Today, it is common knowledge that Anti-Americanism is a pretty chic concept going around Europe and other areas of the world. This sentiment increased as the new Bush Administration came into office, and pretty much openly announced that things were going to change, and the US would be acting even more openly in its own self interest. This anti-Americanism is pretty much due to the highly imbalanced economic and military influence of the US over most of the world, especially Europe.

The annoying thing about all of this is that the US is escallating the discomfort. A few weeks ago, on my drive home from work, there was is a highly conservative talk show host on one of the Boston area radio stations. His topic was George W. Bush's trip to Europe, and how the criticism he was under was not right. For about 10 minutes, this host was talking about how Europeans are not thankful as they should be to Americans, and how had it not been for good American farm boys sacrificing their lives, every square foot of Europe would have been under tyranny. He continued to say that had it not been for us, most Europeans would be goose stepping and buying bratwurst down at their markets.

There was nothing more irritating than hearing something as blatantly self centered as this radio broadcast. Why is it that so many Americans today honestly feel that Europe should still be throwing themselves at our feet in thanks for our deeds during the Second World War? Are the French still expecting our thanks for their help in the American Revolution? The war happened more than half a century ago! Things are different now. Governments are different, situations are different, and mentality is different. The only thing that has not managed to change is the American mentality.

How much credit do we want to continue taking? From the foreign perspective, it seems that yes, had it not been for the American effort, we would be German dominated. But now thanks to the American effort, instead of goose stepping around town we will be skipping around in cowboy hats going to McDonalds and being forced to watch Baseball. There is a segment in Jean Luc Godard's film Pierrot le Fou where the main character is describing a man on the moon, and the Americans and Russians both land there. The Russians immediatly force him to read the works of Marx and Lenin, while the Americans make him thank them first, then force him to drink Coca-Cola.

With the amount of anti-globalization voices being heard today, it is hard not to ignore that there are problems associated with the American dominance of the world economy. In the US, McDonalds is seen as nothing more than a restaurant chain where you can go and grab a quick meal. In the rest of the world, McDonalds is not seen in the same manner. It is seen as a very distinctly American institution that exports American culture. It's not about the food, it's about the culture and character that it brings with it.

With the situation today, I do not agree with the anti-globalization protesters. Being in central London during the May-Day protests this past year was frightening. Those protests are not really about anti-Globalization, but rather about venting anger over American Dominance. I'm a staunch believer in capitalism and international business, but there is a limit as to how much culture a nation can export without running into serious problems.

I wish DMan hadn't requested that his original node on this topic be removed. Even though it was getting downvoted straight into the Fifth Circle, there is such a thing as courage of one's convictions.

In its absence let me recap: he was tired of whining foreigners bashing America simply because they were envious of our wealth, power etc.


DMan may be tired of it but the rest of the world ain't. Whose vote do you think counts more?

Anti-Americanism is indeed fueled by resentment but imo, only a small fraction of that resentment comes from envy. Most foreigners I know from living almost half *my* life overseas do not envy our horrific crime rate, our feeble public education system, or our widespread religious bigotry combined with a most un-Christian lack of charity towards the less-fortunate. My cousins in Germany are politely incredulous that American students actually have to *pay* for an education, or that health care costs more than a token amount of money. They laugh at the consumer crap that passes for "ecological" or "ergonomic" here. They shudder at the nightmare twilight that awaits senior citizens here who aren't rich. Most of all they don't understand how a country founded on principles of individualism and liberty can be so intolerant of differences, so conformist, and so cruel to the disadvantaged. That robs us of any moral authority we might have beyond our shores.

In general, the rest of the world is in awe of American technological, military and trade power, and rightly so. But let us not kid ourselves that America uses that power in the world for the good of the world. We use it for our own good, and that of our allies where appropriate, and to hell with the rest. Anti-Americanism arises from the exercise of that power without corresponding moral authority. Who are we, they say, to dictate world culture simply because Hollywood and Madison Avenue are ours? Who are we to ship our garbage overseas because of NIMBYs at home? Who the hell are we to prop up one regime and let another fall because it serves *our* interests? It's that "to hell with the rest" attitude that accounts for Anti-Americanism.

