Fear not, I won’t be delving into my own political opinion, nor shall I bash the President. Moreover, this is an analysis of Danish general consensus.
Recently I attended a Boy Scouts meeting in Denmark, it contained all the regular facets of Boy Scouts in America and Canada; green shirts, neck ties, badges and patches, and the ever so chaotic energy in the air present in a group of young boys given access to fire and knives. However, a stark difference was noted when the scout leader asked one of the boys to lead the group in a chant. The boy approached the centre of the circle attempting to suppress a giggle behind crooked teeth, his freckled face dimpled with a smile. The boy began to chant: “Who’s gonna build that wall?” the others replied, “We’re gonna build that wall!”. The boy continued in between giggles: “Who’s gonna pay for that wall?” – “Mexico’s gonna pay for that wall!” the troop replied while laughing. Of course, I don’t fault the children for laughing as children do. To me, it was an interesting experience. For many of these children, no older than ten years old, this may very well be the only thing they know of America.
But what will happen when these children grow up? How will their opinion of America change over time? Many of the adults in Denmark are bewildered by American politics. Several American exchange student friends of mine have been called upon by my exchange organisation to explain and reflect on the situation. Of course, their confusion is understandable. The world has only had 1.5 years of exposure to Donald Trump as a candidate and president. To many adults, their opinion, and subsequent befuddlement, is due to shock exposure. But what of the children of Denmark? Those who may grow up under a potential 8 years of American politics. What may they come to think of America? For what may become of America’s reputation abroad when all a boy may know is how laughable the head of state is?
Europe has had historically favourable views of America. And of course, in most regards, this is still true. But I fear that is slowly beginning to shift. One need only to look at the president’s recent speech at the United Nations. Either met with laughter or condemnation, the Presidents words fell short of their mark. And perhaps that will become the new view on America: “fell short of the mark”. To many Europeans, after the Second World War, America was a liberator, a brethren in democracy; poised to tear fascism apart, America was slated to be Atlas, the titan who held earth upon his shoulders.
But perhaps Atlas has shrugged.