Anti-Americanism is Becoming Rife

September 25, 2007 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Culture, Politics | 42 Comments
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…yet I cannot help to chuckle at this photoshoppery (I hope it is one!):

Our Oil Their Sand

Or maybe this was meant to be ironic? If they were (and this was real) then they were certainly not aware that Europeans are currently not able to read Americans (as mass phenomenon) as ironic/able to show irony. Sad but true. As such, I read this picture as an enraged outcry: How did those Arab fellows manage to snatch our oil and hide it under their sand?

Comments of the friend who sent me this confirm he sees it the same way.


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  1. Do people still like America?

    I love to read these sci-fi novels where America’s debts have been called and the country has folded in on itself, tired, defeated and inflated.

    It becomes a new Third World, rife with ignorance, guns and stupidity.

    Hey, come to think of it, it’s probably like that already?

  2. I love the idea of the US President. Some rich chump who imagines that he knows what is best for the whole world.
    Team America World Police was the film of our times. It captures this naive cowboy mentality. As if America’s way is the only way. As if America even has a culture.
    Guns are not culture. McDonalds is not culture.
    Uncle Sam is a great graphic novel. It shows the decline of America, and the lie of the American Dream.

  3. It’s a schizophrenic split, I guess. Europeans still love Hollywood and its mythology, U.S. American celebrities and who wouldn’t like to live in California or New York, given the opportunity? The ignorance of the Bush administration that manifests itself daily (e.g. today in the U.S. American decision to not attending the climate hearings at the UN HQ) is a different story, with a long tail to follow it.

  4. Team America was a blast:-)

  5. If I made a list of places of interest in the world, America wouldn’t even make the list.
    The landscape might once have been nice, but their flim-flam culture sickens me. They’d Disneyfy the world if they could.
    The whole US celebrity scene, politics etc have never interested me. It’s just a lot of hot air.

  6. And as for movies… Re-hash, re-hash, re-hash.
    I rejoice when they make something really worth watching but this is so incredibly rare.
    The film industry is run by the likes of Spielberg and Lucas, who pale in comparison to Lean or Hitchcock. No wonder the current releases are so appalling.
    HBO are about the most interesting film/tv company at present. They’re taking chances and shaking things up.
    Hollywood has drowned in its own bullshit?

  7. Yeah, but you’re a Thai Chi guru. If the world were full of Thai Chi gurus and disciples (and I am not thinking of the people quenching their thirst for a bit of Eastern spirituality with it), there would be no Disneyland.

  8. […] the stage where a majority thinks that homosexuality is an aberration. Maybe as an addendum to the Anti-Americanism post yesterday, one should mention that American universities are places where such talks as possible, exposing […]

  9. Hahahaha…. this is hillarious 🙂

  10. I promised myself I wouldn’t get involved in an online chat today because I have to get caught up reading Wuthering Heights and the Awakening for Thurs.

    But I must ask, what do we mean when we ask if people like America?

    As a continent, it’s rather pretty and diverse. Forests, deserts, prairies, and snow.

    As a nation-state with a plutocratic government that commits infamy abroad and at home, it is an excrescence.

    As a people itself it is, much like anywhere, a great variety. Some are benighted, some enlightened. There are many poor.

    We have irony, and regularly call it the constitution. Or what’s left of it.

    It makes a lot of sense that the world resent America. My worry is that in resenting America in an unfocused way, you make citizens of the United States who believe and work toward international solidarity part of an abstraction that affirms the us versus them mentality that some Americans find so shameful in the exceptionalism of the government of the United States, and, sadly, in a number of its people.

    We have anarchists, socialists, communists, and every now and again a decent democrat. These people are America, too.

    Come stay with me in Chicago. I’ll give you a tour.

  11. How to stop yourself using stereotypes? It’s impossible and on a very basic level it makes a lot of sense on the level of cognition. It allows you to make differences – very often people are aware that they are using a stereotype, and are using it nonetheless.

    In German, there is a specific ironic way of doing that, and an equivalent of this exists in probably every language. One would say “Der Amerikaner an sich” which more or less means “The American in himself… (does this and that).”

    Most of the time (and this holds true for me and possibly also for the Voice from the Void – although he might claim it’s different) the people who use such stereotypes do this in spite of the fact that they do know individuals who do NOT behave stereotypically. I know you and at least a dozen other, non-stereotypical Americans, and of course there are anarchists, socialists, etc, etc.

    So on a cognitive level, using stereotypes, applying reduction, makes sense. On a political level it also makes sense – most powerfully illustrated by the man George W. Bush himself: It’s us or them. You’re either with us or against us.

