“Anti-Americanism” Revisited

Posted on Monday, February 21 at 10:01 by robertjb

 

There are those who casually dismiss any criticism of US as being “anti-American” as if to suggest it is some sort of blasphemy. But those who use the term betray a flippancy that tells much of themselves as it might just indicate an intellectual laziness, being uninformed or a well entrenched denialism .  The accusation of anti-Americanism is too often made by those who mindless indulge in knee-jerk pro-Americanism.
 
We can no longer carelessly bandy the term about as now more than ever we Canadians are in too many ways adoptive Americans. America is still the world’s leading economy and a global cultural force. So goes the fortunes of that country so go our own and those of many other countries. The market collapse of 2008 showed in dramatic terms how America’s troubled economy takes others down with it. It also showed just how integrated Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” has become.
 
As adoptive Americans we can hardly be indifferent to what happens there. Nor can we ignore the hard fact that our hapless federal government is very much in sympathy with America’s despotic agenda, and like many previous federal governments is susceptible to knee-jerk pro-Americanism. At a time when we would be wise to keep our distance from the floundering empire we perversely embrace it even more.
 
American values at one time thought sacrosanct are no longer so.  American exceptionalism has been grounded as the Empire is showing itself to be as vulnerable as all previous empires to the inevitable cycles of history.
 
In my college days there was a poster entitled “It is un-American to be Canadian.” The implication being that to assert being Canadian and pursue distinct policies and identity were automatically considered anti-American. Now, too many Americans are themselves deemed “Anti-American” as they oppose the gutting of their Constitution, endless warfare and fiscal irresponsibility.
 
In a recent Tomdispatch, founder and editor Tom Engelhardt states:
 
Neither$553 billion nor 80.1 billion can buy Washington a brain. Right now, by all evidence, our leaders are still convinced that it’s there job to run the world and fight distant wars until hell freezes over. They can’t bear to think a new thought, or take a chance, or experiment on anything, or look at our planet in a new way. At the moment, the evidence indicates that they have the brainpower of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz without that character’s urge for self-improvement, and its taking us down
 
Tom Engelhardt, Anti-American or true patriot?
 
Those who flippantly dismiss any criticism of the US as simply being anti-American reveal themselves as leading lights of denialism, and denialism has never been an effective way of dealing with any crisis. Like the accusation “conspiracy theorist,” – it is a dismissive blocking term that merely begs the question. Both of these terms are manifestations of denialism where we avoid hard truths like failing economies, the scourge of hyper-militarism, the looming advent of the end of oil, global warming and the irrefutable evidence that 9/11 was an inside job.
 
We live in an Orwellian world where values are turned inside out. As Orwell so astutely observed, in times of tyranny it is considered treason to speak the truth. Indeed, we live in a time where a veritable chorus of dissident writers, intellectuals and activists reveal the truth, yet they are accused of a lack of patriotism, threatened with assassination, jailed and tortured, discredited and of course accused of being anti –American and conspiracy theorists.
 
As Orwell would no doubt agree these two terms are tools-and very superficial tools- of propagandists and the glib responses of the apathetic and ill-informed.
 
The people of Egypt have shown that a revolution can to some degree be defined as they overthrew a despotic government in a relatively peaceful way with a minimum of violence and loss of life. Now remains the daunting challenge of actualizing a real democracy while resisting the meddlesome machinations of foreign powers-namely the US, as control of the Middle East and its essential petroleum reserves is the centre piece of its dubious foreign policy. A truly democratic Egypt, and any other ME country that chooses to follow suit would constitute a direct threat to US hegemony in the region.
 
Closer to home there is also talk of revolution and here again it can be defined by collective agreement-an incremental revolution. It could take the form of the arrival of a new generation of progressive realist political leaders or it could come in the form of social unrest and war. But the likelihood of an incremental revolution is unlikely as the present status quo has shown that it is not disposed to reform as it ruthlessly resists change and the present slate of politicians have been so effectively co-opted.
 
Where the office of US president is touted as the most powerful in the world recent presidents are merely captives to this well entrenched status quo. US President Ronald Reagan believed that the world is facing Armageddon; but he didn’t get around to  addressing the distinct possibility that it could be self-inflicted and not at the hand of some extinct God.
 
Accusations of being anti-American or a conspiracy theorist are really no more than simple-minded and futile attempts to deflect pressing issues. They are aspects of societal denialism that left to persist will render any reform that much more traumatic and debilitating.
 
There is the well worn cliché that “the truth will set you free” until such time as we are willing to entertain some harsh truths and genuine progressivism our denialism is the enemy within and our moral, fiscal and democratic deficits swagger out of control.

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