Web UpdateUpping tha Anty

We’ve been told the Bush administration has not created,
but solidified anti-Americanism across the globe. The war in Iraq
has highlighted the chasm between Bush’s America and its
allies, displaying the ideological and political divorce
proceedings we in the press loosely call, “the Bush
administration’s foreign policy.”

As Americans, we are accustomed to being loathed for our crude
ways and detachment from haute culture. We expect countries to hate
our excess, our capitalism and accuse us of arrogance and
insolence. But even as we experience a seemingly worldwide hatred,
we assume with our American optimism that we will, as individuals,
not be held accountable for the actions of our leadership.

In the accusations lobbed against our country, most of us have
maintained a sense of individuality. In our minds, there’s a
distance between Dubya and our hometown that would prove to our
European critics we’re nice people who wouldn’t kick an
Iraqi detainee in the face.

But after reading the latest wave of anti-American commentary,
I’ve decided America has become the world’s ex-husband.
All the former wives are angry and they want two things: all of
America’s money and its death certificate, but not
necessarily in that order.

Our fiercest critics, the British and the French we’re
told, really have it in for us.

Freelance journalist Sasha Abramsky indicated our allies lost
that lovin’ feeling and are no longer willing to overlook
America’s indiscretions. In a commentary written for The
Chronicle for Higher Education Abramsky claimed the world would
rather see America humbled than continue to embrace the American
Dream. According to Abramsky, the world has vicious cravings to see
America knocked on its keester.

Abramsky reminded Chronicle readers that British novelist
Margaret Drabble, the one some have dubbed “the stiff upper
yap,” wrote about her anti-American sentiments for a UK
publication. Drabble throughout her piece titled “I loathe
America, and what is has done to the rest of the world”
insists her anti-Americanism is uncontrollable and there are two
versions of America – Bush’s and another.

Whether that’s Clinton’s misled America, George Bush
senior’s “Kinder, gentler America” or
Reagan’s optimistic but still building our military America,
Drabble doesn’t say.

Robin Shepard, adjunct fellow of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, is currently writing a book on the future of
Europe. In a commentary he wrote for the Washington Post this year,
Shepard said French writer Jean-Francois Revel has accused
Americans of having the unhealthy habit of electing morons for
presidents.

To those of us who assume world attitudes will change the moment
Bush returns to Texas and Democrat John Kerry and his Heinz Heiress
move into the White House, Shepard says, “Old Europe has a
long history of disdaining American presidents of either
party.”

And most of us already know how the French feel about
ketchup.

Shepard includes an excerpt of Revel’s book proving no one
will accuse the author of subtlety: “From the Missouri tie
salesman Truman to the Texas cretin George W. Bush, not to mention
the peanut farmer Carter and the B-movie actor Reagan, the White
House offers us a gallery of nincompoops.”

It seems, my fellow Americans, we’re not only loathed
we’re stupid.

Opinions of America, as collected by the Pew Research
Center’s Global Attitudes Project, are often quite critical.
The survey project, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright, is the first of its kind. Tens of thousands of
people from all regions of the world were interviewed and their
responses documented.

According to the report, the majority of British and French
respondents felt the United States did not take their
countries’ interests into account while making policy
decisions in the war on terror. However, most of the respondents
said they felt the U.S. war on terrorism was necessary.

The distinction between Americans and America is fading, so we
can no longer count on others understanding the difference. And
America, according to the majority of respondents, widens the gap
between the rich and poor.

Our tourism dollars are coveted. Our science and technologies
lauded. According to a majority of respondents in Europe, America
is spreading its culture like a venereal disease – the sex is
great, but the consequences suck.

Yet majorities within 35 of the 42 countries included in the
report have a positive overall view of America. Most people around
the world do not want a rival superpower and say rivalry is
dangerous. Even in Russia, two of every three respondents do not
want a bipolar world.

So what does all the hoopla mean? Are we hated? Is it Bush? Us?
Ketchup? I say this with a resounding note of frustration: I
don’t know.

It seems to me that within certain intellectual circles it has
become fashionable to detest America. Ask any ex-wife and
she’ll tell you: Harping on the ex feels great, especially if
you can disclose some of his most treasured secrets.

The very topic of anti-Americanism has rejuvenated political
scientists and journalists across the globe and now everyone with
credentials has a publication opportunity. We can have something
trendy to dissect and new rhetoric can be written. Everyone willing
to jump onto this bandwagon will get paid and, sometimes,
it’s important to remember that.

Bush’s foreign policy is causing divisions. But before we
get tangled in the weave of commentaries and opinions that
inevitable follow global controversy, I want to encourage Americans
to understand that anti-Americanism isn’t as anti as it
seems.  

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