    And I guess a citizen of such a country who has twice voted for such a president will to some extent have to learn live with the fact that other people from other countries are going to develop funny ideas about him before they get to him, and keep up these ideas about the country as a whole even after they get to know him.

    And only if that country in question changes will this attitude change, and that is going to take decades even.

    I as a German, who has been openly confronted with suspicions about Germany being a fascist country or even open suspicions that I might be a Nazi numerous times, I can reassure you it will take a long while and it’s going to annoy you and the only thing you personally can do against it is to NEVER become what people think you might be, as an American or German 🙂

  12. I consider the latter being something that I owe history and the world. If Germany killed this obscene number of people in the 3rd Reich, and if the developed this sick ideology, then it is on me to make sure such things won’t happen again. That’s where history catches up with me, and I think it’s good that way. In this sense, I accept collective guilt for myself.

  13. I’ll do my best. 🙂

    My reservation about stereotypes is less at the cognitive level where the sterotype remains the property of the person having the cognition–who is of course entitled to whatever stereotypes she or he chooses. Some of which being necessary.

    My concern is that some stereotypes take on an objective life of their own. They go out and about in the world beyond the control of any individual’s cognition. They martial consensus for a lot of questionable projects.

    In the US, for example, Iraq is equated with 9/11 along racist lines and thus some Americans embrace a stereotype that grows beyond the people with whom it began.

    I appreciate that people will and do have assumptions about what kind of political animal an American is. You’re right, certainly, about NOT being what they think we might be. I hope we are always better.

  14. Didn’t see your last before I posted.

    There are sadly many parallels between the 3rd Reich and the US government. For example we’ve done away with habeas corpus, and believe in extraordinary rendition. We spy on people at home and abroad. We engage in aggressive wars without provocation.

    I think that accepting collective guilt is something I’ll need to learn about. Something the US needs to learn about. There is some good politics in it. We are guilty even if we’ve been saying not in our name all along.

  15. I think that people tend to stereotype America because our main source of information about America is the media (an avenue which America excels at producing).
    Unfortunately, much of what we hear and read is pretty damned scary stuff.
    America nukes people, they arm one side to wage war against another, then switch sides.
    They offer international aid in return for pro-American sentiments…
    The whole communist/capitalist business is really frightening.
    Anyone who doesn’t support ‘screw thy neighbour’/’everyman for himself’ is the enemy, a communist? They’ll get blown up and re-educated.
    Was exactly was the Gulf War about? Or Vietnam? Or the Korean conflict?
    I just don’t get it.
    This confusion of contradictory behaviours, low educational standards, gun culture, serial killers, mad politicians, celebrities and ignorance presents a picture of America that scares the rest of the world.
    America seems to be like a big, fat dumb child with his own shotgun, no morals and an attitude problem.
    Whilst I am certain that a vast number of American citizens are wonderful people, your national image really sucks.

  16. @void: We’re in agreement.

  17. Read Twain, Cooper and Melville and watch Oz and Homicide: you’ll see that plenty of Americans are just the same as anyone and in some ways more enlightened.

  18. Guns aside, you mean?

  19. Look i’m not trying to defend Americanism void. There’s lots about the US that sucks. but you shouldnt underestimate American people that’s all i’m saying.

  20. It seems to me as if the outcome of such a contemplation is decisively influenced by the question whether we are talking about
    (as in “America seems to be like a big, fat dumb child with his own shotgun, no morals and an attitude problem”)
    (as in “Twain, Cooper and Melville” or “anarchists, socialists, communists, and every now and again a decent democrat”).

    While I do believe in the decency of Americans (as much as I do believe in the decency of Germans – and Germany has some irritating citizens, too), I am scared shitless by the prospect of America starting up a war at will wherever it pleases, just because it can (and gets so high on its own power).

  21. Sadly, although your distinction adds some degree of clarity, it sidesteps one point: America is populated by Americans.
    How can you distinguish between the two? Have not Americans created America?

  22. I feel that America is the product of the American Dream.
    The dream sounds lovely until you realise what it really means is ‘aggressive promotion of your own agenda and values’.
    It means taking anything you want, with no consideration of consequence.
    It means subjugating anyone who speaks against you.
    It means using force rather than diplomacy.

  23. So long as selfishness and greed remain the driving force behind America, practiced by enough Americans to sustain its impetus, then those genuinely friendly Americans will never be heard.
    Nationalism, patriotism…
    These words are bigotted in nature and advocate the promotion of self over other.
    The web has paved the way for a new kind of being, free of race, nationality, gender bias and sexual oppression.
    America has embraced diversity and encouraged dialogue.
    Now it needs to set-aside greed, reject selfishness and put away those nukes, spy satellites, warships, submarines, smart bombs.

