Today on Blogcritics
Home » Feel the Hate

Feel the Hate

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Jean-Francois Revel on anti-Americanism:

    What picture of American society is likely to be imprinted on the consciousness of average Europeans? Given what they read or hear every day from intellectuals and politicians, they can hardly have any choice in the unpleasant particulars, especially if they happen to be French. The picture repeatedly sketched for them is as follows:

    American society is entirely ruled by money. No other value, whether familial, moral, religious, civic, cultural, professional, or ethical has any potency in itself. Everything in America is a commodity, regarded and used exclusively for its material value. A person is judged solely by the worth of his bank account. Every U.S. President has been in the pockets of the oil companies, the military-industrial complex, the agricultural lobby, or the financial manipulators of Wall Street. America is the “jungle” par excellence of out-of-control, “savage” capitalism, where the rich are always becoming richer and fewer, while the poor are becoming poorer and more numerous. Poverty is the dominant social reality in America. Hordes of famished indigents are everywhere, while luxurious chauffeured limousines with darkened windows glide through the urban wilderness.

    Poverty and inequality like this should cause Europeans to cringe in horror, especially since (we have it on good authority) there is no safety net in America, no unemployment benefits, no retirement, no assistance for the destitute–not the slightest bit of social solidarity. In the U.S. “only the most fortunate have the right to medical care and to grow old with dignity,” as one writer recently put it in Liberation. University courses are reserved only for those who can pay, which partly explains the “low level of education” in the benighted USA. Europeans firmly believe these sorts of caricatures–because they are repeated every day by the elites.

    Another distinctive feature of the United States: the pandemic violence. Everywhere you go, violence reigns, with uniquely high levels of delinquency and criminality and a feverish state of near-open revolt in the ghettos. This last is the inevitable result of the deep-rooted racism of American society, which sets ethnic “communities” against one another, and ethnic minorities as a whole against the oppressive white majority. And the unpardonable cowardice and venality that has prevented American leaders from banning the sale of firearms results in regular bloodbaths in which teenagers mercilessly gun down their teachers and fellow students in the classroom. Criticisms of the U.S. system of law bounce back and forth between the idea that it is paralyzed by legalism and the claim that the nation is a lawless jungle.

    Yet another universally held conviction is that these social ills are unlikely to ever be cured since Americans make it a point of honor to elect only mental defectives as Presidents. From the Missouri tie salesman Harry Truman to the Texas cretin George W. Bush, not to mention the peanut farmer Jimmy Carter and the B-movie actor Ronald Reagan, the White House offers us a gallery of nincompoops. Only John F. Kennedy, in the eyes of the French, rose a little above this undistinguished bunch, probably because he had the merit of having married someone of French extraction; naturally, this union could not fail to raise President Kennedy’s intelligence to at least average level–but doubtless still too high for his fellow citizens, who never forgave him and ended up assassinating him.

    In any case, everyone knows that the USA is a democracy only in appearance: In the 1950s, the real face of the American political system was revealed during the McCarthy episode, which remains the truest revelation of the inner essence of the regime created by the Constitution of the United States. It is forgotten that the House Committee on Un-American Activities was originally created in 1937 to combat the Ku Klux Klan, which was considered an anti-American organization because it rejected the Constitutional contract that lies at the heart of the American system.

    ….For skeptics of democratic capitalism, the United States is, quite simply, the enemy. For many years, and still today, a principal function of anti-Americanism has been to discredit the nation that stands as the supreme alternative to socialism. More recently, Islamists, anti-modern Greens, and others have taken to pillorying the U.S. for the same reason. To travesty the United States as a repressive, unjust, racist society is a way of proclaiming: Look what happens when modern democratic capitalism is implemented!

