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Americanism: Style and Dissent

One of my occasional forays in the United States has washed me up on the shores of historic Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod. Looking back over the Atlantic to the West Coast of Ireland has reminded me of how the weather can be just as bad over here as it is at home.

Anti-Americanism remains as popular at home as it is misunderstood here. What was originally considered a prejudice has now transformed into an orthodoxy, where the demonisation of the United States, its people, culture and contributions has acquired the power of an aesthetic reaction. The reaction is not an ideology, although the attacks are structured as such within various contexts, especially as formed by the Left or the Green movement who merge the USA with a wider system of empire, capitalism or oppression. Ideologies tend to wither if they drift too far from reality. Anti-Americanism has acquired the power of an aesthetic, a style derived from its audiences and reproduced from T-shirts of Che Guevara to a new orthodoxy amongst the educated elites. Like left-wing satire of the nineteen-eighties, it has ceased to be funny and its proponents look down on those who disagree with them.

Politics and style are a dangerous combination. Supporting Bush is not the same as accepting America on its terms, good and bad, but orthodox behaviour encourages polarisation in argument. When confronted with an anti-American style that is no longer based upon argument and is winning the culture war, you provide the ‘fishbone statement’ that will make these people choke. To stand up for the Stars and Stripes can be considered a form of private dissent, allowing you to needle those whose views you hate.

9 comments to Americanism: Style and Dissent

  • Sandy P

    You’re in MA, of course they’re anti-American. They voted in a communist-sympathizer and the son of an anti-semite as senators.

  • I’m not sure how you parse out “anti-Americanism” as winning a culture war. Outside of some fairly narrow demographics (Euro elites, for example) and some fairly narrow definitions of culture (politics, really), American culture is doing quite well in the cultural marketplace, thanks.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    An excellent point. I frequently tire of the anti-American diatribe spouted by (what we call in Australia) the ‘chattering classes’. However, I am always amused by their hypocrisy as they slurp up American produce – culture or otherwise – with gay, ignorant abandon.

    Vive la revolution.

  • Dale Amon

    It is a good point and one I have considered writing about but haven’t. Yet. The polarization really seemed to come on rather suddenly at some time after 9/11. Before that, I just tended to smile at certain types of argument or statement in the pub, or even attempt to engage in discussion. But I stopped caring about the other view point or engaging it. I really don’t much give an eff anymore what these people think. So I really do enjoy giving the Left Wing the “fishbone treatment” as you so nicely put it. In fact I take such pleasure in watching them choke and gag that the Right wing will probably outlaw it as being too much fun. Right up there with Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll as the simple pleasures of life 🙂

  • Gary Gunnels

    Supporting Bush is not the same as accepting America on its terms…

    I don’t support Bush. I’d never vote for that nanny-state scumbag. I must be an anti-American.

  • Stehpinkeln

    Does it matter? Non of the anti-American crowd has ANY power, political, social, economic or military. Nothing they say or do will change anything.

  • lucklucky

    Always matter, nazism started in only 10 years of preaching in a “educated” “advanced” population.

    The Church+Media concerted operation about the death of the Pope means that Christians in Europe will not feel ashamed (and that is crucial in childrens) to go to church in futur. It was the first cultural fight in Europe against Islamisation, i know this was somewhat lateral in the United Kingdom but in “Catholic Europe” was very strong.

    II World War started too late, when was already inevitable it was to be a World War instead of an European War because of the ” L’air du temps”.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    I would assert that a cultural fight over what you call ‘Islamisation’ is long overdue in Europe. What am I saying? The first punches have already been thrown.

  • Alice

    Thanks Lucklucky, “Always matter, nazism started in only 10 years of preaching in a “educated” “advanced” population.” In France, the Agence France Presse, AFP, has been promoting anti-americanism and pro-islamism (pro-Palestinian, pro north African… don’t tell me it’s different, they’re not suttle either). Bush is only pretext, no American president would have been tolerated by democracy killers like the axtremist you mentioned.

    Suffering, thanks for remembering us of Pim Fortuyn. I also think about Van Gogh who was slaughtered for the anti-islamic movie he shot “Submission”.

    Stehpinkeln, do you mean “Islam, how many divisions ?” Crowds of the poor countries, ready to convert or “deepen their faith” and willing to found a family in Europe.

    Philip Chaston, I like your style. I’m only surprised that you don’t mention the alliance between the extreme-left and Muslim politicians against the States, leader of the Western world, in France it’s obvious.