Friday, August 22, 2008

Anti-anti-anti-anti-american

There is a little fuss brewing over at Lefty Conspiracy about the America in the World blog. Frankly the sound of repeated comfort-zone positions is pretty deafening, with neither side addressing the arguments of the other much.

So the conspiring lefties complain with some justification about being lumped in with the Taleban, when all they are doing is criticising a government. America in the World complains also with some justification that the USA is misunderstood, that it is good for the world, in a world where so many forces and powers are pretty heinous and do not attract the same condemnation.

Of course everybody knows that the USA, even when under the Democrats is a terribly conservative country, and this does seem to be a large part of what is behind why AitW's Conservative founder thinks it is so great, and the lefties think it is so awful. This seems to me to be a very narrow perspective. Compared to most of the rest of the world, there is little difference between the values of the USA, EU, and the rest of the democratic world. When, for example, one country is left holding out against action on global warming, that country will be Russia.

But actually what is so great about the USA is not its conservatism but its liberalism, if only they knew what the word meant. The USA is still a beacon of freedom and democracy. It's prosperity benefits the rest of the world through trade. Its contributions to science are enormous. And even its military and intelligence services have played some positive roles alongside their various crimes.

It is too easy to forget all this in the face of a few disagreements over policy. Among political people, political disagreements tend to loom large. So it is a shame that this vital cause of opposing anti-Americanism has been conducted in such a partisan way. It is foolish to big up the USA, as AitW does, with snide remarks about the EU. The USA and EU are on the same side, and will have to stand together in the future.

It is utterly bonkers, as AitW does, to offend those who most need to be reached by this message - those with the greatest political disagreements with American people and governments - by lumping them with racists.

Yet the anti-anti-anti-Americans on Liberal Conspiracy should not get a free ride. It is too easy to focus on the comfortable and justifiable: our right to disagree with a government. Beneath the cheap attack on the left and liberals, that few Conservatives could resist, AitW is largely correct about the USA and its other detractors. And we should say so.

4 comments:

Tristan said...

My big problem with anti-Americanism is it is not usually confined to criticising the government, it degenerates into criticising America and Americans as a whole.
Just like some idiots turn criticising the Israeli government into antisemitism.

The most laughable case was when I attacked that sort of anti-Americanism and got the reply 'but they voted for George Bush' as if that makes all Americans like Bush. Of course, the British electorate elected Blair enough times, but that doesn't count ;)

Left Lib said...

"Anti-Americanism" is a term that conflates legitimate criticism of US politics with some form of bigotry. It is a way of guilt-tripping and obstracting debate.
The US government does not believe in freedom anymore. Their clampdown on civil liberties at home is far worse than the fights we have in the UK to preserve ours. In addition, the US government now supports torture for untried suspects of terrorism.
The USA is a foreign country and an increasingly illiberal one.
In the overall scheme of things they ARE liberal compared to most of the world, and there are good reasons for them to be our allies. But that is not to say we should overlook or be naive about what is happening there.

Left Lib said...

Sorry that should read "The US believes LESS in freedom today"

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