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The best Anti-American is an American
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gerard Baker takes an interesting look at anti-Americanism and finds that the harshest critics of the US come from the US. That has some interesting and ironic implications.
Anti-Americanism is on the wane at last. All over the world, Americans are being fêted once again as farsighted, liberating heroes.

Al Gore has won a Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar and an Emmy, the triple crown of recognition from the self-adoring keepers of bien-pensant, elite liberal, global orthodoxy. Michael Moore is treated like a prophet in Cannes and Venice, as he peddles his tales of an America that poisons its poor, sends its blacks off to war and shoots itself. Whenever a loquacious Dixie Chick or a contumacious Sean Penn utters some excoriating remark about the depravity of his or her own country, audiences around the world nod their heads in sympathetic agreement. Bill Clinton, of course, is a god. Though protocol dictates that he may not say things that are too unkind about the country he once led, a nod and a wink will suffice.

It has always amused me that the same people who denounce America as a seething cesspit of blind obscurantist bigotry can’t see the irony that America itself produces its own best critics. When there’s a scab to be picked on the American body politic, no one does it with more loving attention, more rigorous focus on the detail, than Americans themselves.
In fact, it is an ever present and ongoing argument among Americans. What constitutes reasonable dissent and what goes over the line? But Baker is right - among those presenting the anti-American argument, by far the best are home-grown. And therein lies the irony:
Today I can only laugh when I see the popular portrayal of George Bush’s America in much of the international media. Supposedly serious commentators will say, without evident irony, that free speech is under attack, that Bush’s wiretapping, Guantanamo-building, tourist-fingerprinting regime is terrifying Americans into quiet, desperate acquiescence in the country’s proliferating crimes.

The truth is that America not only harbours the most eloquent and noisy anti-Americans in its own breast, it provides a safe haven for people to come from all over the world to condemn it.

Take a stroll through almost any American university campus and you will hear a cacophony of voices in a hundred different languages, slamming everything America does, from fast food to hedge-fund capitalism. For years one of America’s most celebrated academics was Edward Said, the Palestinian agitator-cum-professor, who lived high on the hog at Columbia University, near the pinnacle of the American intellectual establishment, dispensing his wisdom about US wrongs in the Middle East.

Hollywood is the global mecca for angry denouncers of everything American. From all over they come, forcing themselves to live in their green-lawned mansions carefully tended by cheap migrant labour from south of the Border. This autumn, unsuspecting Americans (and everyone else, of course) will be treated to an especially unsettling stream of antiwar, anti-American propaganda, much of it produced in Hollywood by foreigners – such as this weekend’s likely box-office hit, Rendition.

And where would the world get its daily media diet of horror stories about what a ghastly country the place is if its reporters weren’t all comfortably pavilioned inside America, where they make a generous living happily devouring the hand that generously feeds them?
Baker is absolutely correct in his assessment. Anti-Americanism feeds whole industries with endless fodder for the consumption of those who want to believe whatever reinforces their preconceived notions about America. Call it the anti-American echo chamber who can go and view the current anti-American hits in the theater and bask the smug satisfaction of false superiority after the viewing is complete.

Yet, ironically, none of those who report the excesses of the current "regime" ever seem to suffer any consequences for their "bravery" in speaking "truth to power". As Baker points out they live "happily devouring the hand that generously feeds them."

And that realization leads Baker to a spot-on conclusion:
There’s a larger irony in all this. Even as the US demonstrates the openness of its own society, its unrivaled capacity for self-examination and self-correction, a free system based on the absolute authority of the rule of law, it is told it must submit itself to the views of Moscow, Beijing, and Brussels.

Fortunately, while the American system may be forgivingly tolerant of people with wild and dangerous ideas, it doesn’t generally let them run the country.
It's that latter paragraph the rest of the world never seems to be able to grasp. There is an inherent strength in a system that both allows and learns from rigorous self-examination. The dialog it opens, even from the extremes, can be very valuable. That doesn't mean, however, it can't go too far or is safe from disagreement and condemnation when it does. But in a healthy nation, seeing that sort of back and forth, to include the condemnation of the extreme positions, indicates a process which is working and working well. And that's a good thing.

