Email: darkblogules at yahoo dot com
All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.
What's in the banner?
Friday, April 09, 2004
James Taranto (and several others) links to this book review in the Asia Times. In it, John Parker (an American living in Vietnam) unleashes his atomic-powered thesaurus on the forces of anti-Americanism while reviewing Anti-Americanism (L'obsessian anti-Americaine) by Jean-Francois Revel (now available in English).
Parker compares anti-Americanism to a religious cult:
Parker is dead-on about that. I've often thought that many Leftist beliefs serve as a kind of religion. Their basic dogma---capitalism bad, Kyoto good, etc---is accepted without question, even in the face of refuting evidence. But the religion's primary purpose, as far as I can tell, is to make the believer feel superior. It's pious to be for the Poor, for the Earth, against Racism, without once ever having to think about what damage your simple-minded solutions might do. It's enough to be one of the Good People, to have good intentions, even when they lead to disastrous results.
This behavior is not confined to the Left, of course, but conservative religious fanatics tend to be...well, religious.
Revel, Parker says, points out something that I've noticed for a long time now:
Amen, brother. I refer you to (as Parker goes on to mention) constant French accusations of "arrogance" (which sit no better in the mouths of Britons or Germans), Arab and East Asian cries of "racism" (I don't know about Vietnam, but Japan and Korea certainly aren't known for their enlightened attitudes toward their indigenous minorities), and (especially) Saudi Arabian indignation towards "religious persecution" of Muslims. I've also heard the US accused of being a "police state" by citizens of countries which do not have the anywhere near the tender concern for civil liberties that the US does.
I used to think that they expected better of us because we expected better of ourselves. After all, the US claims to be "the land of the free", and when we do not quite live up to that ideal, that's grounds for legitimate criticism---more so, say, than some other country that does not make that claim.
But after a while I realized these critics weren't really interested in us living up to our hopes, but only down to theirs. They were so busy pointing out the motes in our eye that they had no time to spare for the beams in others'.
I don't think much of the examples given here. Revel might have a point about the employment figures, but I would say that this was more an example of the French press trying to gin up another round of "the failure of capitalism", rather than sheer anti-Americanism (although the two often go hand-in-hand). And the bit about the Spirit (which is so recent it must be Parker's contribution) belongs under "If it bleeds, it leads." Once it stops malfunctioning, it's no longer news (I never heard about its recovery from the American media, either, until it started to discover things).
But that doesn't mean Revel's not right. This sort of thing showed up occasionally in the Sydney Morning Herald's TV listings, where the "What's on Tonight" snippet would sometimes make offhand sneering comments about American culture, and occasionally pops up as a non-sequitur in Guardian articles.
This ought to be a hanging offense, by the way. Overused.
Actually, we might wonder when the Roman Empire got such a bad rap. A century ago it was considered a bastion of civilization in a barbarian world. When did this change?
Now here's an interesting question. I believe that most critics of the WoT know that Bin Laden's war is unwinnable, and therefore we shouldn't fight it. The result is something akin to a pack of jackals watching some rats try to kill an elephant. The jackals know the rats can't possibly succeed, but they enjoy the sight of the mighty elephant in distress. So they tell the elephant to keep still, that the rats aren't really hurting it, that if a rat gets killed, it'll only make the rest mad. Most never dream that the rats can succeed, that the elephant's seeming inertia will only draw more rats, and those that do never think of the consequences of the death of the elephant, or realize the rats will soon be hungry again.
But now enjoy with me, friends, what seems to be the heavy hand of an editor:
Parker goes on to say that the book's flaws lie in a lot of repetition, and the fact that Revel takes many of his examples from French sources which tend to be unfamiliar to a wider audience.
There's much more. Go ye and read of it.