    ….The fundamental role of anti-Americanism in Europe in general, and particularly among those on the Left, is to absolve themselves of their own moral failings and intellectual errors by heaping them onto the monster scapegoat, the United States of America. For stupidity and bloodshed to vanish from Europe, the U.S. must be identified as the singular threat to democracy (contrary to every lesson of actual history). Thus, during the Cold War, it was dogma among Europeans from Sweden to Sicily, from Athens to Paris, that the “imperialistic” power was America, even though it was the USSR that annexed Eastern Europe, made satellites out of several African countries, and invaded Afghanistan, even though it was the People’s Republic of China that marched into Tibet, attacked South Korea, and subjugated three Indochinese countries. A similar dynamic applies today in the war on terror. [American Enterprise]

Again, I despise the despisers: take responsibility for your own problems, your own failings, your own lack of resolve and nerve, your own ideological blindness.

Most anti-war Americans make a distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq, and I can respect, if disagree, with that distinction – not Euro-intellectuals and their American counterparts:

    A group of 113 French intellectuals launched an appeal against the “imperial crusade” in Afghanistan: “In the name of the law and morality of the jungle” (not because 3,000 people had been murdered), “the Western armada administers its divine justice.” Of course, if any parties in this entire affair believed themselves to be divine, it was the Islamists–the kind that murders thousands of innocent civilians in the name of Allah, or the kind that, in Nigeria and Sudan, massacres Christians for being unwilling to submit to sharia. In two months alone, several hundred Nigerian Christians were exterminated by Muslims. Our 113 intellectuals had nothing to say about it.

Now note the stunning parallels between anti-Americanism and the anti-Semitism causing columnist Julie Burchill to leave the Guardian. Revel:

    The real cause of September 11 unquestionably lies in the resentment against the United States, which grew apace after the collapse of the USSR, and America’s emergence as the “sole global superpower.” This resentment is particularly marked in the Islamic lands, where the existence of Israel, which is blamed on America, is an important motivator. But the resentment is also more quietly present over the entire planet. In some European capitals, the sense of grievance has been raised to the status of an idée fixe, virtually the guiding principle of foreign policy. Thus the U.S. is charged with all the evils, real or imagined, that afflict humanity, from the falling price of beef in France to AIDS in Africa and global warming everywhere. The result is a widespread refusal to accept responsibility for one’s own actions.

Burchill:

    Jews historically have been blamed for everything we might disapprove of: they can be rabid revolutionaries, responsible for the might of the late Soviet empire, and the greediest of fat cats, enslaving the planet to the demands of international high finance. They are insular, cliquey and clannish, yet they worm their way into the highest positions of power in their adopted countries, changing their names and marrying Gentile women. They collectively possess a huge, slippery wealth that knows no boundaries – yet Israel is said to be an impoverished, lame-duck state, bleeding the west dry.

All of these resenters are well aware that Jews run the United States, hence the logical parallel.

And then there are the insane fuckers who actually try to defend or mitigate the evil of terror:

    The refrain of German Greens, French organizations like ATTAC, magazines like Politis, Latin American intellectuals, and African editorial writers is that anti-American terrorism can be explained–indeed justified–on the grounds of the “growing poverty” caused by global capitalism, whose forces are orchestrated by the United States. The radical Left in the United States has also made this its rallying cry. The Italian Nobel laureate and novelist Dario Fo, a literary non-entity, put it bluntly: “What are 20,000 deaths [sic] in New York compared with the millions caused every year by the big speculators?”

    Of course, the Muslim world includes countries that are among the wealthiest on the planet (especially Saudi Arabia, which finances al-Qaeda and other Islamist organizations). Islamic terrorism is the offspring of religious fanaticism; it has nothing to do with poverty; and it cannot possibly lead to any improvement in the lot of backward societies. Islamists utterly reject all measures that might contribute to improvement: democracy, pluralism, intellectual freedom and critical thought, equality for women, and openness to other cultures.

