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From Crikey today:
The Australian marks US Independence Day today with an op-ed piece by Barry Hing on anti-Americanism, which he describes as a “rising tide” of “bigotry”:
“There is a ferocity with which Americans are being lampooned, and it can apply to anything – accents, food, entertainment, social graces, fashion, weight, as well as their supposed lack of intelligence and insensitivity to other cultures. … [W]hile it’s become perfectly acceptable to poke fun at Americans for their s-xual attitudes or religiosity, it’s deemed as highly inappropriate and even bigoted to subject other nationalities to the same jabs.”
Hing has got a point. Anti-American sentiment is sometimes associated with extreme ignorance; it can easily descend to the “banal and crude”. But I think his argument depends on forgetting the context in which America is criticised.
The assumption is that the US is just another country; that jibes against Americans are on a par with Irish jokes or anti-Asian prejudice.
But the US really is different: it’s a global hegemon of unprecedented power. What America does – and therefore what America is – affects everyone, in a way that just isn’t true of any other country. When worrying trends take hold in America, from obesity to reality TV to fundamentalist Christianity, they’re a legitimate matter of concern to the rest of us.
Although Hing pays lip service to the idea that his target is different “from plain and reasonable criticism of US foreign policy and attitudes”, the effect (and probably the intent) of demonising anti-Americanism is to dampen or discredit that criticism. Just ask Mark Latham, whose views on the American alliance were ignored because the commentariat succeeded in branding them as “anti-American”.
Certainly, critics of America should try to become more well-informed. But if they do, one of the things that they would learn is that the attitudes Hing thinks of as anti-American – fierce dissent from the current state of American culture and policy – are actually held by many citizens of the US.
They think of themselves as patriotic Americans; they just dislike where their country is going. We should be able to share that dislike without being labelled as bigots.
I’m back in Australia by the way. Not loving the 20 hour flying time, but am loving the quiet, the clean and fresh air of Canberra.
Also loving seeing family, friends and Aussie sport.
It’s amazing how much I have missed the Aussie accent in everyday living. Yeah, I work with Aussies and hear lots of accents during work, but I love hearing it over the tv, and the mall loudspeakers, and those people chatting beside me at the airport.
Makes me remember that home is always best.
I included that piece from Crikey because I thought it was interesting to read another point of view on the ‘anti-Americanism’ that has been a part of Australian culture for a while now. But the last line is true. People just don’t like where the country has been heading this last 6 years in particular. Coincidence that it coincides with a certain Wanker in charge?
I mean, there’s also been a vein of the Anti-American feelings, but before we would just laugh at their medieval laws and stupid spellings. Now it’s harder to laugh about world oil ownership and lack of freedom to live and speak. So now we get more serious about our feelings because things are a lot more serious in general.
Anyway…enough of that…Happy Indepence Day to my American friends. It’s a little sad that I miss it, but to be honest I am much more glad that I am here in sunny cold Canberra.
A rant….but not as long as he talked.. June 29, 2006Posted by Mick in Rants.
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I went and saw Jello Biafra tonight. If you don’t know who he is, and by golly most people don’t, he’s the ex-lead singer of The Dead Kennedys.
Nowadays he does spoken word shows at rock clubs to ‘granola munching’ greenies and liberals.
Tonight I was one of those, but really I am just totally anti-Bush and anti-American that I thought I would fit right in.
Luckily the show was exactly that. He bit right to the core of the problems with not only the American Republicans, but also the Democrats and the media and mostly anyone who’s partly responsible for the degradation of America and it’s society and image that it portrays around the world.
Some, but not all of the issues he touched on…
- The total and utter stupidity of the monkey they call the President.
- The shocking hidden truth about the voting machines and ‘mislaid’ votes from the 2000 and 2004 elections.
- The golden handshakes, pats on the back and arse-kissing that Bush and the government hands out to big oil companies and multi-nationals.
- The farce of the aftermath to Hurricane Katrina and the complete disregard for human life.
- The Iraq war and the unbelievable sacrifice of human life for oil.
- The role the media plays in dumbing down the American public so they don’t realise what a Fuckhead they have for a ‘leader’
- The brainwashing pile of garbage provided by news channels, magazines and newspapers that never tell the full story, let alone accurate.
- The story of Jessica Lynch that came out of Iraq and the fact that it was fabricated bullshit.
- The evidence of global warming that the government prefers to cover up, instead searching for oil where the arctic ice used to be.
- The Christian right and the fact that when the rapture comes at least the rest of the people will be left to fix the country.
There was a lot lot more but we only stayed for 2 hours and 20 minutes and he was just taking his first break.
It’s a pity that he was speaking to a room of already converted people because a lot of what he had to say should be told to the people that refuse to listen to this sort of stuff and continue to live in their little ‘American-made’ bubble.
But in the whole it was all a little depressing. There’s just so many things wrong and just so little ways t o fix it. How can people be trusted to vote for the right people when they aren’t interested in even finding out the truth.
The same goes with Australians. We are very quickly sliding down that slippery slope that the US has been forging for years. If we don’t stop it now it’ll be too late.
I think it is already too late for the USA. Bush has sucken soooo much money into the Iraq war that everything back home is suffering and the huge debts that he’ll be left with will cripple it’s ability to recover it’s own infrastructure…let alone someone elses. Every superpower falls. I think this is just the beginning of the end for the United States, and I for one am glad I won’t be here when it sinks.
But we have to stop it from happening to Australia. We have to make sure we don’t fall down that slope after them. Just because America jumps off a cliff…….
I don’t know the solution, but one day the government will realilse that sticking their nose so far up the American bum will only bring us our downfall.
This government? No.
Maybe the next one.
Try melting it instead June 28, 2006Posted by Mick in Rants.
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Oh, and another thing. Inspired by Ang, The US Senate voted against a constitutional amendment today to prevent American flag burning…..by one single vote.
Look at this Australia. If the US can’t even ratify a law like this, then why would we even bother for ‘our’ flag.
I heard comments when Australia was in the world cup from Americans like..
“Hey…why are they waving a British flag..”
Time for a new flag Australia. I mean, seriously.