Friday, September 29, 2006

Hyman Celebrates Hatred

In November of 2001, I was visiting a friend in England. After a day of sightseeing, I was walking from my hotel down to the street corner to call my then-girlfriend back in the States. I happened to end up falling into a conversation with a couple of women who were on their way out for the evening. After chatting a bit about the pleasures of tourism and the discomfort of high heels (theirs, not mine), they said, “We just want to tell you that we’re so sorry for what happened in America. We’re on your side.”

Tthis was a typical reaction most people in Europe, and around the world for that matter, had in the days, weeks, and months following the 9/11 attacks. Moments of silence were held around the world’s capitals. The French newspaper Le Monde said “We are all Americans now.” At Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Guard played the "Star Spangled Banner. "

There were huge public displays of sympathy, including places where you might not expect it such as Tehran . . .

. . .and Palestine

What does this have to do with Mark Hyman
? In a recent editorial titled “Hatred for America,” he quotes journalist Anne Applebaum’s recent column describing some Europeans as secretly pleased by the attacks because of their simmering contempt for what America has come to represent.

In fact, she doesn’t say what Hyman claims she does, that Europeans were pleased by the attacks. She says “some Britons” and “many Europeans.” That qualification becomes even more important when you understand that she is talking about politicians and journalists, not the people of Europe generally.

Citing newspaper articles and speeches by politicians that criticized America’s foreign policy goals as contributing to the attacks, Applebaum notes that there were some public voices who, even only days after 9/11, pointed out uncomfortable things about the U.S., and even showed some resentment that the U.S. acted as if terrorism had been invented on September 11, 2001, neglecting the fact that Europeans had lived with it for decades.

But Hyman takes this thesis (which, even in Applebaum’s more tentative wording, still overstates the case) and uses it to support the idea that Europeans in general hate America.

The idea of American exceptionalism is nothing new, but the deformed version of it that has emerged from the neo-con crowd in recent years *is*. Unlike any time in the past, foreign hatred of America is now lauded as some sort of sign of American strength and fortitude, to the point where folks like Hyman wildly exaggerate animosity felt towards the U.S. by claiming it’s always been at the levels we see today.

The reasoning behind this is easy enough to suss out. The growth of critical views of America coincides with the continuing militaristic foreign policy of the Bush administration and the disdain for our allies and the whole concept of an international community. By claiming we were always hated to the extent we are now, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the neo-cons turn anti-Americanism into a sort of social pathology suffered by others for which we bear no responsibility.

More broadly, it supports the underlying philosophy that America’s status as the lone superpower gives it the right to do what it wants, when it wants—to shape the world to its will. If we’re already despised, what reason do we have to take anyone else’s opinions into consideration?

Once upon a time, American exceptionalism was based on the idea that America embodied freedom, democracy, and opportunity in a way no other nation on the globe did, that we served as an example that others wanted to emulate. We were the country that people around the world wanted to come to. While people risked their lives to leave their native countries, people were risking their lives to come to America.

Today, things have gotten so bad that we now have turned distrust and hostility toward us into proof of our rightness.

Hyman wants to let Bush off the hook for squandering the unique opportunity that existed after September 11 to unite the world in fighting terrorism, and to unite Americans in pushing for energy independence—something that would put an end to a foreign policy held hostage by a need for Mideast oil. But we shouldn’t. By cutting and running from the fight against al Qaeda and hijacking 9/11 to support an unrelated foreign policy goal in Iraq that had been lusted after by neo-cons long before that September morning, Bush not only squandered his presidency, but much more importantly, sacrificed a historic opportunity on the altar of arrogant self-assuredness.

If I could speak to those two women I talked to in Britain that night five years ago, I’d say, “I’m so sorry for what has happened in America in these last few years. I'm on your side.”

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.47


At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Herbert Birdsfoot said...

Ted, one of the things I like about your blog is that since the majority of Hyman's commentary is stock right-wing spin, by debunking Hyman, you also debunk a hefty portion of the right-wing mythology.

This "Hate America" thing that the right keeps throwing around is so ridiculous though, that it is barely worth comment. Its like explaining that "up" is "up" to someone who insists that it is actually down. I would say that violating constitutional freedoms doesn't show much love for the country.

I haven't posted much for a while but I am still reading your blog. You don't leave much uncovered so there hasn't been much that needs to be added. Maybe you need a troll to get the comments rolling in. ;)

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“I’m so sorry for what has happened in America in these last few years. I'm on your side.”

Yeh, me too Ted!

But, that's not a lot different than what the Dixie Chicks told their audience in England and look what happened to them!

Of course, that was helped along by another sinister right-wing media conglomerate that goes by the name "ClearChannel", that owns 1500 or so radio stations.

Not to worry Ted, the same fate will not befall you, as your fan base is comprised of a totally different demographic.

I love the Dixie Chicks and their music, and I think they are three of the most talented musicians and vocal artists in the biz. Unfortunately, I am not a good representative sample of their fan base.

They badly underestimated the ignorance of most of their fans. The same people that loved, requested and listened to their songs on those infamous radio stations, also got their daily fix of Limbaugh, Boortz, Liddy, Savage and all the rest from the same place.

The Chicks, being more traveled and worldly, forgot that the lies, distortions, and ignorance being shoveled on their fans was not just skin-deep, the ignorance went right down to the bone!

Thanks for reminding us of what could have been, had we a president at the time with just a touch of feeling for his fellow human beings.

If we want to make this a better world in which to live and raise our families, we must replace end-times, prophesy and revelation, with empathy, compassion and reason.

Thanks Ted.
Mike B. in SC

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Thanks for the kind words Herbert and Mike!

Yes, ol' Sick of Spin was certainly entertaining, wasn't he?

On the Dixie Chicks thing, I hear there's a great documentary on them that's come out, focusing on the aftermath of the whole Bush/Iraq statement.

It's frustrating that more people don't get that supporting George Bush is not only not the same as supporting America, but is in fact the opposite. On an almost daily basis, we're learning new things about how the White House has undercut and undermined the military, and how the Iraq invasion has sacrificed thousands of lives and made us less safe.


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, folks, so you miss the Troll.

So, I'll act as a "guest troll", using actual sentiments from our troll.

Here we go:

You liberals make me sick. You complain about Mark Hyman, but you despicable morons do the very same thing. Shameful.

Also, while you try to cloak you words in fancy phrases, you are all part of the Hate America Crowd. I bet yer soft on Terrorism. I even bet yer soft on Torture.


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