Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How to be an anti-anti-American

Every single one of us who frequent this blog has been called 'anti-American' or a variation thereof in recent months, so I was wondering how some people reach this determination and my surfing has revealed one man's opinion of why America is the greatest country on earth - bar none - which exemplifies those views that are oft embraced by some of those who consider us The Enemy.

Now, Dinesh D'Souza's article, '10 things to celebrate; Why I'm an anti-anti-American' (2003), can simply be written off as a more naive picture of The Great America but his perceptions are shared by many who decry criticism of their home country and consider any attack on its stance in the world as being wholly 'anti-American'. So, let's have a look at what he believes are America's strengths. I'll pull some quotes without commenting on them too much because his talking points are stunningly obvious to those of us who don't wear nationalistic blinders:

1. 'America provides an amazingly good life for the ordinary guy...We now live in a country where construction workers regularly pay $4 for a nonfat latte, where maids drive nice cars and where plumbers take their families on vacation to Europe.'

2. 'America offers more opportunity and social mobility than any other country, including the countries of Europe. America is the only country that has created a population of "self-made tycoons."'

3. 'Work and trade are respectable in America. Historically most cultures have despised the merchant and the laborer, regarding the former as vile and corrupt and the latter as degraded and vulgar. Some cultures, such as that of ancient Greece and medieval Islam, even held that it is better to acquire things through plunder than through trade or contract labor.'

4. 'America has achieved greater social equality than any other society. True, there are large inequalities of income and wealth in America. In purely economic terms, Europe is more egalitarian. But Americans are socially more equal than any other people, and this is unaffected by economic disparities.'

5. 'People live longer, fuller lives in America.'

(Has your head exploded yet? No. Well wait, there's more.)

6. 'In America the destiny of the young is not given to them, but created by them.'

(I took a break to Dress Paris Hilton. Now, where was I again?)

7. 'America has gone further than any other society in establishing equality of rights.'

8. 'America has found a solution to the problem of religious and ethnic conflict that continues to divide and terrorize much of the general, America is the only country in the world that extends full membership to outsiders.'

9. 'America has the kindest, gentlest foreign policy of any great power in world history...Twice in the 20th century, the United States saved the world -- first from the Nazi threat, then from Soviet totalitarianism. What would have been the world's fate if America had not existed?'

(Cough cough Booman cough cough)

10. 'America, the freest nation on Earth, is also the most virtuous nation on Earth.'

Okay, if you haven't thrown up yet (which I very nearly did when I first read that piece) you can see the type of attitude many of us have been dealing with and why it's so difficult to cut through, even with the most sharpened intellectual knife. And this particular author believes so greatly in what he professes that he actually wrote a book for his devotees of American Greatness that they can cherish and reread as if it's America's New Bible! I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he's actually turned it into an animated movie for kids so they can be reared 'appropriately' to love their country more than they will ever love themselves.

His points may seem exagerrated to anyone with a sense of reality, but there is no doubt that he has simply expressed what many people believe to be The Truth.

So, that's what we're up against folks: Denials 'R Us. No wonder we've been shunned as threats to the Great American Experience.

America, the Beautiful? Or, America, the Delusional? You decide.


dove said...

It's a faith tradition. I don't mean that as mockery: whether religious or irreligious most people have things that they take as matters of faith. One of my matters of faith is that nurture takes precedence over nature.

And for many people -- including quite a lot who live outside the borders of the U.S. since the colonisation of the mind is a powerful thing -- the particular beliefs highlighted here are evidently among those held as matters of faith. In such circumstances no amount of evidence of flourishing the HDI, leaving will convince them otherwise. Only they can decide what they want to believe and who they want to believe is human.

The most one can hope to do is tweak how those beliefs are expressed.


DuctapeFatwa said...

you are right as usual, dove. That is exactly what it is.

And predictably, I have an old blogrant:

There is a popular fallacy loose in the United States, that "America" means the guy at the convenience store counter, the family who lives next door, the people buying popcorn at the Magic Johnson Theatre, the girl who took your lunch order, your child's teacher.

America, some mistakenly believe, is apple pie and spring festivals and face painters and clowns and Hollywood spectaculars. It is not skateboard tournaments and liberty and justice for all.


America means mega-corporations who make large amounts of money from the blood and sweat and bones of those listed above, and millions of others all over the world, most of them living lives of worse misery than any of the above can even imagine.

