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Monday, February 25, 2008

Anti-Americanism and creative destruction 


Asia Times has an interesting opinion piece about Barack Obama, arguing that anti-Americanism runs deeply in his family, from his departed mother to his opinionated wife. I quite honestly do not know what to make of the argument, other than that it is fairly free of actual evidence and long on psychoanalysis. There is this, though: Barack Obama has not really been tested on the question, because Democratic primary voters include a large proportion of people who profess themselves "ashamed" to be American, at least with George W. Bush in the White House. Obama's intramural rivals, to date, would have had little to gain by raising the issue. That will not be true once his opponent is John McCain.

In any case, the essay does include an interesting explanation for anti-Americanism outside the United States:

America is not the embodiment of hope, but the abandonment of one kind of hope in return for another. America is the spirit of creative destruction, selecting immigrants willing to turn their back on the tragedy of their own failing culture in return for a new start. Its creative success is so enormous that its global influence hastens the decline of other cultures. For those on the destruction side of the trade, America is a monster. Between half and nine-tenths of the world's 6,700 spoken languages will become extinct in the next century, and the anguish of dying peoples rises up in a global cry of despair. Some of those who listen to this cry become anthropologists, the curators of soon-to-be extinct cultures; anthropologists who really identify with their subjects marry them....

I rather like this formulation, insofar as it captures my own attitude: the purpose of life is to create, and all creation requires destruction. We complete ourselves by creating, and also destroying. Most Americans understand this deep down. It is far from obvious that most other people in the world, whose ancestors did not avail themselves of America's new start and many second chances, agree either that creation is the purpose of life or that all acts of creation also destroy (although it does appear that a couple hundred million people in each of China and India are catching on fast). If true, then we should neither be surprised by anti-Americanism nor expect it to change without sacrificing the essential characteristic that makes America exceptional.

13 Comments:

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Mon Feb 25, 08:54:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by the author.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Mon Feb 25, 09:01:00 AM:

Huh? You are descending farther into esoteric, wing-nut creepiness. Stick to taxes, guns, union-busting, etc.--stuff where you can truly "get your whiteboy whine on" and sound halfway normal.

Chew on this, for instance: ALL of the acting awards in the Oscars went to Europeans. One interpretation--we breed silly insipid "stars" populating silly, insipid stories, while they breed skilled, thoughtful actors and stories. I dunno. Jury's still out there. OR, the Best Actress choice excepting, all of them were supremely anti-American interpretations of uniquely American evil; the ugly reflection in your rosy mirror. Day-Lewis' "Daniel Plainview" (indeed, day-Lewis's "Bill the Butcher" and even "Hawkeye"), Bardem's "Anton Chirgurh," Tilda Swinton's nervous Karl Rove-big corporate in-house counsel. Now, if Ellen Page had won, that'd be still be something "anti-," as Juno wasn't blonde, wasn't a cheerleader or junior Jesus freak, wasn't texting 1000 messages a day to her BFF as she avoided reading any book and obsessed over her next trip to the mall. Indeed, she actually seemed fairly intellectual for a weird little chick who gets knocked up by the nerd of nerds. Then you have "Persepolis" nominated for best cartoon--which in essense pokes fun of Western "superiority" even as it lampoons Islamic fundamentalism. All in all, an interesting night. But hey, "Sicko" didn't win. Three cheers, eh? Sorry "300" didn't win anything, but I'm sure there'll be something for you next year at the movies...

Hey, speaking of interesting, did you and your rightwing tribesmen catch Mike Huckabee on SNL? Certainly more entertaining than Tina Fey endorsing Hillary. Hmmmm...take away the Iraq War support and the Jesus freakery from Huckabee, add melanin and a better suit and...oops...you got Barack Obama.  

By Blogger SR, at Mon Feb 25, 09:29:00 AM:

Whew,and her I thought CC had been somehow creatively destroyed. Now, why exactly should it be surprising that Hollywood is honoring depictions of "uniquely American evil," when it has been trying for sometime now to peddle it (unsuccessfully at the box office) to the moviegoing public?
Come to think of it, why is there such a thing as "uniquely American evil?" What is the essence of it CC?  

By Blogger antithaca, at Mon Feb 25, 11:25:00 AM:

So, if CC is taking issue with Hollywood: Cool, I'm on board for that!

To your larger issue TH: "America is not the embodiment of hope, but the abandonment of one kind of hope in return for another."

Life, for adults, is full of choices like this.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 25, 12:13:00 PM:

People want stasis or the status quo when they are "on top", or at least comfortable. They want "revolution" when they are "on the bottom".
What America offers is a contant churning of social and financial status; to a degree.

So we avoid the cataclysmic, nation-wrenching revolutions (France is on their fifth republic), with the constant churning of our society. This does indeed make some people in the US very unhappy, as they don't like the churning. If you want a real revolution in America, I suggest that you read up on the tragedy and carnage of the Civil War to adjust your attitude. Real revolutions are usually a bloody mess.

Henry Ford was a Titan of manufacturing and wealth +80 years ago. His descendants seem determined to wreck the company he built. And so what?

-David  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 25, 12:46:00 PM:

CC posted some of the most racist comments i have seen in a long time. Sad the Left hasn't been able to move beyond that.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 25, 05:20:00 PM:

Wow. I'm not sure if this post would be found as the exemplar in the dictionary next to "xenophobia," "jingoism" or "mccarthyesque," but it is primal. I'll give it that.

Great job of boiling all arguments down into stereotypes and straw men, though. There aren't many who can pull off that trick so unselfconsciously.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 25, 07:00:00 PM:

Christopher Chambers comment is encapsulating why Obama won't win.

Outside of purely Black districts, Black candidates (as Michelle Obama wrote in her thesis) have to reassure white voters who make up the majority that they will not govern like Louis Farrakhan.

