In Arizona shooting, Europe sees an America gripped by doubt, pessimism
The Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has gotten extensive coverage in London, Berlin, and Paris. A German paper stated that the motto 'Yes, we can' has been pushed aside by the financial crisis and two wars.
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The Netherlands in 2002 and 2005 witnessed the killing of politicians Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh in the context of an often lurid anti-Islam rhetoric promoted by those individuals. Their mantle has been taken up by the recently successful Geert Wilders, who in Holland, rightly or wrongly, is often compared with the American Tea Party impulse, and who has compared the Koran to Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf.Skip to next paragraph
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“People in Holland as in the US are concerned about the tone of our debate, the sharper rhetoric, and especially since for the first time TV news anchors are following the Fox [News] style of figures like Bill O’Reilly,” says Peter van Os, a former Washington correspondent for De Groene Amsterdammer who writes on Dutch politics from The Hague. “The phrase ‘angry electorate’ is now used often here ... and we are having debates about what Bill Clinton recently called ‘fact free’ news.”
British media on the weekend immediately seized the importance of the story, the first attempted assassination of a US politician in 30 years; the BBC and Sky News followed it live for most of Saturday evening and it was Page 1 on Sunday.
Europeans have paid attention to numerous stories on former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her pro-tea party website that “targets” Giffords and includes the comment “Don’t retreat … reload” – as a symptom of the tone in US politics.
A guest column in the German Der Spiegel today warned that vitriolic attacks against Mrs. Palin from the left were themselves a manifestation of intemperate anger, and warned they could backfire by making her a victim of political elites.
Many French bloggers on the right-leaning Figaro site objected to Mr. Loughner being characterized as conservative, on the basis of his reported fascination with such writings as Das Kapital as well as Mein Kampf.
Mr. van Os notes that, “When I heard about the Arizona shooting, I remembered American friends after the killing of Fortuyn and Van Gogh, who told me that political assassinations were ‘so 60s.’”
(This story was edited after posting to correct the spelling of the last name of the Arizona shooting suspect).