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As an aside, the first comment I saw to the article proved something we all know - that this sort of an assessment will not impress those with BDS (as "Mike" in Miami ably demonstrates):
***Fortunately, while the American system may be forgivingly tolerant of people with wild and dangerous ideas, it doesn't generally let them run the country. ****
...what exactly do you call Bush???? He easily qualifies under this description, and we have let him run our country.
And the beat goes on.
 
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What’s not right about the US is how critics of the critics are handled. In those Universities and Hollywood, they aren’t treated well.

And when you have a properly trained/brainwashed generation ready to become a willing part of the cult of victimhood and ready to become dependant (aka receive entitlements) eventually the dangerous ideas win out.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Mike in Miami is right.
while the American system may be forgivingly tolerant of people with wild and dangerous ideas, it doesn’t generally let them run the country.
It’s a pretty funny thing to say while the guy who started a pointless war he doesn’t know how to finish is running the country.

When you start detecting your anti-americanism in Bill Clinton’s hypothetical winks and nods, you’re pretty far out on a limb.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
All ideas are wild and dangerous to the people who disagree with them, Retief.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
I guess we all will see the truth come November 2008 when Bush assumes/continues his dictatorial powers... silences all dissent and continues his reign of terror over the US and the rest of te world.

; - )
 
Written By: ody
URL: http://
Your main problem here is you and the linked writer, like many others on the right, are equating distaste at Bush and other conservative policies and institutions as Anti-American. Al Gore served for eight years as the country’s vice president and more as a senator. But somehow he is opposed to Bush and the Iraq War so he’s magically anti-American.

Liberals like myself believe that the best, most potent critique can come from within because we should hold ourselves to high standards. Conservatives often react violently to that idea, preferring we should cover our ears and sing loudly while pretending that Mommy and Daddy aren’t fighting.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
Liberals like myself believe that the best, most potent critique can come from within because we should hold ourselves to high standards.
Did you type this with a straight face?

Here’s the latest in your "high standards":
"You don’t have money to fund the war or children but you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement."
Now go back to the echo chamber where they might swallow the Kool Aid. No sale here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Whether anti-Americanism and the harshest critics of the US come from the US I really can’t tell, but I can tell you it exist in Denmark as well, not that it should be a shock to anyone!

The fact of the mater is that anti-Americanism exists all over the world and it is always based on ignorance and bigotry. To examples from the last week:

1) I’m planning to go on a university exchange next fall to the US, and discussing this matter at school a couple of days ago one girl—I know to be of conservative observations which in Denmark means you are less likely to be anti-American—asked me if I really wanted to go to the US, know that the authorities (in the USA) could hold me forever without a warrant or anything!

2) during class we discussed a case about HR and labour issues and this guy just went crazy ranting against what he called the American Social System—I guess it’s a umbrella for all service you could need during a lifetime: kindergarten, school, high school, health insurance, medical help, senior care you name it—and blamed some issues in the case on that, when I questioned him on the American Social System he had no clue about the USA, what so ever but, and didn’t answer my questions he simply was shocked that not all agreed with him.

When that is said I do think that the best (in a positive way) and most substantial criticism of the US comes from people at least living in the USA. And of course it goes the other way around too; the best and most substantial criticism of Europe I here comes from people living here. And to me it’s pretty logical; you kind of know the smell of crap if you live in it.
 
Written By: Jon Herstad
URL: http://idioten.blogspot.com
Liberals like myself believe that the best, most potent critique can come from within because we should hold ourselves to high standards
Oh yea THOSE high standards....like sending your operatives into Chinatown to shakedown the Chinese wash boys for campaign donations. A Hillary administration will make the Bush-Cheney-Rove troika seem like a bunch of rank amateurs.
 
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
Liberals like myself believe that the best, most potent critique can come from within because we should hold ourselves to high standards.
...or to just impose the so-called fairness doctrine so the opposition is silenced....
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Most of these anti-American issues are summed up here.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Actually, the term "ANTI-AMERICAN" is misguided. Most of us critics of GOVERNMENT POLICY are really against what politicians are doing, we’re in that sense "anti-government" or "anti-politician." But I think we all want what’s best for America, believe in the basic values of America, and many of us have children whose future depends on America remaining free and prosperous. The term "anti-American" is politically loaded to make it seem like anyone who doesn’t support a particular set of policies somehow is opposed to the entire country. There are a few who may be that way, but the vast majority want an America that is headed in a different direction than currently.