America means death squads, brutal hordes of torturers and sexual predators, hopped up and let loose on half-starved populations with no defensive weapons to speak of, save what they can steal or cobble together as the tanks roll down their street.

America means marvelous new landmines who can blow children to bits from an exciting 300 meters.

America means microwave pain rays, to cook the flesh of any who would dare oppose BTK as foreign policy.

America means murdering journalists, and forcing anyone who mentions the fact to resign.

America means that if you are poor, you are fucked, and if you are not rich, you are about to be poor.

America means that your serious disease, your horrific injury, is a terrific business opportunity for rich men who want to be richer.

America means sending people to Syria to be tortured, and then criticizing human rights in Syria.

America means occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond, to one degree or another, funding Israeli occupation of Palestine, while decrying Syrian military presence in Lebanon.

And the list goes on.

To oppose any of this is to be anti-American. A terror apologist. With the terrorists. An obstructionist, a rejectionist, a conspiracy theorist, anti-business, socialist, a terrorist.

And to be anti-American is not pragmatic.

Proudly Anti-American Link

Nanette said...

Quite a rant, Ductape! I bet that one went over big too ;)

I think D'Souza is an immmigrant, if I'm thinking of the right person. And not only that, but a non white one apparently raised in a conservative Catholic tradition, and he is very much a public conservative himself.

Non of the first things are all that unusual, especially considering the wide reach of not only the Catholic church but also the various Protestant ones in many colonized countries, but in order to achieve the last... being a public, referenced and respected by conservatives conservative, it seems to me that for non whites (and especially immigrants) it's the same as in any other venue... you must be two or three times more so anything in order to even be considered adequate.

Thus, you have people like D'Souza who are super-duper "patriotic", white supremacists, Western supremacists, anti-minority and the bearer boys and disseminators of American mythotholy about the "American Dream". The biggest, the greatest, the most generous, the only saviour, the only one with freedom, the only etc, etc, etc.

In exchange they are funded through right wing think tanks and foundations for putting a brown face on some really execrable policies (wingnut welfare, as it's known ;).

Still, Americans ... and I would say Americans as opposed to USAuns because I think it's something that sort of spreads beyond our shores in the Americas and most likely elsewhere... are inundated with this stuff from birth. At least, we used to be, although it apparently doesn't seed as well in some. And some actively reject it as well, once they are older.

But we've seen how close to the surface it really is, lately. I imagine it's sort of like a familiar security blanket that one grabs on to to pull over one's head when too much reality starts intruding.

James said...

As the old saying goes, denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

So it goes.

As Nanette notes, this is the stuff we're given as official state propaganda from the day we're born.

Very few of us get exposed to much of anything else - maybe little tidbits here and there, like dad saying that the Indians weren't the ones who developed the practice of scalping, etc.

To challenge such deeply held assumptions is simply alien to most Americans.

catnip said...

I find American attachment to symbols like documents and monuments rather fascinating. The poor old Constitution is whipped out by all sides in every public debate. Of course, being a Canadian with a Charter of Rights that is still fairly new, that seems quite foreign to me. Still we're not in the habit (yet, maybe) of slamming others over the head with it according to our interpretation. And I'll bet you won't find many Canadians who can name or who much less care about the Fathers of Confederation as if they were some kind of modern day saints with omnipotent wisdom for the ages. (There may be some crochety history types - not all history types are crochety - who know all that those men said, but they're few and far between). America is very steeped in tradition and that's a hard habit to overcome.

(O/T: I need to start a blog to complain about the hordes of trolls who've invaded my space this past week; somewhere where I can just be a screaming banshee for a while. Holy macaroni. Wingnuts are tiring.)

James said...

Yo catnip. I'd noticed the troll invasion over at your space lately - some cats who really need to get their shit together.

Every now and again I'll get a mini-swarm of fly-by trolls, usually on those rare occasions when some right-wing site like Real Clear Politics (and by clear, those motherfuckers mean like spilt oil) picks up one of my blog entries.

supersoling said...

why don't we set up a Flog the Trolls night or day for your blog, where we get enough of us together and go over there and just overwhelm them with logic until smoke starts blowing out of their wart covered little green ears? :o)

catnip said...

They seem to be immune to logic as a weapon. I've tried.

Real Clear(ly Conservative) Politics has picked up some of my posts too. Not exactly sure how they found me. I suppose they need us "minorities" in an effort to make their site "fair & balanced". ;)