Scandalous anti-Americanism

The Times of London reports that a joint French-German history textbook “is coloured by anti-Americanism, according to one of the historians who wrote it.”

Guillaume Le Quintrec said that the book, Histoire / Geschichte, contained “unashamedly pro-European ideology” and an underlying distrust of the United States.

But he said that German historians had fought to prevent their French counterparts from introducing an even harder anti-American line into the book….

It starts in 1945, a convenient date that enables the authors to focus on “memories” of the Second World War rather than its causes…. The next stage is the Cold War, where the US and the USSR are presented as broadly equivalent in moral terms. Both were engaged in an arms race described as “the balance of terror” and both sought to “impose themselves by an omnipresent propaganda” that involved “gross exaggerations and simplifications”.

A substantial section of the work is devoted to the EU — a startling success story and a beacon for the rest of the world, according to the five German and five French scholars who worked on the project. “Through its willingness to co-operate with the Third World, its attachment to multilateralism, its dialogue with other regions, the EU appears as a model on the international scene,” it says.

By contrast, modern American unilateralism “enshrined by George W. Bush is widely criticised throughout the world”, it says. Music, cinema and other forms of culture are “dominated by American multinational firms, which are the main beneficiaries of the free trade”.

M Le Quintrec told The Times that it was “largely right” to describe the work as antiAmerican. But he said that German historians had insisted upon softening the message with sentences such as: “Some people, notably in Germany, consider the US to be a power which defends democracy in a world where the UN is not always able or willing to do it.” …

This is beyond disagreement over policy and beyond an effort to find balance. Too much of what I hear today approaches bigotry.