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Markus Kreuzer, Ph.D., Explores Anti-Americanism in Europe

By Kate McAvey, '11

Markus Kreuzer, Ph.D., an associate professor and graduate program director of political science, delivered a lecture entitled, “Anti-Americanism in Europe,” on Tuesday, March 11, in the DeLeon Room of the St. Augustine Center for the Liberal Arts.

During the lecture, Kreuzer defined what is meant by anti-Americanism, explaining the sources of its formation and its consequences.

Kreuzer began the lecture by pointing out that the idea of anti-Americanism is more of a nuisance rather than an actual foreign policy problem. First, to generate an accurate definition of the term anti-Americanism, Kreuzer used an example of the protests in France by Joseph (José) Bové, a French farmer, syndicalist, and member of the alter-globalization movement. Bové and other French farmers have used the media to display their criticism of the U.S food industry and its threat to French farms by storming a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in central France. This example of anti-Americanism contains both aspects needed to form an accurate definition of the term: opinions held of the United States that are highly politicized and biased.

“It is to take one aspect of criticism and extrapolate it,” Kreuzer said.

Anti-Americanism, however, is more than a French native giving an American tourist wrong directions on purpose, Kreuzer said. Levels of anti-Americanism vary among different areas of Europe and through different time periods. For example, the lowest amount of anti-Americanism is found in Eastern Europe followed by Germany and the United Kingdom. Greece, Italy, and France are found to have the highest rates of anti-Americanism among European countries. These unfavorable opinions have witnessed a dramatic increase since 2002, especially when compared to the low points of the 1950s and 1960s.

Anti-American attitudes that have developed and grown in certain parts of Europe can be explained in five ways. The first of these is the importance of individualism in the United States. Americans believe, as Kreuzer put it, that “you are the master of your own fate.” while Europeans are more likely to believe that circumstances play important roles in life’s outcome.

The second source is America’s strong sense of nationalism, which Europeans feel is associated with the World Wars, giving America’s pride a negative connotation. A third factor is the importance of religion in the life of an American. Americans have a much stronger relationship with God and a much higher rate of attendance at church services than any European country. The fourth aspect is capitalism in the United States, which many Europeans refer to as “casino capitalism.” Europeans associate the U.S. free market with Wall Street, the stock market, and huge salaries with little emphasis on labor unions. They contend this leads to income inequalities.

The last and final factor that Kreuzer explored is the U.S. approach to international politics. While Europe is spending more time trying to pass laws at the European level rather than at the national level, the United States has a unilateral approach to international politics.

Although the sources of anti-Americanism have different roots, Kreuzer emphasized that anti-Americanism is not having a major effect on relations between Europeans and Americans. He shares that the belief that anti-American sentiment is not affecting consumer or economic behavior. Americans and Europeans, for the most part, agree when it comes to diplomatic endeavors.

“More shared interests and values than differences in opinion are readily contained,” Kreuzer said. Although anti-Americanism is an important issue, it is less of a factor to be concerned with when compared to the various other obstacles the United States needs to overcome on the international scene.

Kate McAvey, ‘11, is a first-year student from Mahwah, N.J. She plans to major in Communication. Kate is working as an intern in the Office of Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Kate’s professional ambitions include broadcasting, public relations, and journalism.

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Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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