Anti-Americanism--is the pendulum swinging back?
Davids Medienkritik, a blog that focuses on German-American relations and news, has for a long time been pointing out how and why the German media seems addicted to flogging anti-Americanism to its readers (or is it the other way around, and the current anti-Americanism of the majority of Germans fuels the market for such fare?). At any rate, reading this blog gave me my first graphic indications of how far America's image had plunged in the popularity polls of other countries once thought friendly to us, and how foreign media has taken an active hand in that process.
Here Davids Medienkritik offers an English translation of "The World's Bellyache" by Jan Ross, an article published in Die Zeit that summarizes the state of global anti-Americanism. What's remarkable in this is the very fact that it has been written--in Germany, no less--and that finally others in the German media (besides Davids Medienkritik) are noticing and documenting the extent of the phenomena (including the media's biased hand in it) and beginning to explore and question it.Meanwhile, a friend sent me a link to this essay by Neil Macdonald that appeared in the Canadian press, entitled "On American Decency." My friend, an ex-pat American working for a university in the Middle East, said it made her feel better about being an American. Granted, she is in the trenches of anti-Americanism. To me, Macdonald's essay just summed up some of the obvious facts of why the worst of the currently fashionable anti-Americanism is sheer mean-spirited and ignorant bigotry (or purposely driven by doctrinaire anti-capitalism or fundamentalist Islam). But I was glad to see it written, just as I was glad to see this video not too long ago (pointed at from the blog, BritainandAmerica): "A World Without America."
It is not so much that Americans "want to be loved" as it is they just want to be given a fair shake--not lied about, slandered, kicked in the teeth for their generosity. We have a pretty good idea now what sort of people, both inside and outside of America, enjoy doing that kind of kicking.
Thanks largely to the internet and fueled in its first wave by blogs around the world, I think the pendulum now pointing toward rabid, dogmatic anti-Americanism is starting to swing back into the zone of rationality and more honest and balanced discourse. America is not perfect, but it is also nowhere near among the worst powers in the world. America is just the biggest power, and that in itself brings out a lot of nuts and cranks. Because it is a big and a benevolent power dedicated to freedom, nuts, cranks, and dissidents of all stripes and nationalities are free to use us as a punching bag they know won't punch back--and to use America as an excuse to "solve" or salve a host of their own personal problems.
America may rarely be unthinkingly admired around the world, if indeed it ever was--just as the French will never again be unthinkingly admired in America as they were back in the "American in Paris" heydays. But I believe more and more people will turn to a better-reasoned and informed view of our country and that kneejerk, emotional anti-Americanism will run its course and take on the tarnish it deserves.
Maybe even more people will rethink their views and start to say, along with The Anti-Subjugator: "Thanks America"--
If there was any justice in the world, the rest of the free world would provide money to fund the American military, and hand over a cheque with a BIG SMILE. Instead, what do we see? Protests in places like South Korea. Unbelievable. How you can put up with the South Koreans is beyond me. The fact that you do put up with them, with a smile, exemplifies the inner beauty of the American soul. Thanks America!
And then there's the fact that after defeating an enemy, instead of rubbing his nose in the dirt, you instead show great magnimity and help him to his feet, immediately, ala Germany and Japan. You show that the best way to defeat an enemy is to turn him into a friend. You teach that we should judge people by their current behaviour, not past bad behaviour. If only the rest of the world could learn from America. But instead most of the rest of the world maintains grudges for centuries, transferring guilt to perfectly innocent people, and pretending to inherit suffering and permanent victimhood. If only people would adopt the American way, the world would be so much better. What can I say? Nothing. I am humbled in the face of American largesse. Thanks America!
UPDATE: "British Reparations" - when another country gets treated as America does, the comedy is obvious.