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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
02/15/02 -- Vol. 20, No. 33
Table of Contents
Note on VOID Schedule:
This week's issue is being sent early due to Boskone, even though dated Friday, February 15. Next week's issue will be sent on Friday as usual (February 22). [-ecl]
I have been reading from several different sources about the new acceptability of anti-Americanism in Europe. Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have been linked and fairly common in world media for a long time but anti-Americanism has been mostly separate. However, the United States's support of Israel has caused most of the Middle East to link America and Zionism and that connection has been readily picked up by Europe, so that the three "anti" ideologies have become connected. Some of the same engines that pull anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism pull anti-Americanism and the three are acceptable in much of the world, not excluding the United States.
An article in the October 1, 2001, BUSINESS WEEK reported on some of the international reaction following the September 11 attack. A caller to Radio France Internationale asked, "What is so special about the American dead? Millions have died in Africa, but they never left messages on answering machines since they were too poor to have cell phones." In China one of the electronic bulletin boards complained, "They are constantly intervening in other countries' affairs. This is an opinion shared by all my co- workers." These two people may think that they agree, and they do as far as whom they are complaining about, but their complaints are really diametrically opposed. One complains because the United States is not intervening enough in Africa; one complains that the United States intervenes too much. This is the price of being the leading military superpower. Once you have the power to shape other countries' affairs you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Some people want the United States to police the world, others want them to stay out of other countries' business. It is impossible to please both camps.
I was in Australia during the East Timor crisis in 1999. This was the furthest I had ever been from the United States, geographically if not culturally, and not far from the opposite point on the globe from my home. People were dying in nearby East Timor as the Indonesian government was trying by any means necessary to hang onto control. The Indonesian military was committing atrocities against people of the pro-independence movement. This was a very near neighbor of Australia. And Australians I heard on the radio were irate. Why wasn't the United States doing anything to stop the killing? Why weren't they sending in troops? Does it not matter to the Americans because it is not in their part of the world? These people had no expectation that their own government had any responsibility either because of geography or morality. If my understanding is correct, Australia did eventually intervene, but only after it was clear that the United States would not be the world's policeman in this affair. Any tragedy that the United States had the power to avert but did not avert is the fault of the United States. If the United States does try to intercede and fails, as it attempted to in Somalia in 1993, it is condemned for its failure. It is interesting that this complainer is French. France is a country that has no small reason to be grateful to the United States after two World Wars the last century. France's own incursions in the African continent have been less than benevolent. But he assumes that if there are so many dead in Africa it has to be the fault of the United States.
One of the chief charges against the United States is cultural imperialism. The complaint is that McDonalds and American movies are invading so many foreign countries and taking healthy root. I admit myself to be disappointed to go to Hong Kong and see McDonalds was a going concern there. But their tactics did not appear to be at any time be using force to get customers into the store. McDonalds is profitable in Hong Kong because there are large numbers of people in Hong Kong who want to eat at McDonalds. The best way to avoid having to eat a McDonalds hamburger is simply not to buy one. This is by no means a "conversion by the sword." The only thing forcing this product on people is its popularity. The same goes for Coca-Cola and Sylvester Stallone movies. The United States has just had a very successful century at least economically and Europe has responded first with a sort of cultural pride and even arrogance, and by trying to copy the united states concept by uniting their own states and creating their own single currency. This is imitation and implicitly the sincerest form of flattery. To remain even-handed they must counter the unavoidable compliment with criticism. They want Europe to be a single economic giant like the United States, but the United States has done it wrong in dozens of ways they are happy to list and they are going to do it right. They begrudge the United States its economic success while trying to emulate it.
Much of Europe are those who want to remain even-handed and take a middle view between the American view and that of the people who are anti-American. But the gap where they are standing is becoming wider by the month. To stand between the policies of the United States and those people rabidly opposed to those policies one has to make oneself half-rabid. As they continue to stand halfway in that widening difference we can expect to see them move further and further away. [-mrl]
Quote of the Week: Congress - these, for the most part, illiterate hacks whose fancy vests are spotted with gravy, and whose speeches, hypocritical, unctuous, and slovenly, are spotted also with the gravy of political patronage. - Mary McCarthy
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