June 25, 2005

Anti-Americanism

In about twenty minutes a friend of mine is going to board an airplane to Belgium. He lives there on-and-off part time, in Antwerp, and this morning he told me he’s dreading going back there. The anti-Americanism gets more hostile and deranged by the week. It’s grinding him down so much he can hardly stand being in Europe.

He isn’t a defensive right-winger who can’t take any criticism of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. He is a leftist who voted for Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary election.

It’s not just Europe, either. Australia, staunch ally that it is, also looks like a rough place for Americans if you hang out in some circles. (Hat tip: Tim Blair.)
AMERICAN students are quitting Queensland universities in the face of hate attacks by Australians angry at US President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

One university has launched an investigation into claims an American student returned to the US after suffering six months of abuse at a residential college in Brisbane.

American students have told The Sunday Mail the verbal attacks are unbearable and threatening to escalate into physical violence.

Griffith University student Ian Wanner, 19, from Oregon, said abusive Australian students had repeatedly called him a “sepo” – short for septic tank. “It is so disrespectful. It's not exactly the most welcoming atmosphere here,” he said.

The Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission has described the abuse as “horrible” and says it could be classed as racial vilification.

The abuse problem is so prevalent that US students are being given formal briefings before leaving home on how to cope with abusive Australians.

Mr Wanner said even female Australian students were verbally abusive. He warned the problem could “escalate into a very large brawl”.

“There has already been confrontations between people,” he said.

A female American student from Griffith, who wished to remain unnamed, said she had met some “exceptional” people in Australia – but was leaving this month in shock over her treatment.

She said she was desperate to go home after the slurs, which also spilled over at pubs in central Brisbane.

“They basically picked on me,” she said. “At first, I thought it was a joke. Then I just had it out with them and told them I came here to be treated respectfully.

“I have had a few incidents in bars. I had a guy and he heard my accent and he said: 'I hate your president. I hate your country.' “

Another Griffith student has already returned to the US after enduring six months of abuse at the university's residential college in Brisbane.

All the students received counselling before arriving and were warned of the backlash against the US.

They said they were advised not to carry any items that would identify their nationality.
What I find most odd about this phenomenon is that Arab countries (at least Libya, Tunisia, and Lebanon) are a lot more welcoming of Americans than other Western countries are. Arabs are the ones who supposedly hate us the most, but they are vastly vastly more polite and more pleasant to hang out with.

What’s up with that? Is the Arab code of hospitality the only explanation? Maybe it is, but I’m not so sure. Whatever the explanation, the difference in the way Americans are treated in different parts of the world certainly is counter-intuitive.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2005 4:34 PM
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