And, of course, the issue about who is elected is clear: we have a single member district plurality system in Congress, and a plurality system (within most states) to choose an individual for President. That will lead in most cases to two parties and competition for the center. Socialists, fascists, libertarians, greens, and others who some consider ’looney’ won’t get elected in this kind of system. That creates more stability, but keeps out good as well as kooky ideas.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
James O., you’re somewhat right. (Although the dangerous idea to which the linked article is refering is the existence of international law.) McQ’s point, that vigorous disagreement and self criticism is a sign of a healthy society, is absolutely right. But it is the opposite of what the linked piece suggests. It is just asnother serving of righty pap. Another spoonful of the old theme of anti war equals anti-american and the very existence of US critics of US policies demonstrates the error of such criticism. Rah rah rah, by jingo. Of course the piece is a mess generally but that’s where it ends up, pure pap.

Slurp it up boys. The left hates America. Slurp slurp. Disent is anti-Amercan. Slurp slurp.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Are those comments anti-American? Not remotely. They’re over the top, and a condemnation of Bush. Bush is not America. This is a simple concept for you to grasp.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
P.S. Gerard Baker can write much better, this one is phoned in.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
People want to be victims of oppression in America, because what they percieve as oppression is really quite amicable here, and doesn’t cause harm to them, or repress their speech. Nonetheless, being a victim gives you the moral justification of being a rebel and fighting the "revolution", which is very romantic to leftist college students who are bored and feel guilty about their affluence and lack of sufferring.

They get to be victims just by saying that they are, and yet they don’t feel the pinch.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
Retief wrote:
(Although the dangerous idea to which the linked article is refering is the existence of international law.)
The "dangerous idea" Baker mentions is the idea that America should submit itself to the whims of nations with a much poorer standard of human rights, to satisfy critics that claim America is not properly observing human rights. The dangerous idea is about the double-standards held by some of America’s critics.

The left indulges in something analogous to the right’s sometimes exaggerated claims of "anti-Americanism," except instead of labeling their critics as anti-American, the left calls its critics "anti-children, anti-poor, anti-middle-class, anti-gay, anti-black" etc etc.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
The "dangerous idea" Baker mentions is the idea that America should submit itself to the whims of nations with a much poorer standard of human rights, to satisfy critics that claim America is not properly observing human rights honor treeaty obligations.

Fixed.

If you insists, you’re welcome to add the bit about the UN’s black helicopters are comming, slurp slurp.


Jimmy, can you really miss the irony in a person who calls himself Jimmy the Dhimmi, condemning others for pretending to victimhood?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
’The term "anti-American" is politically loaded to make it seem like anyone who doesn’t support a particular set of policies somehow is opposed to the entire country.’

Yeah, so as long as we implemented the same system as their own government, stopped eating American food and making American movies, and followed their lead in foreign policy, they would no longer be anti-American. Voila!

Hell, I had a French university exchange student in San Diego tell me to my face that the USA had no culture. I asked him why he came here then. Gallic shrug. That was in 1989 or something.

And seriously, you can smell the Euro worship and self-loathing on some of the anti-American Americans a mile away. Usually people who find Europeans more "interesting" and Americans boring. (Gwyneth Paltrow)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Fortunately, while the American system may be forgivingly tolerant of people with wild and dangerous ideas, it doesn’t generally let them run the country.
McQ. comedy gold, baby, comedy gold.

But you’re right. A guy like Chris Dodd. with the wild and whacky idea that maybe giving retroactive immunity to telecoms who broke the law selling personal info to Bush, before freaking 911 even, will never, ever become President, cuz we’re too busy learning from our rigorous self-examination.

Hell, even John McCain, former boy wonder, is never gonna make it now. He just had to stick his neck out for that wild and whacky idea of being anti-torture.

But quadrupling Gitmo! There’s some sanity for you!



Everytime you use the internet, bow your head and give silent thanks to Al Gore for helping to make it possible. For without him, we’d still be jacking off to airbrushed pictures from Playboy.