Obama's vocal supporters are ... well Louis Farrakhan. Who endorsed Obama as the candidate of Black Men and "the World." Against America.

Chambers typifies this attitude.

White voters make up 75% of the electorate. They are not going to vote for Nation of Islam lite which is what Obama has positioned himself.

Obama COULD win. But he'd have to tear apart Farrakhan, promise to put the guy in jail for killing Malcolm X, repudiate his soft-on-Muslim views (typified by his getup with Somali elders tied to Islamic Courts Union and connected to BlackHawk Down) and run to the RIGHT of GWB.

He can't do that because he worries about being "Black enough" and drinks deeply from anti-American sentiment.

Obama won't wear a flag lapel pin. That's too "white." He won't say the Pledge of Allegiance. "Too White." He won't act respectful during the National Anthem. "Too White." Hangs around with Weather Underground terrorists. Wants a Muslim Summit. Wants to apologize to America in person to Nutjob and Raul Castro. Has a nutty, Black Supremacist preacher and church.

Obama has never run a campaign where he has to appeal to moderate Dems and independents against Republican candidates who can wave the flag convincingly.

McCain can offer he loves America enough to be tortured for her. While Obama can't even respect the Flag. Painting for 75% of the electorate a Farrakhan lite.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Mon Feb 25, 08:27:00 PM:

The creative destruction is not uniquely American. The free market under the rule of law is simply a method that works, and Americans use it. So do the Scandinavians, for that matter, who apply their market (uh, ruthless) competition to other countries, reserving socialism for internal use only. If Americans use more saws, they will cut more wood - that does not make saws an American hegemonic idea.

As to the languages disappearing, it is not English that is their primary foe. The thousand languages of New Guinea are being pushed out by Tok Pisin (admittedly, based partly on English) and regional languages, while the regional languages of India - Tamil, Bengali - are creating more pressure on the language isolates. In China, Mandarin is the hegemon. In Central and South America, it is Spanish and Portuguese which displace all those smaller versions. Several languages in Africa, including Swahili(s) and Arabic(s) are replacing all those Bantu and !Kung languages that westerners romantically believe should be preserved.

The world changes ever, but at present, we blame it all on the Americans. If Anonymous wants to enter an actual discussion (rather than resort to the typical Arts & Humanities stereotypes of America himself), there are several here who would be willing to oblige. Before you attempt that though, Anon, you might consider that we may actually have heard rumor of what the common wisdom is before you tell it to us. Folks here are more likely to have considered it and found it wanting than to have not been enlightened by being exposed to Better Thought.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 25, 09:41:00 PM:

Obama’s efforts to connect to the Republican Party, specifically Bush, and Dick Chaney, of the Halliburton Company, dates back to the Presidents Grandfather, Prescott Bush, and indeed Chaney was once an executive officer of Halliburton.

The American military pounds Iraq with Artillary, bombs, and the like, destroying large sections of cities, and infra-structures, then Halliburton comes in to rebuild. Halliburton and Halliburton associated companies have raked in ten’s of billions.

Obama is just like the BIG HALIBURTAN. Haliburton has contracted to build detention centers in the U.S. similiar to the one in Quantanammo Bay, Cuba. Halliburton does nothing to earn the Two Dollars for each meal an American Serviceman in Iraq eats.

http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/

Halliburton was scheduled to take control of the Dubai Ports in The United Arab Emiirate. The deal was canceled when Bush was unable to affect the transfer of the American Ports.

Now we see what some might suspect as similiar financial escapading from the Democrats.

Two years ago, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity gave a $50 million contract to a start-up security company - Companion- owned by now-indicted businessman (TONY REZKO) Tony Rezko and a onetime Chicago cop, Daniel T. Frawley, to train Iraqi power-plant guards in the United States. An Iraqi leadership change left the deal in limbo. Now the company, Companion Security, is working to revive its contract.
Involved along with Antoin “Tony” Rezco, long time friend and neighbor of Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, and former cop Daniel T. Frawley, is Aiham Alsammarae. Alsammarae was accused of financial corruption by Iraqi authorities and jailed in Iraq last year before escaping and returning here.

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON --
Obama should be vetted and disclose his connection to the criminal money generating underworld. Besides, his connections to the REZCO MAFIA types, his up-coming tax fraud charges — Obama needs to disclose why he is a MUSLIM "PATWANG-FWEEE" and stop suppoting our intervention in IRAQ. It’s time to introduce this false, fake Xerox - X box Obama and invite the self-indicting thief plagiarizing pipsqueke "GLORK" Xerox - X box to meet the Buffalo "GAZOWNT-GAZIKKA" Police Department Buffalo Creek. He is MAD!!! --

OBAM YOUR NO JFK --
"GLORK" Obama looks like Alfred E. Newman: "Tales Calculated To Drive You." He is a MUSLIM "Glork" He's MAD!!! Alfred E. Neuman is the fictional mascot of Mad. The face had drifted through American pictography for decades before being claimed by Mad editor Harvey Kurtzman after he spotted it on the bulletin board in the office of Ballantine Books editor Bernard Shir-Cliff, later a contributor to various magazines created by Kurtzman.
Obama needs to disclose why he is a MUSLIM "PATWANG-FWEEE" and stop suppoting our intervention in IRAQ. It’s time to introduce this false, fake "GLORK" Xerox - X box Obama and invite the self-indicting thief plagiarizing pipsqueke Xerox - X box to meet the Buffalo "GAZOWNT-GAZIKKA" Police Department Buffalo Creek.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 25, 11:36:00 PM:

Ned anymore reasons why BARACK OBAMA is bad for america?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 26, 10:25:00 AM:

this sure is an interesting thread, though a little puzzling  

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