Skip to comments.I loathe America, and what it has done to the rest of the world.
Posted on 05/07/2003 5:15:08 PM PDT by Leisler
I knew that the wave of anti-Americanism that would swell up after the Iraq war would make me feel ill. And it has. It has made me much, much more ill than I had expected.
My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world.
I can hardly bear to see the faces of Bush and Rumsfeld, or to watch their posturing body language, or to hear their self-satisfied and incoherent platitudes. The liberal press here has done its best to make them appear ridiculous, but these two men are not funny.
I was tipped into uncontainable rage by a report on Channel 4 News about "friendly fire", which included footage of what must have been one of the most horrific bombardments ever filmed. But what struck home hardest was the subsequent image, of a row of American warplanes, with grinning cartoon faces painted on their noses. Cartoon faces, with big sharp teeth.
It is grotesque. It is hideous. This great and powerful nation bombs foreign cities and the people in those cities from Disneyland cartoon planes out of comic strips. This is simply not possible. And yet, there they were.
Others have written eloquently about the euphemistic and affectionate names that the Americans give to their weapons of mass destruction: Big Boy, Little Boy, Daisy Cutter, and so forth.
We are accustomed to these sobriquets; to phrases such as "collateral damage" and "friendly fire" and "pre-emptive strikes". We have almost ceased to notice when suicide bombers are described as "cowards". The abuse of language is part of warfare. Long ago, Voltaire told us that we invent words to conceal truths. More recently, Orwell pointed out to us the dangers of Newspeak.
But there was something about those playfully grinning warplane faces that went beyond deception and distortion into the land of madness. A nation that can allow those faces to be painted as an image on its national aeroplanes has regressed into unimaginable irresponsibility. A nation that can paint those faces on death machines must be insane.
There, I have said it. I have tried to control my anti-Americanism, remembering the many Americans that I know and respect, but I can't keep it down any longer. I detest Disneyfication, I detest Coca-Cola, I detest burgers, I detest sentimental and violent Hollywood movies that tell lies about history.
I detest American imperialism, American infantilism, and American triumphalism about victories it didn't even win.
On April 29, 2000, I switched on CNN in my hotel room and, by chance, saw an item designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war. The camera showed us a street scene in which a shabby elderly Vietnamese man was seen speaking English and bartering in dollars in a city that I took to be Ho Chi Minh City, still familiarly known in America by its old French colonial name of Saigon.
"The language of Shakespeare," the commentator intoned, "has conquered Vietnam." I did not note down the dialogue, though I can vouch for that sentence about the language of Shakespeare. But the word "dollar" was certainly repeated several times, and the implications of what the camera showed were clear enough.
The elderly Vietnamese man was impoverished, and he wanted hard currency. The Vietnamese had won the war, but had lost the peace.
Just leave Shakespeare and Shakespeare's homeland out of this squalid bit of revisionism, I thought at the time. Little did I then think that now, three years on, Shakespeare's country would have been dragged by our leader into this illegal, unjustifiable, aggressive war. We are all contaminated by it. Not in my name, I want to keep repeating, though I don't suppose anybody will listen.
America uses the word "democracy" as its battle cry, and its nervous soldiers gun down Iraqi civilians when they try to hold street demonstrations to protest against the invasion of their country. So much for democracy. (At least the British Army is better trained.)
America is one of the few countries in the world that executes minors. Well, it doesn't really execute them - it just keeps them in jail for years and years until they are old enough to execute, and then it executes them. It administers drugs to mentally disturbed prisoners on Death Row until they are back in their right mind, and then it executes them, too.
They call this justice and the rule of law. America is holding more than 600 people in detention in Guantánamo Bay, indefinitely, and it may well hold them there for ever. Guantánamo Bay has become the Bastille of America. They call this serving the cause of democracy and freedom.
I keep writing to Jack Straw about the so-called "illegal combatants", including minors, who are detained there without charge or trial or access to lawyers, and I shall go on writing to him and his successors until something happens. This one-way correspondence may last my lifetime. I suppose the minors won't be minors for long, although the youngest of them is only 13, so in time I shall have to drop that part of my objection, but I shall continue to protest.
A great democratic nation cannot behave in this manner. But it does. I keep remembering those words from Nineteen Eighty-Four, on the dynamics of history at the end of history, when O'Brien tells Winston: "Always there will be the intoxication of power Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."
We have seen enough boots in the past few months to last us a lifetime. Iraqi boots, American boots, British boots. Enough of boots.
I hate feeling this hatred. I have to keep reminding myself that if Bush hadn't been (so narrowly) elected, we wouldn't be here, and none of this would have happened. There is another America. Long live the other America, and may this one pass away soon.
Well, just the other day, while bringing ...
... and we've been living like this for 61 years now!
Heh. Get used to it honey. Meanwhile, how's that space program coming along...
Yeah, except that whole 9/11 thing was in the planning stages for a few years - that would have still happened. And it scares the hell out of me to think what Gore would have done.
So lay down and die, you maggot
Well, at least it keeps her from writing those crappy novels.
This is from amazon.com, and it's an allegedly positive review
It's hard to get across just how flat-out thrilling, how readable, how absorbing is Margaret Drabble's novel The Seven Sisters. It sounds positively dull when you describe it:
Candida Wilton, a faculty wife of late middle age, has been dumped by her allegedly do-gooder husband. Her three daughters aren't too impressed with her, either. The mousy Candida decamps to an inglorious flat in London, where she measures out her time in visits to the health club, trips to the grocery store, and her weekly evening class on Virgil. She tentatively makes a few new friends and rediscovers some old ones. This opening section of the book, told in diary form, is a marvel of tone.
I'm dozing off already, and this is only a summary
With very little action, Drabble makes Candida's forays into the world quietly electrifying. One of her new pleasures is recording in her diary her mounting dislike of her ex-husband. You sense a giddy freedom: "Andrew had come to seem to me to be the vainest, the most self-satisfied, the most self-serving hypocrite in England. That kindly twinkle in his eyes had driven me to the shores of madness."
Well, that takes care of him!
Ah, but there's more life for Candida yet. A small, unexpected inheritance is left to her, and so she organizes her friends--all female, mostly aged, mostly unmarried--into a tour of Naples as Virgil describes it in The Aeneid. Their holiday is a fictional tour-de-force: by turns a hilarious send-up of group dynamics, a metafictional lark, a feminist rant, and a dark acknowledgement of Candida's mortality. In the end, Drabble's novel is a very serious one, and a very good one.
Don't all stampede to the bookstore, now.
I could not have thought of a better, more appropriate analogy. Right, she's diseased.