when we can return the favor!” That’s all.

Speaking of returning the favor, many of us feel Europe has fallen way behind in the “returning the favor” part of their expression of gratitude. Our cousins, in the UK, have nearly over extended themselves, on more than one occasion, to stand with the US… even when the cause is unpopular with their fellow Europeans. (Funny, but I hardly ever think of the UK as a part of Europe.) And we here in The States are grateful. See, with Great Britain and the US it is a mother/child thing.

We really don’t care for the insinuations of "empire building" by the US made by some noted Europeans. As an example note the following anecdotal story:

When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell (Former US Secretary of State) was asked by an official of a world wide religious denomination if our plans for Iraq were just "an example of empire building" by George Bush.

Powell answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."

Here is another anecdote that demonstrates why Americans bristle at “put-downs” by Europeans:

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: 'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?"

And then there is this illustrious story about the language we share with a number of other countries around the globe:

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries.

Every one was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.' He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied 'Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

And finally there is the story of an elderly gentleman, of 83 years, arriving in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.
"You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

The American senior admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready,” stated the French Customs Officer.

The American said, ’’The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it.

"Impossible! Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France!"… said the indignant Frenchman.

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach, on D-Day in 1944, to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

Yes, these are anecdotal stories. But they point up a very important truth. Americans were, and are, willing to put their lives on the line and even sacrifice their lives for the people of Europe and will continue doing so well into the future. And we are willing to accept a quiet “Thank you” whenever it is offered and a pledge to stand beside us when the world is being threatened by fascism… as it is today. That’s all.

J. D. Longstreet

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Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie said...

You did not strike me as the sort of person that would give a toss what other people thought of you.

I would agree that some Europeans do not view your country in the way that it should be viewed, and that some express an opinion about your political process that is less than favourable. However, I would remind you that there is no shortage of your countrymen that express opinions about Europeans that are just as badly judged and unwarranted.

I am sure that you could fill a whole book with amusing stories about your fellow citizens’ travels around Europe, but allow me to acquaint you with some stories about my dealings with your country.

On the 3rd anniversary of 9/11 I was refused entry to Mass in New York by the police as during the conversation I stated I was from Northern Ireland. I was treated to a lengthy political rant about the brave and glorious struggle of the ‘Oirish’ which he was keen to tell me he helped fund.

Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan I was lectured by a minor official from your government that "America cooks the meal and Europe cleans the dishes." Rather insulting and resulted in most of the gathered foreign military walking out. It really did nothing except alienate the group of people that you were trying to get onboard.

But my all time favourite. In 1990 some cock of a university student approached me in a bar in NYC and demanded, not requested, money for NORAID. When I politely refused and pointed out that I’m the other kind of Oirish, he started with all this anti-British propaganda. I put him on his arse. You see its nice and romantic to wear the gear, sing the auld songs and enjoy the senseless violence when its a few thousand miles away...but when it is suddenly in your peaceful cities.

Having travelled all over the world I can honestly say that every country has its fair share of morons. Plenty of idiots in your country, plenty of idiots in Canada, France, Germany and Spain. By far the biggest bunch of idiots I have ever come across are my fellow countrymen. Being surrounded by them every day, their stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

Personally, I could not care less who your next head of state is. It will not change my opinion of your country which I have always held in high regard. Disregarding the above stories (all true) I have always enjoyed any time I spent in the US and I am sure I will continue to do so.

Longstreet said...

"However, I would remind you that there is no shortage of your countrymen that express opinions about Europeans that are just as badly judged and unwarranted."
It gives me great pain to admit that you are absolutely correct. But, I noticed the insults you receieved, and reported here, all took place in the northern colonies... save for the comments of the self inflated government representatives.

We are certainly not without sins of our own.


Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie said...

“We are certainly not without sins of our own.” Is any country? I think if most nations looked at themselves through the eyes of others that would discover a great deal about themselves.

From my own experience there is a difference between how different European nations perceive the sacrifice of US service personnel. Local school children in Holland ‘adopt’ a grave of an allied soldier and on Remembrance Day lay flowers, irrespective of the nationality. The same is true in Belgium. The citizens of Ypres, Flanders wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium's freedom during the First World War and each day at 20:00, the last post is played. Every day since 1927, except during the occupation. If you ever get the chance I would recommend a visit. A very touching service. On Armistice Day a service is always held at Madingley, England, the largest American War Cemetery in the UK. The Christmas tree erected each year in London is a gift from the people of Norway, a token of their thanks. More recently I remember your national anthem being played outside Buck House after 9/11 by order of the head of state (that’s the little old lady with the crown and not the miserable unelected Scottish moron or his predecessor.)

You will notice I have left out one country in particular. Not wishing to be disrespectful but France can be summed up quite easily, "A great country spoilt only by its inhabitants." I would always pay my respects at an allied war cemetery while travelling through France but oddly never meet any French citizens paying their respects. Their absence speaks volumes!

As General Schwarzkopf said "Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you leave behind is a load of noisy baggage."

I am now off to enjoy a small glass of your country’s greatest contribution to world society. Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon.