Friday, August 26, 2011

From the second part of Jay Nordlinger's "Salzburg Journal":
Being a student abroad had a great impact on me — because of the anti-Americanism of the Americans around me. It wasn’t “self-hating Americanism,” as people often say. These people did not hate themselves, trust me. Quite the opposite. What they hated was you, so to speak. Man, were they ashamed of their country — especially when governed by that yahoo Reagan. . . .

A German tells a joke, which the Americans soak up — because it plays to the image they have of their compatriots as contemptible, ignorant boobs. An American tourist passes a statue of Schiller. He says, “Look, Goethe! Mozart!
Eine kleine Nachtmusik!” Then he sings the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

My question: Why does the tourist have to be an American, as opposed to a tourist from any other country in the world? You and I know why: sheer envy and resentment — and, possibly, lurking somewhere, shame.

Since at least the 1930s, America has been, arguably, the music capital of the world: the leader in orchestras, opera companies, choruses, chamber ensembles, conservatories, and so on. Musicians from all over the world have sought to study in America, have their careers in America, pursue their destinies.

How did this start? You know why: because Germans and other Europeans pushed the best among them out, across the sea — when they couldn’t kill them first.

Not many people mention that, do they? Instead they joke about Americans’ alleged lack of culture — a stereotype that has not been true in eons, if it ever was.