Anti-Americanism acquires virtue
Date: Saturday, January 07 2006
Some years ago our old friend Frederich Nietzsche announced the death of God, now we must entertain a similar iconoclasm that anti-Americanism has acquired virtue in all its aspects. Where it was once the indulgence of those outside the borders of America it now rages within the borders of the country and is becoming more than ever a global phenomena.
Whether or not you believe God is dead is of course a matter of personal conviction, also known as freedom of religion. George W Bush contradicts Nietzsche as he claims that God put him in the presidency and guides his every decision. We don't know, maybe Nietzsche lied to us, but then too GW Bush has been known to lie on occasion. It would be beneficial if we could arrange a meeting between these two men, say in the form of a séance where the spirit of Nietzsche could be beckoned from the other side and we could be entertained with a televised debate. Reality television would take on new meaning.
In his imperial presidency GWBush certainly takes on some Godly powers as he becomes all-knowing and all-powerful. Most recently he has just signed into law a bill banning torture. But before the ink was dry he also signed a “signing statement” which simply put allows him the right to ignore the law at his discretion.
As any linguist worth his salt will tell you language is in constant evolution- or maybe we should say constant intelligent redesign. Words are added, dropped, go out of fashion and have their meanings corrupted- or quite simply their meaning is no longer applicable. As we develop new concepts, products and processes new terminology is needed to identify them. Among those that come immediately to mind are "soft torture' and "extraordinary rendition”. In these post-modern times we have propinquity for squalid euphemisms.
Anti-Americanism is no longer applicable to Canadians as we are increasingly de facto Americans with the consequent entitlement to speak to American issues. We are merely voicing the same concerns expressed by a lot of other Americans; the difference being they are constitutionally enfranchised as part of the empire, we just haven't gotten around to applying for citizenship yet- though our peerless political elites keep knocking at the door.
One reason anti- Americanism has transformed is that a lot of the writers I read - true blue American ones- are saying that the Bush administration is anti-American-another revolution is going on, betraying all the things America once stood for. The US constitution is being demeaned, the law according to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a joke, John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN is a one man wrecking crew, and the US is returning to rule by the divine right of self-proclaimed kings. Some might like to dismiss these writers as left wing flakes, but too much of what they say quite simply makes sense and remind us of what was and what should be.
So it might be said that anti-Americanism is no longer an international import, but a flourishing home grown industry, a crisis within the country- and at the very heart of the country.
As one US politician recently commented "It is hard to be a moderate Republican these days."
The US is no longer a unitary state as it is now composed of the red states that voted for Bush and the blue states that voted Democrat. Canadians have more in common with Americans from the blue states. So it would be more accurate to accuse us of being anti-red state than being anti-American.
Interestingly, the current US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins is from a red state. In a recent speech to the Canadian Club he made the rather inane claim that 9/11 has changed America forever(as if it was the first country to ever suffer a terrorist attack). The obvious retort to this claim is that America will be changed only if it lets itself be changed and there is the very legitimate, though not so popular contention, that too many of the changes are simply fabrications of a nefarious political agenda.
Nor is it completely accurate to say we are anti-Bush, as GW is simply the bag man for much more sinister ideologues known as neo-conservatives, and here lies the crux of the problem as it is their agenda that is the driving force behind the dark anti-American revolution. The revolution is unfortunately a highly exportable item. Though it is not covered by NAFTA it could end up in this flagging country.
The not so mysterious reason Stephen Harper, and his eminent CPC party is not doing better at the polls is that there is every suspicion that they are neo-cons in waiting, ready to import the dark revolution-the Washington Tribute Tax(WTT) will go through the roof.
As we North Americans tend to be a bit parochial, British playwright Harold Pinter in his Noble Lecture gives further testimony on why anti-Americanism acquires virtue:
The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.
Pinter is kind enough to point us in the right direction when he mentions, “critical dissent,” and its being “impotent” and “irrelevant”. It must become potent and relevant especially within US borders where it must coalesce into political action, and we should be supportive by not being silently complicit.
In the movie, Bonfire of The Vanities, based on the Tom Wolfe novel, the judge, played by Morgan Freeman defines the law, all law, as coming down to one word "decency!” Where decency is lacking anti-Americanism acquires virtue.