  24. Is this the future of America?

  25. Regarding this questions:

    ‘How can you distinguish between the two? Have not Americans created America?’

    That’s a simple distinction. The whole is more/something else than the sum of its parts.

    Masses behave different than individuals, a society is not a positive sum of its citizens – even if the ideology of democracy might have it that way.

    Actually, I think you could take all available sociological, psychological, socio-psychological, socio-philosophical, economical and sociocultural and historical (and probably more) theories and you would still end up merely conceding this difference, but would not be able to explain clearly how the one relates to another.

  26. He ho! The american claims to be a land or freedom, and opportunity. Of democracy. I think they should address their own country first before telling others what to do. Having a big gun does not make you a big man. We have saying:- man with big gun has small penis. America has very loud voice but has it got anything worth listening to?

  27. Ok, Anaj has a valid point here. The ideals of Americans are not necessarily manifested via America. The best laid plans etc… I accept this.

    I still think that money runs the show, and that commerce is all about greed, stupidity and selfishness.

    In the UK we had lots of state-owned systems in the 1970’s.
    Thatcher emulated the US by privatising everything she could, and making people pay. Those with wealth got wealthier, those without money got poorer.
    This led to the ‘baby boomer’ property situation whereby a young couple can’t afford to buy a decent house whilst baby boomers are holidaying non-stop, living it large and buying second and third homes.
    England is ripe for change, but unfortunately each passing year it takes a step closer to being America.

  28. Anaj I think your ‘the whole is never just the sum of the parts’ is a true reflection.

    For me I think it’s fair to say that Europeans created America.

    I just feel that peolple do themselves a disservice by rampant hatred of America and Bush.

    You have to be able to look beyond such things, to see the reality underneath. Otherwise you’re just kidding yourself:inventing the notion of stupid, fat americans who think all blacks should be killed and that hamburgers, lexus’s and oil are the hoily trinity, all so as you can flatter yourself that your own life is more intelligent, profund and interesting than it is.

    I remember when Bush got re-elected by cheating again, and the little Englanders were up in arms about it. Seems to me the Little Englanders would have been devestated if he had gone; they need him so much, they love to hate him.

  29. I think this whole global politic thing is to my mind a little bit silly.
    We sit in front of our computer and we say this and we say that and none of us really know.
    Where do we get our information?
    Oh yes, the media. Well, that’s a reliable source, now, isn’t it, eh?
    If we say we have a handle on the global politic then we kid ourselves I think. It reminds me of Goethe’s Faust (or is it in Dr Faustus?) where Faust seeks to assume the mantle of god. The absurdity of knowing?

  30. Again: Being a German, and Germany having a dark history, I think there is absolutely no need for being polite and complacent. Millions of people got killed and burnt in ovens in Germany because for too many years nobody outside of Germany wanted to believe that it really was as bad as it seemed. They thought of the good people they knew in Germany and though: “Ah, I m sure this is not true. If it were, my friend XYZ would surely do something about it. This must be an exaggeration. Also, we shouldn’t put our diplomatic relations with Germany at risk.”

    I think the only possible response to things like Guantanamo, gun trigger happiness and a mad president who wants to wage war against all Muslim countries is rampant hatred.

  31. @Abelardo: I don’t think I have a handle on global politics, quite on the contrary, I know I don’t. Bush and the likes are going to do what they please, as they have always done.

    But please let’s not start the ‘Can we trust the media?’ discussion. Of course we can’t. Yet drawing the conclusion that we better shut up and wait until the truth turns out (which it never will) is just the type of response that this system encourages.

  32. I don’t think that apathy is the answer, any more than seeking to fight the system within the system is either…

    Neither approach works.

    Perhaps what we need to do is make those people who represent us responsible for their conduct?
    If politicians acted for the good of humanity, we’d live in a different world.
    Sadly, they don’t.
    Nor do we really want governments that follow the will of the masses.In the UK, the masses are led by the nose. The Sun newspaper says hate, they’ll hate.

    Hatred is never an answer. I don’t think that it solves anything. Hate comes from fear.
    Instead of hatred, we need a political system that works. That, sadly, is a contradiction in terms.

  33. I am not even able to must a proper hatred, but if I were, I’d still say it’d be the appropriate response to Guantanamo. In myself, it’d probably manifest itself as disdain rather, yet there are certain things that are not acceptable, and I think that it _is_ acceptable to hate war.

    To make up for the failed political system.