 
Written By: mario
URL: http://
The left indulges in something analogous to the right’s sometimes exaggerated claims of "anti-Americanism," except instead of labeling their critics as anti-American, the left calls its critics "anti-children, anti-poor, anti-middle-class, anti-gay, anti-black" etc etc.
Macaca! Macaca!
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
There’s the America that one might like and the America that is.

Desire for the former doesn’t mean you get to run roughshod over the latter to get it.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
If Gore had become president, there would have been no Gitmo. He would have sat down individually with each enemy combatant, looked him square in the eye, and explained that while creating a global caliphate was a fine goal, we need to fix global warming first and foremost. "We’d have passed Kyoto if it wasn’t for 9/11" was the line that caused most jihadis to break down in tears and become peaceable folk.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
There’s the America that one might like and the America that is.

Desire for the former doesn’t mean you get to run roughshod over the latter to get it.
The second line seems odd. Who’s "running roughshod" over whom? Clearly critics of policy aren’t, they’re just criticizing, they don’t have power.

James O: Yes, both sides do the same sort of thing in different ways. I really try not to; I actually think people can hold different opinions, even get in heated and sometimes emotional debates, but still respect the other person and not have to believe the other person is somehow dishonest or stupid because they think differently. However, the lowest common demoniator in the rhetoric tends to bring the discourse down to its level.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb tries this dodge:
Actually, the term "ANTI-AMERICAN" is misguided. Most of us critics of GOVERNMENT POLICY are really against what politicians are doing, we’re in that sense "anti-government" or "anti-politician."
Actually, Boris, you have always sided with America’s foreign enemies, past and present. You are an authentic anti-American in foreign affairs but your past criticism of government domestic policy has been that it’s not socialist enough. Your two consuming interests have always been anti-Americanism and socialism. What a coincidence.

Now that you’re posing as a "pragmatic libertarian" you claim, for instance, to be opposed to government health care. I suspect that’s only because you believe that "universal care" is a fait accompli and being seen wearing libertarian chic will get you some notice in the faculty lounge.

"That’s Erb, he’s for anti-statist solutions for self-reliance."

Of course, your principles are so shallow and fungible that you might actually be briefly off your socialist jag, but that could change in five minutes.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris Erb self-hypnotizes:
I actually think people can hold different opinions, even get in heated and sometimes emotional debates, but still respect the other person and not have to believe the other person is somehow dishonest or stupid because they think differently.
I don’t think that most of the many people who I’ve witnessed over more than a decade who have stood aghast at your dishonesty, Boris, hold that view as a matter of "belief." Rather, I think that they hold that view in complete and undeniable factual certitude.

The question of your stupidity is a trickier matter. That has to be understood as a product of your gross dishonesty. So, your stupidity is characterological as opposed to genetic, although there is probably a case to be made that the characterological insufficiencies are themselves somehow related to genetics. Though I don’t like to give that much away to genetic determinism, in your case the situation is so thoroughgoing that it has to be considered.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I actually think people can hold different opinions, even get in heated and sometimes emotional debates, but still respect the other person and not have to believe the other person is somehow dishonest or stupid because they think differently.
Scott — I myself try to avoid charges of dishonesty and stupidity as you say.

However, when you declared in an earlier thread that Bush liberated no one in Iraq and everyone is more endangered than they were under the gentle ministrations of Saddam Hussein, I still consider that dishonest.

You dismiss any claim that the Kurds might make to be liberated because they were "semi-autonomous." (Only because of the no-fly zones enforced by the US military and without UN approval—something that could change at any time, then what would their "semi-autonomy" get them against the poison gas of Chemical Ali?).

You dismiss the repeated polls in which a clear majority of Iraqis say that the coalition was right to invade, and even with the hardships since, it was worth it, because that’s just what the Shia and Kurds would say.

I think it’s dishonest to place your opinions above those of the Iraqi people themselves in assessing their own country and their own lives.

Furthermore, if things continue to improve in Iraq, as the violence decreases and the economy increases, will you then concede that the Iraqis are liberated? Frankly I doubt it. I don’t think you are honest enough to do so.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Huxley to Boris Erb:
will you then concede that the Iraqis are liberated? Frankly I doubt it. I don’t think you are honest enough to do so.
I don’t think that Huxley has quite turned the corner and looked this thing in the face yet. Boris does not live atop a mountain of lies, suggesting an opportunity to depart from his customary perch in search of redemption.

