What is the anti-american flag

Stereotypes in Germany : Today's anti-Americanism is reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric

Where great dark forces are conjured up that bring misfortune, decompose culture and threaten other nations, conspiracy theories on "America" ​​like to emerge not only on the right or left fringes. Soon after the Second World War, Americans, despite all ties to the West, were again suitable for being enemies. The Nuremberg trials were primarily associated with American “victorious justice”, while re-education was regarded in the culturally conservative jargon as “laundering of character” that was supposed to drive out the Germans' idiosyncrasies. “US imperialism”, unbridled capitalism and the like were persistently attacked from the left.

With the study by the sociologist Felix Knappertsbusch, born in Giessen in 1981, the spectrum of prejudice research in the field of anti-Americanism is extended into the present day language analysis. (Anti-Americanism in Germany. About the function of images of America in nationalistic and ethnocentric rhetoric. Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, 422 pp., € 44.99). Since the Islamist attack of September 11th and the scouting affairs surrounding the activities of the NSA, new facets of hostility towards America have developed.

Famous are the conspiracy fantasies according to which “Nine Eleven” was staged either by the American or Israeli secret service. The Snowden revelations on the practice of eavesdropping and reading along on communications served as a gift for such a worldview, and the German press has even described the USA as a “digital occupying power”. Not even the fact that German - like all the others - intelligence services are active in the global spy scene has changed much about the paranoia.

Speaking against a fictional America is speaking for a fictional, national we

Depending on the question, ten to fifty percent of Germans harbor anti-American attitudes. Knappertsbusch puts his study on a language-analytical basis, he reconstructs the theories of speech behavior from Wittgenstein to Austin to this day, and with meticulousness and patience sets out as an empiricist into the language laboratory of resentments. This path is lined with interviews, tables, statistics, code analyzes, and the harvest at the wayside is sometimes astonishing. Knappertsbusch explores terms such as “world police”, “lack of culture”, “superficiality”, “senseless consumption”, “racism”, “locust capitalism”, “naivety” in their correlation with other stereotypes of group-related enmity.

An astonishing feature of anti-Americanism is the interchangeability of resentment in both relevant milieus, the left and the right. Both the anti-imperialist and the culturally conservative milieu show, in addition to the same prejudices against America, a correlation with other stereotypes, for example with anti-Semitic, sexist and racist ones. In some cases, there is even a slightly higher correlation in the anti-imperialist milieu. Especially when it comes to anti-Zionism - latent or open hostility to Israel - both groups are on a par with one another.

Only when it comes to anti-Zionism are both camps tied. In general, Knappertsbusch makes the plausible finding that “speaking stereotypically about America is needed to rhetorically stabilize an essentialist, ethno-national identity.” Prejudices clad in language therefore do not have to have an openly damaging or violence-legitimizing intention. Speaking against a fictional America turns out to be speaking for a fictional, national we that stands out from the hybrid, mixed population and life practice of the United States.

The stereotypes, according to Knappertsbusch, serve “as constructions of difference”, as “semantics of inequality”. America as the “motherland of nomadic finance capital” - a term often used by the NPD, in which anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic codes used since the Nazi era - is far from obsolete, and the current Trump show is something new to the discourse Feed delivered. A media excursion to intelligent, lively America is recommended as an antidote. Anyone who receives the ARD additional station einsfestival can currently watch younger editions of the legendary “The Tonight Show” every evening at 11 p.m., a recommended cure for anti-Americanism as well as good satire and irony. Both are brilliantly celebrated in the land of our liberators.

In an earlier version of the article the impression was given that in the left, anti-imperialist milieu of anti-Americanism there is a higher correlation with sexist, racist and anti-Semitic resentment than in the culturally conservative milieu. This does not correspond to the scientific findings of the study reviewed here and has therefore been corrected. Please excuse the mistake.

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