  34. And in any case: I AM afraid of America, so there you have your fear.

  35. There are different kinds of things that we call fear.
    Is it fearful to be apprehensive about fire, having once been burned?
    Is that fear at all?
    Is it not ‘common sense’, respect, based upon a cause-effect memory?
    Your fear of America is understandable. The American militia has brutalised various ‘enemies’ because America is afraid of them.
    See? This is a different kind of fear to yours, Anaj. What did America have to fear from the Vietnamese? Come on, they were peasants. Farmers.
    America exists in a climate of fear, and if you believe the likes of Michael Moore, this fear is created by the US arms industry in order to make money.

  36. And as for hatred. That is a tough one. I know people who claim to ‘fight for peace’. They go on Hate Marches (my name, not theirs) and protest various wars.
    But they do not win people over with love, compassion, understanding…
    They shout angrily, they wave fists in the air and vent their own personal frustrations. The march is about their own personal agenda, not the cause they are opposing.
    You cannot fight for peace, and hatred is part of fighting because hatred is conflictive.
    Peace comes when hatred stops, when conflict ceases, when war ends.
    To finish wars, stop fighting. Stop hating.
    Do not hate people. Do not make them your enemies. Instead, show them what they have done. Help them to understand. If they understand, they will feel shame.
    Wars do not end wars. America paid for Hiroshima and Nagasaki by turning its own country into a battlefield and terrifying the whole world. The war never ended.

  37. Do not hate people – right, but once again, we are not dealing with individuals, and I honestly debate the statement that America turned its country into a battlefield. Go to Iraq if you want to see a battle field. It’s more like they’re making the rest of the world pay.

    I don’t hate people – I guess hate (Abelardo brought that term in) is not what I feel, rather frustration and helplessness. One could say anger, yet I wouldn’t say it’s the type of anger one can get by by saying ‘let your anger go’. No simple recipes here.

    And in any case, my frustration isn’t aimed at individuals. But please:

    >Do not make them your enemies.

    Sorry, but such ready-made advice is useless here. This is not a confrontation between individuals, this is about certain groups, powers, classes and ideologies that consider the rest of their world their sandbox. You don’t even get to choose whether you want to be an enemy or not.

  38. I’m going to jump back in quickly. That last point about it being certain groups, powers, classes and ideologies that consider the rest of the world their sandbox (apt metaphor) is exactly right. I worry that when the discussion of America stays too general the specificity of pernicious hegemonic classes against whom we can organize and blinded subaltern classes whom we can organize (with) is obscured. It’s not, therefore, whether they’re are good Americans. It’s the old question, which side are you on? I’m with the world.

    But I’ll own the fact that I’m an American, just like I own being white, and own being a male–two facts that grant me forms of privilege and power regardless of whether I ever asked for them, which I surely did not. America as represented by the bourgeoisie is terrifying and will be so until they’re interests, indeed, the interests of global capital, can be effaced.

    What hurts is the feeling of impotence. But maybe it’s a pain that I can learn from?

    As for Geothe’s Faust he never assumes the mantle of god. He is redeemed by the eternal feminine, or perhaps through his incessant striving, or maybe just because the game is fixed in the “prologue in heaven.” It’s unclear. What is clear is that like a good bourgeois he acts upon the idea that “What he perceives, that he may seize.” And dies savoring his “striving’s crown and sum.” Earthly to the last. Static heaven as a telos is going to be as limiting to the romantic mind as Faust’s study in Night.

  39. Faust is a materialist, with one hell of a tutor.

  40. This makes sense to me:

    (There is an echo of Anaj’s sandbox on the second page).

    The danger with politics and with business is that they take the partial view of things, which is understandable since no human can take every factor into account.

    Thinking big is the problem. Change must be small and it needs to happen on a one-to-one basis.

    If you want to persuade America to pull out of the global sandbox, you need to change the American people. If they are unwilling to put up with the American militia and they do do something about it, there may be global change. It is their country, after all…

    Meanwhile, global sanctions against America, boycotting products, marches etc – will these do anything?

  41. Who is going to boycott the USAof A? Practically all countries (with the exceptions being Cuba, North Korea and Russia) are too afraid of their economical power, and Central Europe still feels indebted to them for bombing away Hitler.

    And marches? Do you think anybody in the white house took note of the white linen that was put up as a sign of protest in seemingly every house in Europe during the first Gulf war?

    As a matter of fact, Bush reportedly felt flattered by this caricature in the cover of German news magazine SPIEGEL:

  42. Wasn’t that his point? Protests, boycotting etc are inane.

    Nothing that you do will have any effect whatsoever. The last real event to shake up America was 9-11 and that was just awful.
    Is that what it takes? I hope not.

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