Skip to comments.The Falseness of Anti-Americanism "(T)he East spoke to me… It began by calling me Pig …"
Posted on 09/04/2003 6:50:16 PM PDT by quidnunc
America is everywhere," Italian novelist Ignazio Silone once observed. It is in Karachi and Paris, in Jakarta and Brussels. An idea of it, a fantasy of it, hovers over distant lands. And everywhere there is also an obligatory anti-Americanism, a cover and an apology for the spell the United States casts over distant peoples and places. In the burning grounds of the Muslim world and on its periphery, U.S. embassies and their fate in recent years bear witness to a duality of the United States as Satan and redeemer. The embassies targeted by the masters of terror and by the diehards are besieged by visa-seekers dreaming of the golden, seductive country. If only the crowd in Tehran offering itstired rhythmic chant "marg bar amrika" ("death to America") really meant it! It is of visas and green cards and houses with lawns and of the glamorous world of Los Angeles, far away from the mullahs and their cultural tyranny, that the crowd really dreams. The frenzy with which radical Islamists battle against deportation orders from U.S. soil dreading the prospect of returning to Amman and Beirut and Cairo reveals the lie of anti-Americanism that blows through Muslim lands.
The world rails against the United States, yet embraces its protection, its gossip, and its hipness. Tune into a talk show on the stridently anti-American satellite channel Al-Jazeera, and you'll behold a parody of American ways and techniques unfolding on the television screen. That reporter in the flak jacket, irreverent and cool against the Kabul or Baghdad background, borrows a form perfected in the country whose sins and follies that reporter has come to chronicle.
In Doha, Qatar, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, arguably Sunni Islam's most influential cleric, at Omar ibn al-Khattab Mosque, a short distance away from the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, delivers a khutba, a Friday sermon. The date is June 13, 2003. The cleric's big theme of the day is the arrogance of the United States and the cruelty of the war it unleashed on Iraq. This cleric, Egyptian born, political to his fingertips, and in full mastery of his craft and of the sensibility of his followers, is particularly agitated in his sermon. Surgery and a period of recovery have kept him away from his pulpit for three months, during which time there has been a big war in the Arab world that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq with stunning speed and effectiveness. The United States was "acting like a god on earth," al-Qaradawi told the faithful. In Iraq, the United States had appointed itself judge and jury. The invading power may have used the language of liberation and enlightenment, but this invasion of Iraq was a 21st-century version of what had befallen Baghdad in the middle years of the 13th century, in 1258 to be exact, when Baghdad, the city of learning and culture, was sacked by the Mongols.
The preacher had his themes, but a great deal of the United States had gone into the preacher's art: Consider his Web site, Qaradawi.net, where the faithful can click and read his fatwas (religious edicts) the Arabic interwoven with html text about all matters of modern life, from living in non-Islamic lands to the permissibility of buying houses on mortgage to the follies of Arab rulers who have surrendered to U.S. power. Or what about his way with television? He is a star of the medium, and Al-Jazeera carried an immensely popular program of his. That art form owes a debt, no doubt, to the American "televangelists," as nothing in the sheik's traditional education at Al Azhar University in Cairo prepared him for this wired, portable religion. And then there are the preacher's children: One of his daughters had made her way to the University of Texas where she received a master's degree in biology, a son had earned a Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and yet another son had embarked on that quintessential American degree, an MBA at the American University in Cairo. Al-Qaradawi embodies anti-Americanism as the flip side of Americanization.
(Excerpt) Read more at foreignpolicy.com ...
To maintain France's sympathy, and that of Le Monde, the United States would have had to turn the other cheek to the murderers of al Qaeda, spare the Taliban, and engage the Muslim world in some high civilizational dialogue. But who needs high approval ratings in Marseille? Envy of U.S. power, and of the United States' universalism, is the ruling passion of French intellectual life. It is not "mostly Bush" that turned France against the United States. The former Socialist foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, was given to the same anti-Americanism that moves his successor, the bombastic and vain Dominique de Villepin. It was Védrine, it should be recalled, who in the late 1990s had dubbed the United States a "hyperpower." He had done so before the war on terrorism, before the war on Iraq. He had done it against the background of an international order more concerned with economics and markets than with military power. In contrast to his successor, Védrine at least had the honesty to acknowledge that there was nothing unusual about the way the United States wielded its power abroad, or about France's response to that primacy. France, too, he observed, might have been equally overbearing if it possessed the United States' weight and assets.