And finally, the canards against the U.S. regarding Islam, the religion of peace:

    In the two months after 9/11, the phobias and fallacies of traditional anti-Americanism massively intensified. The clumsiest of them was an attempt to justify Islamist terrorism by claiming that America has long been hostile to Islam. The United States’ actions historically have been far less damaging to Muslims than those of Britain, France, or Russia. These European powers have conquered Muslim countries, occupied and indeed oppressed them over decades and even centuries. Americans have never colonized a Muslim nation. Americans evince no hostility toward Islam as such today; on the contrary, their interventions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as the pressure exerted on the Macedonian government, were designed to defend Muslim minorities. And the U.S.-led coalition that removed the Iraqi army from Kuwait during the first Gulf War acted to defend a small Muslim country against a secular dictator who had used chemical weapons against Muslim Shiites in the south and Muslim Kurds in the north.

    Another myth strenuously maintained since 9/11 is that of a moderate and tolerant Islam. The dominant idea in the Muslims’ worldview, in truth, is that all humanity must obey the rules of their religion, whereas they owe no respect to the religions of others. Indeed, showing such respect would make them apostates meriting instant execution. Anxious to show tolerance, the Pope encouraged the erection of a mosque in Rome, the city where Saint Peter is buried. No Christian church could be built in Mecca, or anywhere in Saudi Arabia, for that would profane the land of Mohammed. There is no ambiguity about al-Qaeda-style intentions: It is quite simply to convert the whole of humanity to Islam by force. Murder and mayhem is justified in the eyes of the terrorists because it strikes at the infidels who refuse to embrace Islam. We deceive ourselves if we think we can negotiate with the al-Qaeda fanatics and their ilk.

Hence the War on Terror, specifically, Islamist terror. This is why the expense in lives and treasure is justified, indeed of necessity. The terrorists are implacable.

This is why rebuilding Iraq into a modern democracy is just as crucial as removing Saddam in the first place, because those values anathema to Islamism – “democracy, pluralism, intellectual freedom and critical thought, equality for women, and openness to other cultures” – must be put into place within the region, giving the “Islamic street” a viable counter-example to what the terrorists are selling. And of course we have no choice but to capture or kill the terrorists themselves.

I feel much better now, thanks.

Powered by

About Eric Olsen

  • mike

    My brother was recently in Paris on business. He wore a tee-shirt that said, in both French and English: “Proud to be an American. Proud to hate Bush.” He was greeted warmly everywhere he went, people even offering to buy him drinks and dinner. So this “anti-Americanism” stuff is a bunch of hooey. The French and the Germans were just trying to save us from ourselves in Iraq. Everything that’s happened since the invasion has completely vindicated their position. They were right, and you were wrong. And I’m proud to be an American who saw that.

  • Eric Olsen

    The French re Iraq – save us from ourselves? How about the French saving their illicit investments in the country? How about the French filling their “traditional” role of opposing the U.S. on anything and everything other than when they want someting from us?

    The article goes on to say this reflexive anti-Americanism is most ingrained among the intellectual elite and that it isn’t deeply ingrained among the general populace, so there is no disagreement there, but it is the press and the elites that make the most noise and make the least sense.

  • mike

    Again, wrong. A review of the French press and elite intellectuals shows that their views are broadly similar to the French populations’. My brother was on the campus of the Sorbonne, France’s Harvard, and received the same warm reception that he did on the streets of Paris.

    France’s investments in Iraq were far less than ours, and unlike us, the French did not sell Saddam weapons of mass destruction.

    Of course they have strategic interests in opposing the U.S. on Iraq, but they are far more committed to the Western alliance than the goons in the White House are.

    Their help was critical in fighting al-Quada, both in Afghanistan and throughout the world. I’m grateful for their help, and appreciate the prescient warnings they gave us on Iraq. I’ve been buying nothing but French instead of California wine to show my thanks.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    I am no fan of America — and in truth, some of what is said above about your country is valid — but on the whole, that’s harsh! The US has some good points. And most of my friends abroad know that. It is wrong to mistake a disaffection for the government for a disaffection for the people.

