Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anti-Americanism

I think that Norman Geras and followers use 'anti-Americanism' differently from latterday (and for that matter original) McCarthyites - but I'm not quite sure how. (NG as used it 82 times plus another 30 for anti-American.) Similar aspersions are cast, insinuated, and simpered by Nick Cohen (OK, not in that particular link) and Andrew Anthony. They usually fall between allegations of insufficient ardour for our transatlantic allies to charges of racism. So the following video of Michelle Bachmann the congresswoman from Minnesota won't make what our watchees mean any clearer. She clearly doesn't know what she means - in fact contra Steven Poole she is saying nothing. She's not trying to make contentful (is that a word?) statements, merely create an impression. Monet painted the way he did because he was short-sighed. Ms Bachmann's flings are vague because she is neither percipient nor deep-thinking.

Anyway, here's the video, via Marc Ambinder via John Cole. With any luck, this nonsense will kill 'anti-American' as a credible smear. I wouldn't bet on it.



I know we're not doing Nick, but when we did he was lauding HBO. Readers without cable may not have seen the HBO broadcast of the Presidential debate. We don't have time for that, so here's some, er, talking heads. Why aren't they fawning over how much better HBO is than British tv?


Was There Too Much Sex And Profanity In The HBO Presidential Debate?

And from the links at the end of that, bad news for those of us who believe bush = hitler. I've got one of those calendar-things.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Manic said...

I really think we should have more Aaronovitch content or else change the name of the blog - or a new slogan - 'Aaronovitchwatch, it doesn't? Do you?

10/18/2008 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think Aaro was off this week.

Paging Decent Racism post - Nick's at it now, though he is a victim of terrible timing, coming out against 'mass immigration' at the same time as the people's he criticising, the labour govt, are doing the exact same thing. He's also talking about 'the government's Balkanisation of Britain' - I can't quite work out what he means, Gordon Brown warned against this a year ago ffs. And didn't Decents support the Balkanization of, er, the Balkans? Includes, once again this unproveable line:

newspapers argued that it was reasonable for mass murderers to bomb the London tube because they disagreed with Tony Blair's foreign policy

Normally with Decents there's at least a pretence at having evidence - but there's never been any for this repeated claim, has there, and Nick has elsewhere claimed that this was 'all over the TV on the same day as the attacks', which it demonstrably wasn't. Oh and he seems to think that Scottish Nationalism has completely died in the last 6 weeks. I didn't realise quite how much the SNP's popularity in mid-2008 pissed off labour loyalists/Decents...

oh and did nick even follow the mayoral election in london? He probably should have done, given his position as a columnist for the Standard, but this is still utter bollocks:

in the London mayoral election, Ken Livingstone won the support of all the ethnic minorities except, for obvious reasons, the Jews. He still lost, because white working-class voters came out against a Labour candidate who seemed to have no interest in their lives.

That 'for obvious reasons' is pretty horrible really, and in any case, it's universally agreed that boris won because he managed to mobilize the dormant, middle-class tories in outer suburbs.

10/19/2008 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Geras tends to confuse being anti-Norman Geras with anti-americanism. Meanwhile he admires and interviews people like Michelle Malkin who objectively have done more harm to the US than the most rabid stereotypical America hating leftie has ever done.

10/19/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

He was off and didn't write a Tuesday, but point taken.

10/19/2008 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Point taken, but we rely on readers to be our 'eyes and ears' when Aaro deserts his post. Presumably he writes elsewhere. I think the Times pays well, but they do try to get value for money. In the ST, Rod Liddle gets to do football and political commentary, and AA Gill writes restaurant reviews, the tv column, and gives this thoughts on the occasional book.

Aaro is just not very prolific. Anyway, we're still also "i'Wod'". Aaro just puts near the front of the alphabet.

OC - totally agree about Nick. I sort of hoped that he was going to bang on about Cameron sweeping to victory with his Etonian train. Now I hope that Gordon Brown pulls off the bank rescue thing for the obvious reasons and because it would make at least one of Nick's book deals look very silly indeed.

And if David Aaronovitch reads this site - maybe now that the surge has worked there's a book in going to Iraq and looking for those WMD. (This is a semi-serious suggestion; Dave's gently humourous travel writing taken to Iraq would restore a lot of his credibility.)