Don't get me wrong: I believe this is the greatest country in the world bar none. Far from hating America, I love her. But as we are cautioned to love the sinner as we hate the sin, I hate some of the ways America behaves at home and abroad. We are so far from perfect that it behooves us to tread more lightly. That is, if we care what others think.

I think in order to have Anti-Americanism, you must first have a clear idea of what it is that you're "anti-"...


A*mer"i*can*ism (#), n.

1.

Attachment to the United States.

2.

A custom peculiar to the United States or to America; an American characteristic or idea.

3.

A word or phrase peculiar to the United States.

(thanks, Webby!)


Hatred of defintion #1 is generally nothing more than short-sighted foreign nationalism, and hatred of defintion #3 generally springs from mere annoyance, so I'm assuming any kind of meaningful argument against Americanism is directed at definition #2, American ideas and customs.

What exactly is an American idea? According to Spuunbenda, it's a lack of moral authority over the rest of the world. To me, this sounds like more anti-superpowerism than anti-Americanism. The Roman and British empires have spent enough time on the top of the heap in the last two millennia, and they seemed no less cruel to foreign culture. (Conquering continents is real friendly...)

It's no big secret that America works foremost for the betterment of America. In that regard, the US is like each and every other country on the face of the planet Earth. For a country so important to the world's economy and so powerful militarily, the United States has performed rather admirably. Like past superpowers, America could easily march into another country, steal that country's natural resources, and enslave the people (or turn them into colonists). If the US invaded Belize, what's the worst that would happen from America's standpoint? The UN would say we're naughty? France would make empty promises about stopping all trade with America? It seems like a good plan, one that the England of the 1700's or the Rome of 1 BC would leap at! Hell, I'm sure there are some countries that would still take much more devious advantage of their power if they were in America's position.

The American government has a mandate to serve the American people. Not to serve the world's people. For all the "citizen of the world" talk, your taxes still go to Uncle Sam. It's not pretty, but that's the nature of government. If the German people don't feel that America is being charitable enough, even to its own people, why don't they have Bayer or DaimlerChrysler spend billions of dollars to help the American homeless? I expect the answer would be something along the lines of "well, that's America's problem, we have our own..." This is the precise position the US finds itself in. Children starving in Sudan are not the business of the American government. As it is, America spends billions on foreign humanitarian aid. America rebuilt Europe after the Second World War. Our government does not have to do that. Most other countries don't. The American government cares for the American people, by design. I know of no country which operates differently. People just don't like to say that out loud.

So maybe it's the filthy rich American private sector which is being stingy with funds and corrupting tribal culture. I think any careful analysis will similarly prove this false. Nike doesn't force Indonesian kids to put together sneakers. McDonald's doesn't force Moscovites to eat Big Macs. If a foreign country wants to be free of American intrusion, all they have to do is say no when Texaco wants to drill for oil there. It's pretty rare that we actually spend the money and time to set up a puppet government. ;)

One might say that all of the aid and charity America provides is really only to indirectly help America. Maybe. But would it have been better to let the people who we help starve, get murdered by their own government, or earn 3 cents a day selling coconuts? Would it have been better to leave Europe in rubble after WWII, for fear of corrupting their culture with American ideas? France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and many more are strong allies of the United States. Obviously, they must feel that some good comes from their relationship with America, or they'd tell us to fuck off. Hey, Iran's still around. There are options.

So to...

Who the hell are we to prop up one regime and let another fall because it serves *our* interests? It's that "to hell with the rest" attitude that accounts for Anti-Americanism.

I say... "Bayer, I'm hungry!"

In some ways, it seems to me that the use of the term anti-Americanism, certainly in Canada, is used in the way unAmerican is used in the United States. To follow on Salutin's analysis, cited by Whywait? above, it is used to drown out debate, and dissension.

As one who may have contributed, in some small way, both to DMan's writing of the original node, and to his request for its deletion, I can honestly say I felt it used in this way.

I have certainly tried to live up to Uberfetus' admonition to have a clear idea of what it is that you're 'anti-'; I have written a few nodes in that vein.

However, unlike Salutin, when accused of being anti-American I know exactly what is meant, and accept it, understanding it is the knee-jerk reaction to the illumination of an empire that less and less measures up to its own, apparant ideals.

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