Wednesday, August 23, 2006

America hating

A particularly genuine and likable Aussie, and frequent commenter, Davo, emailed me an explanation of the mounting migraine that has come to dwell with thoughtful Australians on account of their disappointment with the way America has thrown its weight around more than it has shown leadership:
...one of the points that had intended to make in my post about "why do i
hate America" was the fact that even though people like yourself are
whinging about the "current" situation, it has been going on for a VERY
long time, this antipathy, antagonism, created by american arrogance.
Sometimes there seems to be a bit of Cabernet on his keyboard but I'm damned if his perception is not stone sober. He's right I suppose: a view from the outside is always so much more clear. One thing he particularly wanted to point out was that Americans didn't just start being overbearingly "benign" with the Bush presidency.

The reward progressives get for being aware of the bloody bootprints and the resented ease with which we formerly bought influence in less developed nations is to be called "America haters" by cheap tricks and loud mouths who profit only from outraged complacency. The struggle to have a more informed and realistic view of our place in the world does not make liberals haters of America's past or present. Who here is old enough to remember the old "my mother, drunk or sober!" sloganizing of the Viet Nam war era? There is nothing new here. What dismays me is having to fight the same old fight with these ignorant fools. I do not want to become a mourner for America's potential.

That trend of arrogance is long running: before we "stopped communism" in Viet Nam['75?], before "Ugly American" was published[1958]. The fortunate combination of natural resources, expatriot european physicists and lack of battles fought on our soil that left us strong and victorious at the end of WWII went to our heads in the worst way: we took it as a sign of god's election of our noble ways, a just reward for our superiority. Every conquering nation before us had the same delusions. What angers Davo saddens me...I live in a country that could f__k up cold beer. We had all the lessons on the table after Viet Nam. Did we learn one damn thing? Not so's you'd notice.

Before you can do evil, you must become smug.

I cannot entirely excuse my brilliant self. I have always felt this was a special country, a better model of how a people can live well by working hard and governing themselves fairly. That belief is tattered now, badly shaken by the abuse of wealth and power that Republicans call a kinder and gentler conservatism. But when did I notice the arrogance? It is one thing to think you have a better way and quite another to assume it works for everyone else and force it down their throats...so I came to think as the Viet Nam war ground to a halt. Much later I understood that conflicts like that do not arise because the idealism of one population is at odds with the idealism of another: that difference can only be used to sustain a will to fight but never starts the fight. It is just a tool for leaders who have been counseled that war is in the best interests of their advisors and supporters. And these advisors and supporters include idealogues, men and women burdened with a grotesquely arrogant form of the same idealism they will tap to recruit the population. The interests of the ideologues and counselors for war is neither shared by the majority of their own nations people nor considerate in any humane way about the lives of people in other nations. What a gift Bin Laden gave these bastards. And Bin Laden was, in a way, returning a favor, a professional courtesy between arrogant armageddonists who otherwise have trouble rousing working people who'd rather put up with arrogance than make war.

4 comments:

Ed W said...

There's another effect of the idea that 'you're with us or against us' mentality that insists that if we don't support the administration and its policies, we're aiding and abetting terrorists. It permits the committed right-wing ideologues to hate their own countrymen, other Americans who disagree with Republican policies. Hate is a poison. Right wing talk radio foments it no less than Al Jazeera.

GreenSmile said...

Yup, Ed, thats exactly how the gears turn in American politics today.

Davo said...

You make some good points, Greensmile. I have to say, though, that when I use the term "America" or "the USA" it is more about reaction to an "image" rather than any specific person, group of people, or events.

The whole subject is extremely complex.

JahTeh said...

I agree with Davo that it's an image of America rather than specific people.
The rest of the world doesn't like being told what to do by a Government that can't look after it's own people eg. Katrina's aftermath, not just the storm but the re-building and treatment of the displaced.