One feature of this daily barrage of anti-Americanism is the tireless reference to “American conditions”. The term crops up again and again in reports on undesirable trends in European society. (Its connotations are always negative.) Is traffic getting worse? Are children getting fatter? Oh, no – we’re being overtaken by “American conditions”. The versatility with which the term has been used is impressive. When I recently googled its Norwegian version – “amerikanske tilstander” – I got 1,600 hits. I looked through the first hundred or so; most were newspaper articles about a wide variety of topics. Was money playing more of a part in Norwegian politics? American conditions! Was personal wealth increasingly determining the level of health care one received? American conditions! [..]
I found the term equated with macho behavior, the prescribing of antidepressants to children, Internet spam, overpaid executives, long working hours, animal abuse, lack of sensitivity to needs of convicts, the use of terrain bikes in heavy traffic, ponds being stoked with fish for “sports fishermen”, interest-free financing on cars, schools advertising for students, and the “chaos” of having many commercial radio and TV stations instead of one nice, tidy government-owned station. Perhaps the most outrageous examples I found were an article equating “American conditions” with “long hospital queues” (sorry, that comes under the category of “European conditions”), and another article claiming that “Ruper Murdoch controls the American presidential election through Republican propaganda on Fox News” and asking whether Norway’s wonderfully objective media might someday fall victim to such dastardly ideological control.
- Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept