The “Pathology” Of Anti-US Feeling

A favourite argument among apologists for American hegemony, manifest destiny, adventurism and militarism is that critics “know nothing about the United States” and so are not entitled to have any opinions. One reason for knowing nothing might be because, like Lars von Trier, we have never visited; in which case it ought logically to follow that if these American patriots have failed to visit Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, Angola, Iraq, Somalia, or any of the countless countries in whose affairs the US has destructively meddled, then they know nothing about these countries and ought not to have any opinions about them. Somehow we never hear about that equivalence. Or it might be that we have in fact visited the US but not spent enough time there, in which case the equivalent argument applies; and in any case, how long would be “enough”? When, as is increasingly the case, even native-born critics are called traitors who hate America, then the prospects for anyone else acquiring sufficient knowledge to be conceded the right to an opinion appears rather bleak.

Now, this new rhetorical trope whereby domestic critics of the Bush Administration, and subsequently the supporters of Barack Obama, were held to “hate America”, was vigorously opposed. Less attention seems to be devoted to the equivalent trope about foreigners, whereby critics are held to be “attacking” America and thereby not worth listening to. It seems that “attacking America” verbally is self-evidently a wrong, bad and evil thing to do, even on the part of those that America has attacked non-verbally. This major premise can only be accepted if you think that no one has a right to object to his treatment by America, in other words that America can do exactly what it likes to “lesser breeds without the law”.

The American refusal to sign up for the International Criminal Court has been grounded in the argument that prosecutions will be motivated by “anti-Americanism”. Translation: “When we commit crimes against humanity, people get angry with us. Gee, what kind of sickos are they?”

Whenever Americans are caught doing something really bad, the White House asks the media not to run the story “so as not to fuel anti-US feeling”. By the same token, the media should have refrained from the endless recycling of the 911 images, “so as not to fuel anti-Al-Qaeda feeling”. There seems to be a sense that “anti-US feeling” is something that just happens to the US for no particular reason, or because foreigners are innately wrong and sick and twisted.

This may be related to the culture of narcissism we meet on the individual level. Perhaps the most baleful legacy of the Sixties is the concept of “guilt-tripping”, whereby it is not your actions that are the problem, but the reactions of others, and guilt is not the alarm-bell of the conscience but something maliciously imposed from outside. Everyone committing evil acts has now learned to shift the focus of attention onto the attitudes of those who are discommoded by and complain about them. “Why can’t you try to understand me?” as all the creeps said in Dynasty at least once an episode, turning themselves into the victims of their own victims’ impudent refusal to accept what was done to them.

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 12:37 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, Medicalising The Opposition

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