  • jadester

    oh, the irony of making a generalisation in order to attack another generalisation…
    any european who actually pays attention to what goes on elsewhere, e.g. in america, will know it’s not as cut-and-dried as you make out we think.
    Making generalisations is easy. tackling reality is a little more difficult

  • Eric Olsen

    I am pleased your brother had a pleasant experience in France. So did I in ’92.

    But I would hardly consider a warm response to an anti-Bush t-shirt to be the definitive word on the French view of America.

    I welcome any and all help and cooperation from the French, but their obstructionism is just that and I disagree utterly that the intellectual/elite position is the same as the population as whole.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Eric, I’m amazed that you would post this silly poorly reasoned and sloppily written polemic.

    A cursory look through the essay reveals skewed logic, perverse generalizations, and errors of omission and of hard fact.

    A quick example:

    “The Italian Nobel laureate and novelist Dario Fo, a literary non-entity”

    Well, he’s not a novelist, but a playwright.
    And as a Nobel prize-winner, it’s truly laughable to call him a nonentity.

    The essay is crap, Eric. Barger or any number of bloggers here could have come up with a more effective propaganda piece than this in about ten minutes.

    Oh, yeah — Vive la France!

  • Eric Olsen

    I would scarcely consider an aside about the literary merit of a obscenely morally obtuse writer the downfall of the essay.

    Other than a flurry of insulting, dismissive terms I have no idea what your objections are.

    The writer is French, I am certain he will agree with the exhortation to continued existence for his country, as do I.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Eric:
    The Fo issue was just easy to mock, because it’s factually wrong and logically so silly. Faced with a Nobel-prize winner whose opinions he doesn’t like, the author just dismisses him (hilariously illogically, since a Nobel-prize-winner is by definition not a nonetity). When I see stuff like that in an essay, I tend to dismiss the rest of it.

    Attacking every misleading sentence in this crap is pointless, but since you ask for specifics, here’s a just a small snippet that’s certainly more than a mere “aside.”

    “The dominant idea in the Muslims’ worldview, in truth, is that all humanity must obey the rules of their religion, whereas they owe no respect to the religions of others.”

    Now, were I to consider only the ravings of cerebrally-impaired but politically empowered right wing Christians, such as Judge Moore, for example, I could say something similar about the Christian worldview. Look up the definition of “evangelize” and think again about the “respect” the evangelical right in this country pays other religions.

    Please contrast the lack of a “blanket condemnation” of Christianity in the above anti-Christian Right statement with what is spewed forth in the essay.

    But point-by-point analysis of this mess is useless, anyway. The essay is inseparable from its point of view, and (from my experience) refutation of individual points, while simple, won’t convince anyone who already believes that we’re doing just fine here in the USA, and it’s the French elites and their unexplainably low opinions of our capitalist society who are wrong. Pointing out obvious mistakes and fallacies in an essay based on them would be waste of time.

    And, BTW, I don’t “object” to the essay, I’m just amazed, because I know you, Eric, are very smart, and that you know this is ridiculous, overheated rhetoric disguised as commentary.
    Vive la pants!

  • mike

    I should clarify that the majority of NATIVE French are simply anti-Bush, not anti-American. Among the country’s immigrant Muslim population, anti-Semitism (or anti-Judaism) is rampant. Muslim immigrants in France, as in most European countries, are ghettoized, oppressed, and marginalized by the majority. They account for the overwhelming majority of anti-Jewish violence in the country.

    Even after 9/11, the United States is a much better place for Arabs than most European countries.

    So, to the extent that the French refuse to integrate Muslims into their society to wean them away from extremist Islam, they are culpable, yes. Europeans who criticize American racism are outrageous hypocrites.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Mike, those are key points and I appreciate your intellectual honesty. I believe you try to be fair.

    CC, The structure of the essay is this: present the anti-American view in its various manifestations, discuss its ramifications, discuss the writer’s perception of “reality.” Though the anti-view is a composite, none of it is made up, all of those anti-American views have been expressed by Euro-intellectuals and politicians, whether they actually believe them or not.

