"A world is collapsing before our eyes", tweeted the French ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, as it became clear that Donald Trump had won the US presidential election. Although he later apparently deleted the tweet, the sentiment expressed in his tweet encapsulates the attitude of the majority of the European political establishment.
Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's international broadcaster, described the reaction to Trump's victory across Germany's political spectrum as "shock and uncertainty." Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen described Trump's win as a "heavy shock." German Justice Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: "The world won't end, but things will get more crazy".
Green party leader Cem Özdemir called Trump's election a "break with the tradition that the West stands for liberal values."
Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, said:
"Trump is the trailblazer of a new authoritarian and chauvinist international movement. ... They want a rollback to the bad old times in which women belonged by the stove or in bed, gays in jail and unions at best at the side table. And he who doesn't keep his mouth shut gets publicly bashed."
In a fine touch of irony, EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who recently referred to the Chinese as "slanty eyed," told Deutschlandfunk radio that the U.S. election was a "warning" for Germany: "Things are getting simplified, black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. You can ask simple questions, but one should not give simple answers."
In France, the media reaction was summed up by the left-leaning newspaper, Libération:
"Trumpocalypse... Shock... The world's leading power is from now on in the hands of the far-right. Fifty percent of Americans voted in all conscience for a racist, lying, sexist, vulgar, hateful candidate."
Critics omitted, however, the runaway lawlessness, divisiveness and corruption that American voters declined to reinstate.
President François Hollande described Trump's victory as marking the start of "a period of uncertainty." Previously, Hollande had said that Trump made him "want to retch."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the most powerful men in Europe, told students at a conference in Luxembourg, "We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works". He also claimed that, "The election of Trump poses the risk of upsetting intercontinental relations in their foundation and in their structure." He added that Americans usually have no interest in Europe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel herself offered to work closely with Trump only "on the basis that shared values, such as democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and people's race, religion and gender are respected" -- the overbearing implication being that Trump cannot be expected to respect these concepts.
Just how hysterical European political leaders' reaction has been to Trump was manifested in the fact that they felt compelled to hold an informal "crisis meeting" -- some diplomats called it a "panic dinner" -- on Sunday evening, to deal with the "shock" of the presidential election. "We would never have had a similar dinner if Hillary Clinton had been elected. It shows just how much we're panicking," said a diplomat from one of the smaller EU states.
Not everyone is "panicking." UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rejected the invitation and told his colleagues to end their "collective whinge-o-rama" about the U.S. election result.
There is indeed an unmistakable infantility about the reactions of European political elites to the election of the new US president, which are reminiscent of a young child lashing out after being denied candy. More significantly, the reactions reveal an overbearing disrespect for the American people's free and democratic choice of a leader. Most important, however, is that the arrogant claim to the moral high ground by European elites has no basis in reality. It simply is not true that, as Merkel claimed, freedom and democracy, rule of law and respect for people's race, religion and gender are at the foreground of European policies.
In fact, there is something deeply ironic about Angela Merkel mentioning freedom, the rule of law and so on. In fact, freedom, respect for the rule of law, and people's race, religion and gender have never been less respected and protected in Germany during the post-WWII era than under Merkel. German authorities have completely failed to protect women, Christians and others from the chaos unleashed by the mass, unvetted, immigration of mainly Muslim migrants from Africa and the Middle East. The rule of law is anything but "respected" in Germany, where large pockets of Muslims live in parallel societies, or no-go zones, where police are too afraid to enter, where the residents impose their own rules, such as polygamy, and where committing social benefits fraud is rampant while German authorities turn a knowing blind eye.
This pattern repeats itself endlessly in other European countries. In Britain, the police and social workers have turned a blind eye for years to Muslim gangs grooming, prostituting, and raping young white British teenagers in cities such as Oxford, Birmingham, Rochdale and Rotherham. How is that for "respect for the rule of law" and human rights?
There is no freedom, or respect for gender in Swedish women being told not to go out after dark, or German women being told to follow a "code of conduct" because local police authorities can no longer protect them from sexual assault.
There is no respect for religion on a continent where authorities have been unable to stem a tidal wave of anti-Semitism or to protect Christians who flee from the Middle East to Europe, only to experience similar prosecution from local or migrant Muslims.
There is no respect for freedom and democracy on a continent where citizens, such as the politician Geert Wilders, are arrested and prosecuted by national authorities in a court of law for speaking their minds freely about topics that the authorities do not find it expedient to debate in public.
Perhaps Europe can start preaching to president-elect Donald Trump once it gets its own house in order?
John Richardson is a researcher based in the United States.