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Understanding Anti-Americanism: Its Origins and Impact at Home and Abroad Paperback – May 25, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The essays collected here, by political scientists, foreign policy experts and other scholars, cast a skeptical eye on previous accounts of their subject, arguing that true anti-Americanism is an extreme hostility born of, in editor Hollander's words, "a deep-seated, emotional predisposition" to loathe the U.S. rather than one based on rational critique. With varying levels of persuasiveness, each essay isolates a different strand of anti-Americanism in its cultural context of origin. Anthony Daniels paints France as an anxious, judgmental, contradictory former colonial power, threatened by invasive "Anglo-Saxon" (read "American") culture and the English language. Michael Freund analyzes Germany's relation to the U.S. by making detailed reference to 19th- and 20th-century German philosophical thinkers. Patrick Clawson and Barry Rubin argue that Middle Eastern anti-Americanism is spawned more by the scapegoating tendencies of radical Arab nationalism than by U.S. foreign policy. David Brooks, Mark Falcoff and Walter D. Connor suggest a pattern of frustration, failure, bitterness, blame and envy in their essays on Nicaraguan, Cuban and Russian anti-Americanism. A final section on anti-Americanism at home scrutinizes the history of the U.S. Communist Party, Canadian and American feminists' purported moral relativism and anti-Americanism in U.S. popular culture. Because the collection emphasizes anti-Americanism as a vitriolic intellectual construction, some readers may find its tone overly defensive, particularly in relation to American foreign policy. Nevertheless, the sense of cultural contradictions and differing philosophical legacies that the collection conveys is enriching and allows anti-Americanism to be viewed less as a bundle of generalizations and more in terms of the cultural particularity of each country and region.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A fascinating collection of essays on a complex but important topic by some of America's foremost scholars and thinkers. (Robert Kagan)
Paul Hollander leads a distinguished team of scholars in an examination, both vigorous and detached.... A serious, comprehensive book relevant for today. (Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution)
Understanding Anti-Americanism fills a vital niche [and] surpasses what one expects from a multi-author study, for Hollander brought together an all-star cast of writers who jointly mull over and draw insightful conclusions. (Daniel Pipes, director, Middle East Forum; author of Militant Islam Comes to America)
Mr. Hollander and his contributors make some excellent diagnoses. (Jay Nordlinger New York Sun)
The collection...is enriching... (Publishers Weekly)
What the 18 assembled authors conclude is both fascinating and depressing…. Hollander has performed a great service with this volume... (National Review)
Valuable collection... (Arch Puddington COMMENTARY)
Essential for anyone in American studies, political sociology or international relations. (Yves Laberge Political Studies Review)
A masterful job.... Each entry is limpid, thoughtful, and often incisive. (Bryan-Paul Frost Society)
Top customer reviews
James Ceasar then discusses the philosophical origins of anti-Americanism in Europe. We see the image of the United States as MacDonald's, Disneyland, and Microsoft. But that's unfair, of course. I rarely eat at MacDonald's: much better hamburgers are available elsewhere. I dislike Disneyland, but I do like some of our fine National Parks, including Yellowstone. And I do use Microsoft products, even though I admit that they have some serious inherent flaws. There is no need to blame America for one's dislike of some of its less attractive products of course. The rest of the world is at least as responsible.
Anthony Daniels talks about French anti-Americanism. He explains that French is no longer the language of all civilized men. Instead, it is the sixth most common European language, with fewer native speakers than English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and German.
Michael Mosbacher and Digby Anderson write about British anti-Americanism. That includes a discussion of Harold Pinter, who regards America as waging war against the rest of the world. And we see combined effects of radicalized Islamists and a left-wing anti-American elite, as well as a few folks on the far right. Michael Freund's chapter is on Germany, and he makes an interesting between opposition to modernity in National Socialist times, and anti-American anti-modernist tendencies today.
Patrick Clawson and Barry Rubin tell us about anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Some say that much of this is a reaction to American support of Israel. But that's an oversimplification: Arab anti-Americanism was strong even in "the 1950s and 1960s, well before the United States developed a special relationship with Israel." It appears that radical Islamists hate America at least as much for its "religious liberty, freedom of the press, and equality before the law" as it does for our support of human rights in Israel. In addition, they mention that while the Arab "street" is rather anti-American, that is not at all the case for the Iranian "street."
