The Platform


Should a journalist who hadn’t yet been to America be considered an expert on said country?

Last year, I picked up Amerikas Gotteskrieger: Wie die Religiöse Rechte die Demokratie gefährdet, by journalist Annika Brockschmidt, a name I recognized from the talk shows where she is often hailed as a U.S. expert. The irony here is striking; Brockschmidt was just 30 when she wrote the book and hadn’t even lived in the United States at that time. Is it pretentious to claim expertise on a nation from such a distance? It has certainly stirred controversy, some of which has been dismissed or sidestepped with accusations of sexism.

But let’s delve deeper. Germany has its views on American democracy, and Brockschmidt shares them. When Roe v. Wade was challenged, an outcry in Germany emerged that was unlike anything heard in quite some time. Were they clamoring for abortion rights in the U.S., or was something more at play? Among intellectual circles, including Brockschmidt, the consensus seemed to be that America’s democracy was faltering—even though the decision itself was democratic.

Criticism of American political figures and policies is a recurring theme in the book. From a perspective that resonates with urban students awakened to current debates, Brockschmidt paints a picture where conservatism is inherently bad, economic liberalism and individuality are questionable unless advocating for minority rights, and Democrats are good while Republicans are bad. Historical inaccuracies about Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden’s stance on abortion, or Barack Obama’s shifting position on gay marriage, are overlooked in favor of a narrative that suits Brockschmidt’s argument.

Brockschmidt’s take on social issues is equally contentious. Any deviation from a certain liberal lexicon, any reluctance to embrace what she terms “gender madness,” is equated with white supremacy. She even accuses a Black priest of adhering to this hateful ideology for following a traditional biblical view on homosexuality. The lack of nuance is staggering and overlooks the fact that minorities can, and often do, hold conservative views. Consider the socio-political conservatism of many Latinos, a point seemingly lost in her analysis.

The book also presents a disconcerting revelation about its financing. The project was funded not through Brockschmidt’s resources but via a grant from a foundation supported by German taxpayers. It’s an ironic twist for an author who critiques capitalism while enjoying its benefits.

For German readers nodding in agreement at Brockschmidt’s depiction of a backward America, a word of caution: be mindful of what’s being taught to your children. We, too, now have drag queen book readings for children, a cultural import that may not sit well with everyone.

Brockschmidt’s book is undeniably provocative and compelling for some. However, it paints a picture of America that’s oversimplified and laden with biases. It’s a work that serves more as a reflection of the author’s worldview rather than an insightful analysis of a complex nation. In the debate over America’s identity and values, this book may raise more questions than it answers, and that, in itself, can be a valuable insight.

Eva Kneifel is studying Politics and History at FernUniversität Campus Hagen.