    Revel gives the pro-American side to each of these issues; he says America, like any country, has problems, but the standard cartoon anti-American view allows for easy dismissal of criticism of those real problems. that seems pretty shrewd and realistic to me.

    And if you are telling me that the extreme Christian right has as much sway in the Christian world as the Islamist view has in the the Islam world, you are sadly, grotesquely incorrect. I see no fear or hesitancy whatsoever from the mainstream Christian community to denounce the excesses of the far Christian right. I pray for the day when an Islamic mainstream denounces the Islamists as extreme and nonrepresentative of their views. It hasn’t happened yet. The point being the “mainstream” Muslim viewpoint IS extreme, as extreme as Revel portrays it.

    There are no major points in this essay where I disagree with Revel. He, and I, have nothing to apologize for.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Eric:

    The obvious logical fallacies (start with the Straw Man argument, proceed through poisoning the well, generalization, etc.) of this essay make me think you just haven’t read it through or really thought it through.
    Or that propganda is more important to you than any kind of objective truth. A quick reread of your college logic texts might be in order here. Your second graff in the above post is almost a definitin of the straw man argument.

    Oh well, why bother with rational, logical arguments about this important issue? Truth is, these crazy fucks had absolutely no reason to commit terrorism against us. We’ll never understand it, because it’s not understandable, so let’s not try.

    They do it because they are crazy and irrational and hate freedom. There are no other reasons. Just a bunch of random crazies out to terrorize a benign, loving nation that only wants what’s best for the world.

    Vive Larry Nance! Vive Judith Krantz! Vive Dennis Franz! Vive la Safety Dance!

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    No, the Islamic terrorists are not crazy or random. They are mostly simply EVIL. By this, I mean that they are motivated by hatred for us rather than love either for themselves or others.

    These jihadists represent the most perfect example imaginable of what Ayn Rand referred to as “the hatred of the good for being the good.” In their shame based thinking, they resent and hate us for being, as they (largely correctly) understand it, happy and successful. Their desire to spite us runs stronger in their souls than any desire they have to live.

    You want to imply that Eric and others of us who believe in defending the country are simply being lazy or disingenuous in refusing to try to understand the real motivations of our enemies. This is not the case. I have a pretty good idea of their thinking- and judge it to be wicked.

    You, on the other hand, seem to be unwilling to see their pure evil, even when they’re murdering people in batches- and not even for any possible gain to themselves. You seem to be much more willing to condemn US for defending ourselves than you are to condemn the most wicked people imaginable- people who would GLADLY nuke an American city for the pure joy of seeing us suffer.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Sorry to again apply those pesky rules of logic, but Al, your appeal to emotion is unpersuasive. And I am proud that I don’t consider any other human being “pure evil.”

    Sorry also to muddy your treatise on evil with pesky facts, but the only country that has ever “nuked a city” is us, led by, I believe, a tie salesman.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Using nuclear weapons in Japan 50+ years ago might indeed be considered morally questionable. It was not, however, the doing of Dubya, nor was it done just for the pure joy of causing suffering. The Japanese had directly attacked US, you may note, and had killed and tortured a good many of our people- and many others besides.

    You might somewhat reasonably argue that our use of atom bombs was unnecessary overkill, but it was also certainly a defensive move that saved the lives of many US soldiers.

    I am proud that I don’t consider any other human being “pure evil.”

    You may be quite self-satisfied with your perceived superiority- but you’re still DEAD WRONG- literally if the Islamofascists have their way. They would be no more impressed with your faux superiority than I am.

  • Eric Olsen

    What I would like to cut it down to, CC, is what exactly do you disagree with and why? What is your position on anti-Americanism, the state of Islam in the world today, and what are the root causes of Islamic terror and how should they be dealt with?

    The rest is just a rhetorical dance. I read it thoroughly, I agree with all the main points. And, by the way, this isn’t a deductive argument, it’s inductive based upon accumulating evidence. I don’t get the sense we are even working with agreement on what constitutes evidence.