LOS ANGELES, D.C., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- LOS ANGELES, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Will the anti-Americanism endemic in the upper
reaches of many Western European societies prevent their governments from
backing the U.S. in its war on terrorism? It is increasingly argued here that
the Europeans, who can never forget that they ran the world for a couple of
centuries, resent following America's lead so much that they will balk at
doing what needs to be done to avenge Osama bin Laden's attack on America.
I predict, however, that this won't happen over the long term because European grassroots
opinion, particularly female opinion, will strongly favor America.
According to an old joke, the typical husband boasts, "I make all the big
decisions around here, while I let my wife make the little ones. For example,
I decide our family's position on national missile defense, Tibet and the
gold standard. My wife decides how often we visit my mother, where we live,
and who our friends are."
I suspect that in many European families, anti-Americanism is one of those
Big Decisions that women leave to their men. The women know it's mostly just
one of those pompous affectations that bolster the male ego, without normally
affecting the things in life that women care deeply about.
(Granted, this line of thinking relies on old stereotypes about differences
between men and women, but they seem to help explain what's now happening.)
Today, though, there's a tidal wave just cresting of media stories about the
thousands of men and women, the fathers and mothers, who went off to work the
morning of 9.11 and never came home to their families. These profiles will
leave the average European, especially the average woman, tremendously
empathetic toward America's tragedy. Anti-Americanism will become yesterday's
fashion. Few European politicians will chose to stand against the emotional
solidarity their women voters feel with the people of America.
So far, though, compared to more typical recent tragedies, there has been
relatively little female-oriented human-interest coverage of the thousands
victims and their grieving families. In part, that's because more
male-oriented stories about war, diplomacy, military tactics, the heroism of
the firemen, the search through the rubble, airline safety, skyscraper
engineering and the like have filled the pages and screens.
Further, the dead have been slow to be certified as dead. Although it has been clear for some time that
the missing are indeed dead, the media, in an unusual display
of restraint and sympathy, had been rather reluctant to intrude on relatives
during the limbo period when all hope was not quite lost.
For these reasons, much of the tone of media reports has to date been
dominated by men, far more than is normal in our increasingly feminized
That is ending, though. Much up-close-and-personal coverage of the
individual tragedies is now arriving. They will profoundly move the women
voters of Europe, who will identify intimately with their middle class
counterparts in the New York area.
In fact, there were victims from about 50 countries. The final toll is
far from certain, but Britain's losses are staggering, said to be in the
range of 200 to 300 dead. Germany's may reach triple digits. The death tolls
of Italy and Belgium may be in the dozens. This is building a bond of common
mourning and resolve between the American and European peoples.
Many pundits have proclaimed that on 9.11, "all changed, changed utterly"
(as W.B. Yeats described the impact of the Easter, 1916 Irish nationalist
Oddly enough, however, as my UPI colleague Jim Chapin has pointed out, the
opinions of male opinion journalists have not changed, not changed at all.
We've all been searching through the rubble of events for evidence allowing
us to proclaim that the atrocities show that we were right all along about
our pet causes. Almost no one has announced that 9.11 showed he was wrong
about anything he had written much about beforehand.
On the other hand, women (speaking generally once again) are more driven by
emotion and empathy for others. They tend to be less outspoken in public
about politics and less obsessed with ideology. They are less likely to
resist changing their minds because they have less of their egos invested in
their stated opinions about politics.
Men criticize women as inconsistent and illogical. Yet, this male urge to
maintain perfect consistency with one's past views no matter how
world-shaking recent events have been is not terribly logical.
Anti-Americanism might have been chic among European women before 9.11, but
deeper, truer emotions are going to rule. Male European politicians and
pundits will eventually realize that female opinion in Europe is in sympathy
with America. Fearing a backlash at the polls, they'll sign on with
That's my prediction. Of
course, if it doesn't work out the way I'm predicting, I'm sure I'll have
some perfectly logical explanation for why it only seems like I was wrong.
I am, after all, a man.