Michael Radu mentions that 10% of those who live in the United States are Latin Americans. Nevertheless, quite a few people find a way, generally fraudulent, to blame America for the poverty of many Latin Americans. In addition, most Latin Americans incorrectly feel that the United States can manipulate and control Latin America at will. Finally, the Catholic Church has played a role in all this, with Jesuits often disseminating anti-U.S. "liberation theology" material.
David Brooks has a chapter on Nicaragua. I found it interesting to see how academics who visited Nicaragua in 1987 got a very unbalanced view about the amount of support for the Sandinistas. Those who actually met a representative set of Nicaraguans came away with an extremely different point of view.
Marc Falcoff writes about Cuba. One day, the United States and Cuba will indeed have good relations. Falcoff asks if there will then be a problem caused by the very distorted view of the United States produced by the Cuban media and educational system. Walter D. Connor's chapter is about Russia, which he shows to be much more of a European nation (as opposed to an Asian nation) than I would have thought.
Roger Kimball has an excellent chapter on domestic anti-Americanism. He reminds us that just as English pacifism "inculcated an attitude that aided England's enemies," anti- Americanism "is objectively pro-terrorist." We see that if one understands why vicious people are vicious, that provides no immunity from the effects of that viciousness. And we see that anti-Americanism is almost the exact opposite of dissent. Kimball feels that American resoluteness will reduce anti-Americanism. If that is so, perhaps that means that there is something to anti-Bush feelings as part of anti-Americanism. As one who voted against Bush, I feel it is unfair to equate Bush with all of America. But I also feel that Bush has not been a particularly resolute President.
Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes discuss the Communist Left and its rejection of American society. Next is Cathy Young's chapter on feminist hostility to American society. One feminist boasted that only 8% of the world's population are white men, calling it "a very encouraging fact." She may be overlooking the fact that quite a few Women are very happily married to white men! Still, what are legitimate feminist issues? Crime, the economy, abortion, child care, the balancing of work and motherhood, and schools for children ... these ought to be part of it. How about female genital mutilation? Or other forms of severe oppression of women that we often see in Islamic tyrannies? If one disregards all these issues in an attempt to oppose America, well, one is not a feminist, as far as I am concerned. And I won't be the only one to feel that way!
Adam Garfinkle discusses domestic peace movements. While there is always legitimate domestic opposition to every American use of force, there is also some anti-American opposition, and many Americans greet this with well-deserved skepticism.
Sandra Stotsky has a fine article about the teaching of a totally bogus moral equivalence between America's behavior with that of National Socialist Germany. And the book concludes with an article by Bruce Thornton on anti-Americanism and popular culture. War is indeed gruesome, and we need to be aware of the principles for which we fight. As Thornton says, "absent that context, the miseries of war become an emotional media spectacle rather than useful information." And that can make supposedly objective media coverage into "stealth editorials" that can become an outright assault on American interests as well as on human rights.
I recommend this book.
Another Smith grad, almost in tears, admitted to me that after six years of private school and four years at one of our most prestigious women's colleges she knew absolutely nothing about history. Oh, she knew plenty about women's issues and imperialism and gender theory and racism but when I gave her a book on the general history of this century she was shocked over, for example, Woodrow Wilson's attempts to create a permanent peace and a League of Nations. You see, she'd been taught that the whole history of history, the "white male patriarchy," was one of non-stop oppression and exploitation. She was also amazed that Teddy Roosevelt worked in partnership with his wife and didn't keep her barefoot and in the kitchen. Take all the ideas she'd been handed in her life and replace most of the key white male terms with "Jew" and she was as well indoctrinated for hate and genocide as any Hitler Youth ever had been. Even she was finally disgusted with talk among her classmates--talk most emphatically not discouraged by the school--of certain classes not being worth taking because they were all about "dead white males."
I'm not a Conservative, in fact my sympathies are with old-fashioned Progressives, Populists and Liberals, but over the years, hearing one hateful, irrational, and horrifying thing after another emerge from the mouths of self proclaimed Leftists, and revolutionaries, hearing "ecology" advocates talk excitedly of the need to eliminate the human race so the planet can survive, and listening to feminists projecting their rage about family and personal troubles on half the planet, I have learned to utterly despise the American Left. What's deeply troubling is most of these people I've encountered come from comfortable upper-middle class backgrounds, some finance their political exploits with trust fund money, most, if not all, have no direct experience with want or oppression, at least of the kind they protest about. They travel to Palestine or Central America for a week or two-in ironic parodies of the old Grand Tour---and return as world-class experts on the downtrodden. They spend time only with sympathizers, seldom engage in any self-criticism, and have well-constructed rationalizations to deflect any external criticism: a famous feminist one being "logic is a male construct." Their teachers, often as not, are venom-filled America-haters from the Viet Nam era. It's just appalling.
