The Man in the Street: The Impact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy

By Thomas A. Bailey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINETEEN
XENOPHILES AND XENOPHILISM

"I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people."-- EDMUND BURKE, 1775


1

A MORE PLEASANT TASK than analyzing international hates is exploring the reasons why we get along reasonably well with certain of our global neighbors.

In 1937 and again in 1938 and 1939 Dr. Gallup asked the American people to rate their favorite European country. The results are highly interesting:

1937 (April) 1938 (November) 1939 (July)
England55%48%43%
France111211
Germany843
Finland454
Ireland443
Italy332
Switzerland364
Sweden254
U.S.S.R.121
Netherlands12-

What does all this add up to? First, there was a vast amount of indifference. In 1937 Fortune concluded: "The United States is definitely not international-minded. It regards foreigners as people whose business is their own, and to hell with them anyway." Secondly, of all the nations in the world we like ourselves by far the best. A common answer was: "America's the only country I like."

As for individual nations, England overshadowed all others, although her popularity waned after the Munich deal. Here one sees in convincing form the blood-is-thicker-than-water attachment. We may not get along too well with Englishmen when we are thrown closely in contact with them, but we like them in the abstract because we fancy that they are the most like us.

France ranked uniformly high, obviously because of the Lafayette tradition, and although she was involved in Munich with Britain, perfidious Albion took the lion's share of the blame. The Catholics in America showed a slight leaning toward Catholic countries like France, Italy and Eire.

Germany ranked third until Munich, when Hitler's ambitions were laid naked. We thought well of the clean, industrious Germans whom we had come to know so well as fellow citizens, although we could not say the

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