While wandering around the streets of downtown Helsinki a couple weeks ago, waiting for a Finnish folk ensemble to begin their performance of what sounded like whale screeches accompanied by cello and drums, I saw two people wander by with books in Finnish about . . . Donald Trump. And more than once foreigners asked me about Trump. He’s the biggest American export to hit Europe since . . . Obama!
Except unlike Obama in 2008, Europeans don’t like him. Which may actually recommend him in a certain way, of course. Politico reported on this a few days ago:
On Thursday, France’s Libération newspaper devoted its entire front page to a photo of a snarling Donald, with an inch-high headline that read: “Donald Trump — The American Nightmare.”
The Continent has its share of outrageous personalities on the political right of center: Britain’s Nigel Farage, Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, France’s family Le Pen. But Trump fits many perceived European stereotypes of America: excess, vulgarity, ignorance, superficiality, love of wealth, to name a few.
“Trump represents the America that we love to hate,” said Marie-Cécile Naves, a sociologist and author of “Le nouveau visage des droites américaines” (“The New Face of the American Right”). “He is our negative mirror image, a man we see as brutal, who worships money and lacks culture — someone who lets us feel a bit superior about being European.”
In Europe’s capitals, feelings of superiority sometimes translate as concern for an ignorant American public that Trump, described by Britain’s Observer newspaper as a “malign buffoon,” is supposedly exploiting. “His constituency is ignorance,” the Observer wrote on Aug. 9 in an unsigned editorial. “In this, he is heir to a long, inglorious American tradition.”
Condescend while you can, Euroweenies. But who you gonna call when Putin gets frisky?