Friday, July 25, 2008

You Could Almost Write their Script Now

David Aaronovitch notes that the Europe’s anti-Americans resort to the same old things: the feeble recitation of comparing their high culture to others’ low culture, all the while pretending they’re assaulted by the tabloid papers and trashy TV that they exported to America.

But even if he had been a half-Chinese ballet-loving Francophone, he would have been hated by some who should have loved him, for there isn't an American president since Eisenhower who hasn't ended up, at some point or other, being depicted by the world's cartoonists as a cowboy astride a phallic missile. It happened to Bill Clinton when he bombed Iraq; it will happen to Mr Obama when his reinforced forces in Afghanistan or Pakistan mistake a meeting of tribal elders for an unwise gathering of Taleban and al-Qaeda. Then the new president (or, if McCain, the old president) will be the target of that mandarin Anglo-French conceit that our superior colonialism somehow gives us the standing to critique the Yank's naive and inferior imperialism.

Often those who express their tiresome anti-Americanism will suggest, as do some of the more disingenuous anti-Zionists with regard to anti-Semitism - that they, of course, are not anti-American, and that no one really is. But, coming as I do from an Anti-American tradition that wasn't afraid to proclaim itself, I think I know where the corpses are interred. For example, the current production of Bernstein's Candide at the English National Opera is a classic of elite anti-Americanism, in which we are invited to laugh at the philistine invocation of “Democracy, the American Way and McDonald's”. The laughter that accompanied this feeble satire showed our proper understanding that we, the audience, had a proper concept of democracy, and would never soil ourselves with an Egg McMuffin.

The true irony went way above the sniggerers' heads, which was that Leonard Bernstein was the American cultural import that we were, at that very moment, enjoying.
His title?
Eventually, we will all hate Obama too
Which is an exaggeration, but not that far from the mark. Unlike European political dynamics, it really isn’t necessary to join a cult of attendant party social organizations, only buy the party newspapers line, etc. In America is isn’t necessary to detest your political opponents as it would be among the “brain trusts” of the UMP and PS in France. Though those on the far-left do it, it's still mocked.

The sad thing about the title, is that except the reasons the usual European pedants will have to hate won’t be rational. They will be the “usual” ones. The complex of myths and prejudices that they’ve been flogging for ages. It’s a slightly more adult looking form of the “we invented that first” game, but only slightly so.