Boris lives beneath a mountain of lies, where if the digging began in earnest with heavy equipment, several lifetimes would still be required to reach the surface.

Jon Lovitz blushes in the presence of Boris.

Boris is the seamstress author of a fabric of lies so tightly woven that Bill Clinton would not be worthy to wear a pair of fiery pants made from it.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"Jon Lovitz blushes in the presence of Boris." Etc.

Wow, you are on a roll today. Insight and humor, always a good combination.

Love this line;
"Though I don’t like to give that much away to genetic determinism, in your case the situation is so thoroughgoing that it has to be considered"
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Ahem.

McQ,
But Baker is right - among those presenting the anti-American argument, by far the best are home-grown. And therein lies the irony:
Not in the way Baker portrays it. The simple fact is the rest of the world does not care much for your internal debate. The people who most like talking about Americans are Americans.
The truth is that America not only harbours the most eloquent and noisy anti-Americans in its own breast, it provides a safe haven for people to come from all over the world to condemn it.
Bull pucky.

Hollywood is not an enclave of anti-Americans who congregated from around the world and happened to decide on a whim to make propoganda films against America. Hollywood is the hub of the worlds English language entertainment industry and because of this gets the best talent from all over who want to work in films. What type of an absurdity leads him to think the former and deny the latter? The fact that they make "[insert prefix here]-American" film? Well Hollywood works on the basis if you want to buy it they will sell it to you and America wants to watch fluff from its own belly button.

This is America talking to itself about itself. And to the most part the world gets it. Stick a few explosions, chase scenes and fights in the action and the world will happily watch the "plucky American hero" chase down the horrible foreign devils or sinister government agency. Special effects, slick production and a killer sound track are classic Hollywood, with Baker’s apparent concern for a storyline an unrealistic notion.

Having exposed the falseness of that original "irony", it means a different conclusion needs be drawn:
And that realization leads Baker to a spot-on conclusion:
There’s a larger irony in all this. Even as the US demonstrates the openness of its own society, its unrivaled capacity for self-examination and self-correction, a free system based on the absolute authority of the rule of law, it is told it must submit itself to the views of Moscow, Beijing, and Brussels.
The only irony is the bit where anyone thinks self-esteem matters. America is not a world unto itself so no amount of self-analysis will solve all its problems, it and its laws are not seperate from the rest of the planet. Take this on board - the rest of the world exists outside of America.
It’s that latter paragraph the rest of the world never seems to be able to grasp. There is an inherent strength in a system that both allows and learns from rigorous self-examination.
Only because the rest of the world sees the self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-aggrandised stupidity such a system also produces and is pretty much stuck on that.


Now please continue with your original "he said/she said, Demo/Repub, BDS/Clinton bash" progamming.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
However, when you declared in an earlier thread that Bush liberated no one in Iraq and everyone is more endangered than they were under the gentle ministrations of Saddam Hussein, I still consider that dishonest.
Iraqis are not yet free. Women are worse off, they live in insecurity, Islamic police are in force in Shi’ite areas and many Sunni areas, and ethnic cleansing has meant that people were forced to move or be killed. That is not liberation. Under Saddam the Shi’ites did not have as much political freedom, but they had a lot more liberty in daily life, especially women. The Sunnis consider themselves worse off, and the the Kurds were already atonomous.

To become liberated, the Iraqis actually have to have freedom. We can’t give it to them, they have to build it themselves. I have doubts that this is possible in the short term, but it’s clearly up to the Iraqis. Because right now Saddam is gone, but people are not free or liberated.

The Shi’ites will say in polls that the US was right to invade, but many of them also support Shi’ite militias and repression of the Sunnis. The word "liberate" is abused (sort of like how we ’liberated’ Kuwait by turning it over to the royal Family for monarchical rule in 1991) for propagandistic purposes, and I reject that and argue against it.

Also, most Iraqis have said Americans are legitimate targets for insurgent violence, and anti-Americanism is immense. So if you really want to make Iraqi public opinion a template for what one should believe, you’re going into dangerous territory. They also want us to have a time table for when we’re going to leave, and increasingly want us to leave soon. Will you support that, if that’s what the Iraqis want?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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