Additional proof that this indignation, this moral outrage, this alleged caring for people, is thoroughly suspect is the complete lack of concern shown in communities like this whenever the foreign Anti-American side engages in their own atrocities or injustices. Leftists get strangely quiet or become bizarre apologists when confronted with the slaughter of children at Beslan or the car bombing of kids in Baghdad. The argument is always that this is somehow a valid response to things we do, never that no one should do these things under any circumstances. Two students admitted to me that even they were shocked by the lack of outrage over what happened to 170 kids at Beslan. Leftists were equally close-mouthed years ago when confronted by the numerous atrocities of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. You see, principle is not the issue here, it's all about hate and demonization, and it's often from the same people who claim to be on the side of peace and love. Their twisted logic is this: when we screw up it's because we're evil, when the opposition screws up it's also because we're evil.
I'm not thrilled that books like this give ammunition for opposing extremists that I don't care for either, but Hollander's primary points, and the points of his associates, are valid--very valid. From what I've seen close up and from what I've heard from average, decent people from the so-called Red States, I'd argue that the American Left, in the course of its now nearly forty-year-old temper tantrum, its vicious and almost indiscriminate lashing out at anything and everything about American culture, it's perpetual disabling of the Democratic Party, its refusal to compromise or see another's point of view, has succeeded in driving most sensible Americans right into the hands of Republicans and Conservatives. They are the best thing that's ever happened to the Right, a loud and obnoxious group of people forever alienating average and often decent Americans, mainstream Christians, moderates, and patriotic people who believe in American traditions and ideals, with their endless, vicious, hate-drenched accusations. If I were an unscrupulous Right Winger, I'd secretly finance the American Left and I'd fund Ralph Nader--the election spoiler, and the guy who, in the Sixties, helped the oil industry by not only single-handedly postponing the future of the small fuel-efficient car but, by inference, steering people to bigger "safe at any speed" gas guzzlers. He's also anti-nuclear, isn't he? Has anybody ever asked him why it is that almost everything he does eventually helps the Republicans or the oil interests?
As far as all that foreign hate goes, well I've listened to some reasonable complaints and a mountain of absurd complaints from foreigners. Perceptions of this country overseas, especially among the average folks, are often absolutely ridiculous and I'm not about to blame McDonalds or the movies. Please tell me, somebody, anybody, how a bunch of people living in various spots thousands of miles from the US have such thorough knowledge of my country's history, aspirations, ideals, motivations, foreign policy--especially when many AMERICANS--people who live here, read the papers, see what's going on--have plenty of trouble with all that? Is it a highly informed and worldly Islamic militant who calls us the Great Satan or someone who sees us through a glass very darkly, if at all? And if they aren't really seeing us, just what are they seeing, and, more importantly, what are they projecting on us? How is it so many here can readily demonize our own country's "rednecks" and "yahoos," and our own superstitious medievalists, and not ever think that maybe, just maybe, there are plenty more just like them filling up various other nations of the world, running them in fact, maybe even wanting nuclear weapons? Why are our Fundamentalists bad and other people's Fundamentalists worthy of respect?
No I'm sorry. Mistakes have been made and will continue to be made. Every country and every culture does stupid selfish things, exploits its underdogs, molests its neighbors--takes advantage of opportunities (and this country probably agonizes over this stuff more than most). This idea that there was a pristine idyllic world before the West, and especially the US, turned up and wrecked it all is the single greatest and most dangerous fallacy of modern times. It threatens to trample on those aspects of Western Civilization that offer real hope for decency and justice in the world. We've seen the options: totalitarianism, theocracy, tribalism, and so forth and none offers the maximum amount of freedom and justice to everyone with the least amount of sacrifice of culture and beliefs. What's conservative Islam's answer to world peace? Simple. Everyone converts to Islam and the Koran governs everything. Honestly, that's their worldview. Our answer? A system that actively protects people's right to their own beliefs. What they lose is their right to engage in a system of justice that should be abhorent to the most die-hard cultural relativist. Should. Cultural relativism has made a hash out of this type of thinking by failing to accept that one system can in fact better than another, if--and this is absolutely key--WE'RE TO TAKE THE FATE OF THE WHOLE OF HUMANITY INTO CONSIDERATION. No, we're being scapegoated big time and, in many ways and given the records of every other culture, we deserve it least of all.