10/19/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"it's universally agreed that boris won because he managed to mobilize the dormant, middle-class tories in outer suburbs."

It's true to say this, but it's also true that Johnson did better than average among WWC voters. He won South Bermondsey ward, for example. And places like Bromley and Bexley also have large WWC populations, who switched in quite large numbers from Johnson to Livingstone.

The alternative way of looking at this result is to note (as Livingstone did in the recent interview linked on AW) that in fielding Johnson the Tories swept up a lot of the racist vote who were less keen on Steve Norris. It's probably true to say that Livingstone didn't have a specific strategy for winning WWC votes and this may have cost him the election, but then we're back into 'very real concerns' territory.

10/19/2008 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Sorry, second para should read "...from Livingstone to Johnson".

10/19/2008 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

On Aaro - isn't he doing a triathlon at the moment or some such, as well?

Anti-Americanism is yet another way for Decents, despite their ostensible belief in the sanctity of free speech etc, to avoid answering difficult questions by limiting the parameters of debate. As usual they arbitrarily, either through wilful misreading or telepathy, decide that something = racism and therefore renders their opponent's opinion null and void. Note Sarah Palin calling small rural towns 'more pro-America' than the cities, too. Essentially this is the same tactic that the Decents use; imply that your opponents hate America/Israel/wherever, and force them onto the back foot by 'proving their commitment' etc as opposed to actually tacking any difficult questions.

Belief in the 'Anti-Americanism' of anti-war protesters seems to be one of the things that unites people who signed the Euston Manifesto, and yet that document is equally hard to pin down in its definition of what constitutes the syndrome:

We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

It's just waffle isn't it? Like most Decent racism-detection, it's entirely in the eye of the beholder and is usually fairly difficult to quantify, usually involving interminable David T / Norm Geras-penned 'proof' which is about as far from convincing as you can get.

On Boris - granted he did better than Ken among the WWC, but it's not the main reason for his win. It's a useful way for Decents to avoid the actual reason Ken lost - cos at the time, the Labour brand was toxic. It isn't any more, and the gap between the Tories and Labour will probably continue to close. I imagine Nick will retitle the book.

Oh and speaking of Nick - he is getting destroyed in the private eye letters page on a fortnightly basis now. Are they going to start fact-checking his pieces?

10/20/2008 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(This is a semi-serious suggestion; Dave's gently humourous travel writing taken to Iraq would restore a lot of his credibility.)

Not for me - last time he went, he just wanted to kick lumps out of Naomi Klein.

[redpesto]

10/20/2008 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Red Pesto - ooh, I'd forgotten all about that. Nice that tehgraun is good enough to print corrections at the top of articles.

OC - the triathlon was in August. The Times did follow three (non-journalists) maiden efforts. DA's interest inexplicably disappeared.

OC and Simon - I thought Ken lost because Harry's Place turned on him. Could I have got the wrong impression?

10/20/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I thought Ken lost because Harry's Place turned on him.

Ah yeah, that was right. the whole thing hinged on how vigorously David Toube went out campaigning for Labour, in seats which Ken nonetheless won convincingly, didn't it?

10/20/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"On Boris - granted he did better than Ken among the WWC, but it's not the main reason for his win. It's a useful way for Decents to avoid the actual reason Ken lost - cos at the time, the Labour brand was toxic. It isn't any more, and the gap between the Tories and Labour will probably continue to close."

Again, this is only partly true. It's certainly a common theme of Livingstone and his supporters that he 'ran ahead of the Labour vote', and it's true, but it's also true that the Tory campaign was able to mobilise a lot of personal anti-Livingstone sentiment - particularly in the perception that he was a 'Zone 1 mayor', which played well in the outer boroughs. And yes, I'm afraid Livingstone did do notably poorly in the Jewish parts of north London, although whether that vote was big enough to swing the result either way is moot.

If the election had been held in the Brown Bounce period then Livingstone would probably have won. With any Tory lead of around 5 points or more, though, I suspect the figures would be increasingly inelastic and you would see a result roughly similar to what happened regardless of the actual figures.

10/20/2008 03:43:00 PM  

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