Heiko comments on my earlier post about attitudes towards the press and notes that they don't describe him (he's skeptical of the German press and aware that the US press consists of more than FOX). That's certainly true, but bloggers are probably unrepresentative -- the Blogosphere as a whole (on either side of the pond) tends to be quite a bit more aware of other points of view and skeptical of media consensus than society as a whole.
What I've been struggling to understand is whether the severely hardened attitudes I encountered in that classroom are actually more typical than those I'd encountered before. The hard part is controlling out the variables.
As Heiko notes, the topic (Iraq) is a very emotional one for almost everyone, which certainly intensified the reaction. If I were to attempt something like this again, I'd probably choose another topic.
Another key factor is that none of the people in that classroom had significant direct experience of America itself. Unfortunately, that probably makes them more typical than the friends and colleagues with whom I more typically discuss politics.
If the group in that classroom is truly typical, the relentless drumbeat in the European press is building up a truly dangerous reserve of anti-American feelings. A compliant and largely unquestioned press makes it that much easier for a charismatic populist to wield that sentiment as a potent weapon. Given the right circumstances and the wrong politician, it could get ugly fast.
That's my worst case scenario, not my likely one, but the tone of this post (more downbeat than I'd intended, truth be told) comes from disappointment at the realization that I even consider it possible. (More than) a few years ago, I was manning the barricades against the likes of Laurence Godfrey (or try the ancient Net Legends FAQ and scroll down a bit), so this is a little disconcerting for me.
:: Erik | 8/13/2004 10:32:00 PM | | ::
Sorry to just disappear like that. I was unexpectedly busy and then expectedly travelling. Posting will resume shortly.
:: Erik | 8/13/2004 09:50:00 PM | | ::