His successor gave France's resentment highly moral claims. Villepin appeared evasive, at one point, on whether he wished to see a U.S. or an Iraqi victory in the standoff between Saddam Hussein's regime and the United States. Anti-Americanism indulges France's fantasy of past greatness and splendor and gives France's unwanted Muslim children a claim on the political life of a country that knows not what to do with them.
The French they are a funny race.
They fight with their feet and fCENSORED with their face.
A century ago, in a short-story called "Youth," the great British author Joseph Conrad captured in his incomparable way the disturbance that is heard when a modern world pushes against older cultures and disturbs their peace. In the telling, Marlowe, Conrad's literary double and voice, speaks of the frenzy of coming upon and disturbing the East. "And then, before I could open my lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a Western voice. A torrent of words was poured into the enigmatical, the fateful silence; outlandish, angry words mixed with words and even whole sentences of good English, less strange but even more surprising. The voice swore and cursed violently; it riddled the solemn peace of the bay by a volley of abuse. It began by calling me Pig ."
But Islam is The Religion of Peace, don't you know?
In the past (while overseas) I was deferential to the acidic anti-American comments of Brits, Germans, Frenchies, and Aussies (but Brits and Germans in particular).
This time I'm not going to be deferential. I'm gonna' pop 'em right in the kisser, no comments or questions asked.
However, I think when it comes to western European leftists, it's more resentment over the fall of the Soviet Union transeferred to the anti-American cause du jour.
With some older American leftists it may be the same, but with the younger (under say 50) leftist set, it is pure Kool-Aid drinking. Anti-Americanism and anti-Jewish bigotry are a fashionable subset of anti-humanism. They are death-worshippers. No room for humans at all. Some of that in Europe too, but not predominantly (yet).
Internationally, the BBC has been doing their part
and for years and years. The Dems, Old Europe, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NYT, WP, LAT, the BBC and many major European papers all sleep in the same bed. It's not a pretty sight.
Good for you.
I had a go at two German guys who were bicycling across the US. LOL, they said we 'love America.' I also reminded them that they were in Alabama, they asked how far and which way to Florida.
Kofi becomes our defacto ruler, taxes are raised to fund the UN, France and Germany become our new best friends, we all get chip implants so the government can trace our every move, abortions reach new highs, home schooling is outlawed, mention of God in public is outlawed, Bill Clinton becomes our ambassador to the UN, Larry Flynt becomes head of the FBI, Madonna becomes National Security Adviser, the Dixie Chicks are named our Poet Laureates, Alex Baldwin heads up Homeland Security, the Electoral College is abolished, we make "peace" with radical Islam, we "share" our latest and greatest military technology with China, we withdraw totally from Iraq (replaced by one of our new best friends - France), Chelsea is named Secretary of Defense, etc.
IOW, our Republic becomes a socialist democracy. Life as we know it ends. Scary, very scary.
A great Ajami article.
Very impressive article. I am inclined to agree with this last - "America" has succeeded in becoming overseas what it has always been domestically - an abstraction that is as much a tabula rasa on which both dreams and dreads are projected by those dissatisfied with their present circumstances - i.e., virtually everybody. That, IMHO, is the reason that some French can simultaneously maintain that they hate America but don't hate Americans - not the most coherent of attitudes for those who actually inhabit the place, but perfectly understandable if "America" is treated only as an abstraction and "Americans" as real people.
It is going to be impossible - I hope - to dissociate this abstraction from the reality. When we adopt such a mythos as "America, the Land of Opportunity," for example, there is no way to lose it when to a great degree the place actually is so. Attempting to curry favor by killing the dream may only be accomplished by killing the reality first, and hence killing ourselves, which is not only not the intended outcome, but it won't work - the dream, and hence the hatred, will be the last to go and no one will be the better for it.
I am not optimistic, frankly. If what we have to look forward to a century from now is a fond memory of a Golden Age, it is instructive to read the actual history of those putative Golden Ages of the past - they were all, without exception, happy only in retrospect and by contrast to a less congenial age to follow.