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Old 11-10-2005, 10:07 AM   #1
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Anti-Americanism

http://www.hudsonreview.com/BawerSp04.html


"It is not only in the U.S. and Britain that the bookstores have lately been filled with books harshly critical of America—and that responses to these works have begun to appear. France has seen a spate of volumes with titles like Dangereuse Amérique and Après l’empire: Essai sur la décomposition du système américain; Thierry Meyssan’s L’effroyable imposture, which argues that no plane struck the Pentagon on 9/11, was a bestseller. So, however, was Jean-François Revel’s L’obsession anti-américaine, which has now appeared in the U.S. as Anti-Americanism.16 Revel’s earliest opinions of America, he tells us, were formed by “the European press, which means that my judgment was unfavorable”; yet those opinions changed when he actually visited America during the Vietnam War. Decades later, he notes wryly, the European media still employ the same misrepresentations as they did back then, depicting an America plagued by severe poverty, extreme inequality, “no unemployment benefits, no retirement, no assistance for the destitute,” and medical care and university education only for the rich. “Europeans firmly believe this caricature,” Revel writes, “because it is repeated every day by the elites.” The centrality of this point to the entire topic of European anti-Americanism cannot, in my view, be overstated. "
...
"It sometimes seems to me a miracle, frankly, that America has any friends at all in some parts of Western Europe, given the news media’s relentless anti-Americanism. There is no question that the chief obstacle to improved understanding and harmony between the U.S. and Western Europe is the Western European media establishment"
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Old 11-10-2005, 10:24 AM   #2
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Anti-americanism is a fashion - If you are Anti-American, you are cool.
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Old 11-10-2005, 10:37 AM   #3
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Like it or not, the US is the World's biggest player when it comes to the economy, the military and overall influences so it's only logical that they are subjected to the most scrutiny. I don't like the term anti-americanism being thrown around like that; most people I know have a very nuanced view of the United States.

Though it is true that Europe, in it's efforts towards decreasing the roll of the government and leaving more up to the markets and the individual, uses the situation in the US when it comes to the environment, healthcare and social issues to learn from their mistakes. If that's anti-americanism, so be it.
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Old 11-10-2005, 12:37 PM   #4
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The thing with Anti-Americanism is that too many people are writing off the entire country because of the actions of the government and the individual laws of some states. I don't like the fact that people are ignorant enough to condemn an entire country (or, in the case of alot of people i've encountered, the South of the US) and all of it's citizens based on that alone.
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by AcrobatMan
Anti-americanism is a fashion - If you are Anti-American, you are cool.
Very true.
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:01 PM   #6
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The whole term Anti-American is BS. Because it implies someone are against the people or against the country.

Therefore, to call someone Anti-American is just an unfair judgement when someone´s against the politics of the US Administration.

It´s easy to see that this term was thrown around carelessly by politicians and media, that´s why this thread exists - 10 years ago no one would´ve talked about Anti-Americanism. They like to play with fire and play out the Americans vs. rest of the world image

I´m not Anti-American.
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:03 PM   #7
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Criticizing someone else's house is also a tool to cover the problems you have in your own house.
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Criticizing someone else's house is also a tool to cover the problems you have in your own house.
You mean kinda like alleging some countries have WMDs and pose a threat to the world and then invading them and spending hundreds of billions of dollars when the money could've maybe been spent at home?
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:40 PM   #9
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A predictable FYM response
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:44 PM   #10
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Can we avoid getting into back-and-forth, knee jerk tit-for-tat here please.

Quote:
Originally posted by DrTeeth
Like it or not, the US is the World's biggest player when it comes to the economy, the military and overall influences so it's only logical that they are subjected to the most scrutiny. I don't like the term anti-americanism being thrown around like that; most people I know have a very nuanced view of the United States.
In general I agree with you, based on rather extensive (recent) travels in Europe and South Asia.

I find it funny that the mere existence of French books critical of America as a polity and a political power would be seen as proof of some kind of trendy "anti-Americanism," when at my local Borders store right now you can pick up titles like The French Betrayal of America or Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France or Let's Make Fun of the French or France, the Final Days: from the Authors of the I Hate the French Official Handbook. The last two, I might add, consist of not-at-all-nuanced ridicule of French people and French culture generally, rather than fact-based criticism of France as a political entity. And unfortunately, I suspect, there is far more of an audience here for their sentiments than for the (relatively) more measured and judicious content of the first two.

That said, I not infrequently do find myself wishing our friends abroad had a little more sympathy for the defensive exasperation most Americans feel at some point or another towards the widespread international tendency to assume that just because random bits of American news feature prominently in their own local and national media every day, therefore they know the American social and cultural landscape like the back of their hand, and are in a position to comment definitively on it. Americans can certainly be guilty of this sin as well (particularly where predominantly Muslim countries are concerned), but in general, I would feel pretty confident saying we as a people (not necessarily our government) are relatively more cautious and circumspect about appointing ourselves experts on what it's like to live elsewhere.

