On Hatred and Anti-Americanism (December 9, 2005)
"Sartre wrote that people who give in to the pleasures of hatred do so because they cannot abide their own frailties. Weakness and imperfection are the human condition. But weakness and imperfection leave us unsatisfied, maybe even disgusted with ourselves.This is a quote from an article in The New Republic I highly recommend, FRANCE'S FAILURES, HATREDS, AND SIGNS OF A NEW LOOK AT AMERICA: The Anti-Anti-Americans by Paul Berman.
Berman reviews five new books on the long history of French anti-Americanism, which we find is embedded deep within French culture and history. We also find, via the Le discours de la haine (Discourses on Hatred) by André Glucksmann, that French anti-Americanism is, for all intents and purposes, a form of pathological hatred.
By way of example, consider that books which claim the FBI, in cahoots with Jewish co-conspirators, is actually responsible for blowing up the Twin Towers on 9/11, are raging bestsellers in France, along with titles which giddily predict the utter collapse of American "Empire."
I myself have heard average Frenchmen decrying the lack of democracy in the U.S. Speaking to my brother, who lives in the south of France, they shake their heads gravely and decry that all U.S. elections are rigged, Bush is worse than Hitler, etc. in tones which suggest they actually believe such absolute rubbish.
Meanwhile, elections in France don't have to be rigged; there is not one minority mayor in the entire country, despite its vast minority population of Asians and North Africans.
Speaking of the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center, one French commentator said, "Ultimately, they were the ones who did it, but we were the ones who wanted it."
Can you imagine an American commentator blithely admitting to a hatred of France so great that the massacre of 3,000 French citizens would be cause for celebration?
The source of such hatred is, as the quote suggests, a deep insecurity, a penetrating awareness of weakness and decline, and a visceral fear of the future. The irony is, of course, that the decline of America would not strengthen France at all; the breach would be filled by other less democratic powers, not by France. With 60 million citizens, 10 million of them restive minorities largely cut off from opportunities for advancement, 10% unemployment, an unaffordable social security network and a moribund economy, France is not exactly in an expansive, global-domineering mode.
So much easier, as it is for other nations as well, to focus not on their own decline and structural impediments, but on hating America for its strengths.
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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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