This English translation of Revel’s L’obsession anti-americaine is an absolutely devastating indictment of European (and, presumably, Canadian) anti-Americanism – not criticism of American policies, but a passionate, implacable hatred of the United States, even when it means taking contradictory lines of argument to put down the Yanks. (As more than a few writers have noted, the Americans are savaged for “interfering” in other nations’ affairs, such as Iraq or Panama – except when they’re savaged for “isolationism” when they don’t intervene in other nations, such as Rwanda.)
Revel’s key theme is the sheer, staggering hypocrisy of Europeans’ knee-jerk attacks against the United States. They say America is “fascist” while cracking down on free speech in ways no American government would ever get away with. They accuse America of supporting dictators while selling weapons to any tyrants who want them. They say America is crime-ridden, while their crime rates – especially among a disaffected, unassimilated immigrant population – are skyrocketing while American crime rates fall. The list goes on and on.
The author does not mean to suggest the United States or its policies should never be criticized (indeed, this book came out before the Iraq war, but I understand Revel opposed that war and openly admits he wants Bush defeated this fall). But such criticism should be fair and consistent, and much of the anti-Americanism so prevalent among his countrymen is neither.
L’obsession anti-americaine, unfortunately, was not a cultural phenomenon in France like that no-plane-crashed-into-the-Pentagon book, but it was a best-seller in that country. Americans may see the French as an undifferentiated mass, united in its unanimous hatred of their country – but Revel doesn’t feel that way, and neither do all of his compatriots. This book is essential reading on both sides of the Atlantic.
[originally posted to Daimnation!]