I would be curious to hear what some of our non-American posters think about just how possible it really is to totally separate opposition to a country's political culture from a lowered opinion of its people generally. Particularly when the country in question is a democracy and, therefore, the government must presumably to some extent reflect "the will of the people."
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:51 PM   #11
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Interesting to me that so many in the US whine about anti-Americanism, but then have absolutely no qualms about bashing other countries and people (France and the French spring to mind, as yolland has just pointed out).
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Old 11-10-2005, 03:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
That said, I not infrequently do find myself wishing our friends abroad had a little more sympathy for the defensive exasperation most Americans feel at some point or another towards the widespread international tendency to assume that just because random bits of American news feature prominently in their own local and national media every day, therefore they know the American social and cultural landscape like the back of their hand, and are in a position to comment definitively on it. Americans can certainly be guilty of this sin as well (particularly where predominantly Muslim countries are concerned), but in general, I would feel pretty confident saying we as a people (not necessarily our government) are relatively more cautious and circumspect about appointing ourselves experts on what it's like to live elsewhere.


i could not agree more.

the frequent problem i had in europe was twofold -- 1) being called to account for and explain policies and attitudes that i didn't agree with or didn't think were true (a low point was arguing, drunkenly, with an italian about banana tariffs in a bar in Helsinki), and 2) constantly being told that "americans do this" and "americans do that." this, to me, was the frequent source of a casual anti-americanism that many europeans (and others, but my experience is deepest in europe) are probably unaware of.

for example, someone telling me that he didn't like "american movies" because they were all loud and violent. well, yes, many are, but not every american film is "Pearl Harbor"; and there's also the massive American independent film world that produces among the world's finest, most introspective, most nuanced cinema. i also heard, over and over, the fact that Americans didn't know anything about their country, yet they knew lots about America, which struck me as unfair: everyone pretty much has to know something about America, whereas most people don't know that much about, say, Slovenia. or that all public schools in New York were violent. and i obviously owned a gun.

other things that ring to mind were the usual suspects -- we're over emotional, we can't speak other languages, we're fat, our food is bad, we have no culture, etc. there did seem to me an underlying assumption that European culture is more real and more refined than American culture, and this was obvious to everyone.

it comes from being overexposed.

i would posit that America is to the world like, say, New York is to the US. everyone thinks they know what a New Yorker is like, everyone thinks they know what New York looks like, everyone uses phrases like "only in New York," etc. why? because, in addition to being on film and television and occupying a mythic place in cultural memory, if anything happens in New York, it becomes national news.
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Old 11-10-2005, 03:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




i could not agree more.

the frequent problem i had in europe was twofold -- 1) being called to account for and explain policies and attitudes that i didn't agree with or didn't think were true (a low point was arguing, drunkenly, with an italian about banana tariffs in a bar in Helsinki), and 2) constantly being told that "americans do this" and "americans do that." this, to me, was the frequent source of a casual anti-americanism that many europeans (and others, but my experience is deepest in europe) are probably unaware of.

for example, someone telling me that he didn't like "american movies" because they were all loud and violent. well, yes, many are, but not every american film is "Pearl Harbor"; and there's also the massive American independent film world that produces among the world's finest, most introspective, most nuanced cinema. i also heard, over and over, the fact that Americans didn't know anything about their country, yet they knew lots about America, which struck me as unfair: everyone pretty much has to know something about America, whereas most people don't know that much about, say, Slovenia. or that all public schools in New York were violent. and i obviously owned a gun.

other things that ring to mind were the usual suspects -- we're over emotional, we can't speak other languages, we're fat, our food is bad, we have no culture, etc. there did seem to me an underlying assumption that European culture is more real and more refined than American culture, and this was obvious to everyone.

it comes from being overexposed.

i would posit that America is to the world like, say, New York is to the US. everyone thinks they know what a New Yorker is like, everyone thinks they know what New York looks like, everyone uses phrases like "only in New York," etc. why? because, in addition to being on film and television and occupying a mythic place in cultural memory, if anything happens in New York, it becomes national news.

Don't you also notice the same comments from people in the US about people in other countries? I notice it all the time. I'm not denying that there is anti-Americanism, but many Americans also despise people from other nations for no good reason either. I think it happens all over.
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Old 11-10-2005, 03:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra



Don't you also notice the same comments from people in the US about people in other countries? I notice it all the time. I'm not denying that there is anti-Americanism, but many Americans also despise people from other nations for no good reason either. I think it happens all over.


honestly, not to the same extent. but perhaps i am/was more sensitive to these comments about Americans because i am one.

but then again, you'd think that people would hold back and be polite when speaking about the US in front of me. yet, as i pointed out, it was the casual "i don't like American movies" or "it must have been hard for you, as an American, to live without a teleivison" stuff that got me the most.

i would say we certainly traffic in humorous stereotypes of other countries -- the British are uptight, the French are snobs, the Italians are over-emotional, the Japanese work too hard, etc. however, these ethnic paradoies are much different than hearing bits and pieces of information on the news and then assuming that one is an authority on the United States.

a good example of that was how the spate of school shootings in the late 1990s played out in Europe -- that, because a few schools (in a nation of 300m people, btw) had issues with this, that all American schools were violent, that this violence was then caused by a pernicious economic system, and that aren't we glad to be in our country because although your country looks exciting in the movies it really is just violent.

or so went the line of thought.

and the Schadenfreude at the 2000 election really bothered me. if i had a Euro for every time i had to deliver my "this isn't a crisis, this is democracy in action, there are no tanks on the streets and the courts will decide" speech, i would have been able to afford another train ticket to Paris.
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Old 11-10-2005, 03:51 PM   #15
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I think that anti-americanism in Europe comes from the political situation that happens right now in the States...
Here in Europe we can't understand how you voted for persons like Bush or his "teamates" and the decisions they take...
C'mon, how can you invade in a country without any serious excuses, don't ask UN
about it...I don't know what does the CNN show there, but have anyone from you heard about CIA airlines...??
I guess no...
I think that these are the causes of the anti-americanism here in Europe...
That's all, I don't want to look offensive, sorry but this is the truth...
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