Why They Hate Us
And no, it's not George Bush.
I recall when in grad school in the early 1990s -- this being after the Cold War, when Clinton was President -- and a Portugese fellow student in the physics department whom I knew well, announced very matter-of-factly that it was clear there would never be peace in the world unless all the other countries got together to "smash the States."
Because we were the source of all evil.
They only liked us for a few moments after 9/11 because we seemed to have been brought low, battered and humiliated. It was condescension and schadenfreude, not true solidarity.
The BBC examines Anti-Americanism. And this Englishman author blames...the French!
The US is perceived by many as an international bully, a modern day imperial power. At this critical moment in history, Washington correspondent Justin Webb challenges that idea.Their left-wing hates us because we are not ruled by an intellectual elite; their right-wing (not a good analog to the "American" political right) hates us because we are not ruled by an elite based on heredity and breeding.
He argues anti-Americanism is often a cover for hatreds with little justification in fact. His three part series takes him to Cairo, Caracas and Washington but it begins where anti-Americanism began - in Paris.
Anti-Americanism was born in France. And here's a fascinating fact: it was born well before the United States existed. It was not caused by Coca-Cola, or McDonald's, or Hollywood or George W Bush.
The prevailing view among French academics throughout the 18th Century was that the New World was ghastly. It stank, it was too humid for life to prosper. And, as one European biologist put it: "Everything found there is degenerate or monstrous."
In their heart of hearts, many French people still believe that to be true.
A French intellectual once compared the United States with Belgium. Wounding. But you see what he meant: the French capital has a grandeur about it that demands attention on the world stage. Belgium does not, nor does most of America.
Washington is grand but Washington was designed by a Frenchman and his vision didn't fit the rest of the nation. America is ordinary. Go on say it out loud on the streets of Paris: "America is ordinary". It celebrates the pursuit of small-scale happiness - in families and communities - and that is what the anti-Americans can't stand.
In May 1944 (just weeks before American GIs landed on the beaches of Normandy), Hubert Beuve-Mery, the founder of Le Monde newspaper - certainly no mouthpiece of the right - wrote this: "The Americans represent a real danger for France, different from the one posed by Germany or the one with which the Russians may - in time - threaten us. The Americans may have preserved a cult of Liberty but they do not feel the need to liberate themselves from the servitude which their capitalism has created."The stunning success of a mongrel nation of fat Americans with no sense of culture can therefore only be attributed to unfairness and evildoing, and surely not to its own merits. Hating America is thus the only obvious moral choice for the Euro-elite.
It is time that we understood that this attitude, this contempt for what democracy can do, is at the heart of at least some of the anti-Americanism we see in the world today.