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.
- 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.