Jewish World Review Sept. 15, 2003/ 18 Elul, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Euro snobs: The petulant indictment syndrome | Upon crossing the Atlantic, American celebrities do as the Euros do. They parrot Euro mockery of the country that has handed them their wealth.

Earlier this year, the Dixie Chicks, three women with one outburst, set foot on British soil and transformed into Euro snobs. At their London concert, Natalie Maines, said the Chicks "were ashamed that the president of the United States of America is from Texas."

Goldie Hawn's daughter, Kate Hudson, filming in gay ParÝs, opened fire on the country that made her a millionaire by 20, "Sometimes I'll be walking down the street and I'll hear some American and I'll go, 'Of course they hate us, of course they can't stand us.' We're the most annoying, boisterous creatures in the world. I mean we come in and we eat mounds of food, and we're like, 'where's our kaachip [sic] for our French fries. I'm like 'Shut up!'"

A Valley girl Moliere.

Johnny Depp, former beau to convicted shoplifter Winona Ryder, also has Euro disdain for the U.S. He lives in France with his wife and 2 children because he wants his children to see the U.S. from afar "like it's a kind of a toy - a broken toy maybe. Investigate a little bit, check it out, get this feeling and then get out."

However, he was just getting warmed up with this thought in an interview with a German magazine. When he heard about the House cafeteria renaming French fries "Freedom fries" because of the French refusal to back the war in Iraq, "Nothing made me happier than when I read that - grown men and women in positions of power in the United States government . . . I was ecstatic because they revealed themselves as idiots."

For his grand finale, "America is dumb, is something like a dumb puppy that has big teeth - that can bite and hurt you, aggressive."

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Mr. Depp has since said, "I am an American. I love my country and have great hopes for it. It is for this reason that I speak candidly and sometimes critically about it. I have benefited greatly from the freedom that exists in my country and for this I am eternally grateful." He apologized and said his quotes were "radically out of context."

Context on paragraphs? Mr. Depp, one of many spineless in the entertainment world, joined Hudson, Maines and others to genuflect on European soil.

What turns them into sycophants in the EU? Why must they do as the Euros do? What causes their petulant indictment syndrome (PIS)? During German elections and the run-up to the war in Iraq, Justice Minister Herta Dńubler-Gmelin offered, "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler also used." Later she said she was comparing tactics, not men. Ahh, that "context" problem again.

Canada is Euro's offspring. Following the multi-state August blackout, Toronto mayor Mel Lastman whined, "Have you ever seen the United States take the blame for anything?" Perhaps the better question is, "When is the United States not blamed?" With or without blame, we still pay.

The explanation for PIS by Euros and their Hollywood disciples lies in playground behaviors that most of us outgrew when we developed moral codes that include fairness, principles, and standing by those who have been your friends.

Children often taunt one child. The drivers are jealousy, teacher's pet, or a hard-to-pronounce name. But, all reasons boil down to the targeted child being slightly different from the playground norms in dress, behavior, speech or even teeth.

When the gang picks on the outlier child, peer pressure mounts. Many join in with the bullies, enjoying being part of the in-crowd, even if just for one brief shining moment. Others just remain silent lest they risk the taunting taking a turn toward them. Playground bullies join high school cliques that mock mercilessly those whose social standing or appearance differs.

The Euro groovys and their Hollywood sycophants hang together, cigarettes dangling, ridiculing the U.S. They zero in on its Texas flair, its simplicity in taste, its adherence to rights, freedom and principle. The U.S. fits the playground target: unlike anyone else in the group. But, Depp is right, the U.S. is like a puppy. You can yell at it and laugh at its innocent energy, but, it won't turn ugly as its Euro critics do.

So, the Dixie Chicks set a record for their tour that followed their London outburst. Kate Hudson is one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people. And Johnny Depp's pirate movie stormed the box office. Mr. Bush still meets with German leaders. And we are repairing the power grid following the blackout. The U.S. and its citizens are thick-skinned enough to forgive, forget, endure and still love. The harsh words do not deter its indefatigable desire to see all enjoy the Divine's gift of freedom, including the right to mouth off, even on Euro soil. The U.S. like a big puppy? Absolutely.

Euros and their Hollywood followers should be grateful for its unconditional love.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2003, Marianne M. Jennings