Today, my letter to the editor was printed, slightly shortened, in the International Herald Tribune. FYI, here is the original version:Scot Lehigh claims that anti-Americanism is at best non-existent and at worst exaggerated, referring to the tired old canard that "it is only our leaders they are against" (Anti-Americans? Not on my trip to Europe, Dec. 10-11). Really? Is that so?
Tell me, how often have the Europeans commented on the disdain they have for, say, the leaders and/or administrations of Russia, China, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iran, and (Saddam's) Iraq, and that with the same vehemence they reserve for Uncle Sam?
How often have they held mass demonstrations against the fighting in Chechnya, the conflict between Ethiopie and Eritrea, and the Iran-Iraq war?
How often have they held vigils against the death penalty in China, in Saudi Arabia, or in Sudan, and when did they ever express "concern" over how prisoners in those countries were treated?
Those Frenchmen who stated proudly "Chirac had the balls to stand up to Bush", how did they react when their president said that France would not mention human rights during a visit to the Kremlin because it was necessary "to show consideration for Russian sensibilities"?
How did those humanists react when Paris lit the Eiffel Tower in red for the visit of the Chinese president, when the government banned Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian from attending the Paris Book Fair, or when Chirac, along with fellow peace-lover Gerhard Schröder, tried to resume selling weapons to the saber-rattlers of Beijing?
There was not much of a reaction, was there?
The truth is, the Europeans didn't (and don't) care. They didn't care one way or the other for one simple reason: they were issues in which Uncle Sam was not involved.
Anti-Americanism is quite alive: it is the practice, on a regular basis, of double standards. Nothing more. And nothing less.