Saturday, January 13, 2007

Anti-American Is We

We is Anti-American. Some people see anti-Americanism everywhere (because all words are propaganda: you are with us or against us: if you did not support the Iraq war, you were for the other side QED).
Here at AaroWatch we think Bush is an idiot, a psychotic, a spoiled kid who failed to grow up and who wrecked what little brain he had with alcohol and drugs, a man who defaulted on his national service, and a klutz who is unfit to flip burgers.
Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that at last someone has come along to defend us and say with Nick Cohen "Why it is right to be anti-American"*.

The accusation is as predictable as late trains. You are arguing in a pub, or addressing a smaller audience on the wee-small-hours show on Radio 5. The chat may be about economics or multinationals or the entertainment industry or foreign policy or the corruption of politics - the subject is increasingly and revealingly irrelevant. Just when you are flattering yourself that you have got to the very nub of the issue, your opponent breaks in with a voice somewhere between a sneer and bray and announces that "your problem is that you're anti-American". To right-thinking - that is, left-leaning - people, the insult should be absurd. To be anti-American rather than, say, anti-corporate, is to make a reactionary substitution of nationality for politics. Like anti-Semitism, it is "the socialism of fools".
Deployers of the jeer assert racism and more: they are certain that anti-Americanism is the modern equivalent of collaborating with Hitler. I've been trying to keep count of the number of intellectuals who have responded to 11 September by disinterring George Orwell's worst piece of Second World War writing. So far, the Observer and Sunday Times, America's Voice and two other conservative websites have used his condemnation of conscientious objectors, in an admittedly tense 1941, as a text for our times. "In so far as it hampers the British war effort," Orwell said, "British pacifism is on the side of the Nazis and German pacifism, if it exists, is on the side of Britain and the USSR. Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively the pacifist is pro-Nazi."
Orwell, of all people, ought to have known the sliminess of the Stalinist adverb "objectively" - "objectively the Kulaks are pro-fascist" - even if he'd forgotten that conshies filled the peacetime jobs of soldiers. Since 11 September, his emulators have held that "objectively the anti-American is pro-Bin Laden". Barbara Amiel, the Daily Telegraph commentator (and wife of the Telegraph Group proprietor, Conrad Black), quoted a speech Harold Pinter made on 10 September in which the playwright said: "I believe that this brutal and malignant world machine [America] must be recognised for what it is and resisted." To which Amiel replied: "For years Pinter's words, in speeches such as these, have been an incitement to violence. No amount of bons mots can quite distance him morally from what took place the next day." Noam Chomsky has, inevitably, received the same treatment.

At last our position is stated with admirable clarity - and not a little passion. If only the drafters of the Euston Manifesto had consulted with this fellow before they wrote

6) Opposing anti-Americanism.
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking.

No, wait.
We tip our revolutionary caps of the people to Jamie for the link.
*Link text altered because I'd like to make it easy to find this particularly splendid essay for anyone who wants to Google 'Nick Cohen'.


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