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A Title (Mis)Match

This is a guest post by Joe Noory:

For the past two weeks the story has been making the rounds. Fouad Ajami of the School for Advanced International Studies offers a recitation of the timbre of the traditional hatred floating around between Europe and the Near East. The title of his Wall Street Journal op-ed is "Anti-Americanism Is Mostly Hype", but seems to end up being betrayed by selectively deciding the bombings of the 80's and 90's being little other than hype, not to mention the Hizballah's debutante party on Marines stationed in Beirut as part of an Palestinian-Israeli cease fire, the holding of American diplomats as hostages in Teheran, and so forth:

I grew up in the Arab world in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and anti-Americanism was the standard political language - even for those pining for American visas and green cards. Precious few took this seriously. The attraction to the glamorous, distant society was too strong in the Beirut of my boyhood.
It is no different today in Egypt or Pakistan. And what people tell pollsters who turn up in their midst with their clipboards? In Hosni Mubarak's tyranny, anti-Americanism is the permissible safety valve for Egyptians unable to speak of their despot. We stand between Pharaoh and his frustrated people, and the Egyptians railing against America are giving voice to the disappointment that runs through their life and culture. Scapegoating and anti-Americanism are a substitute for a sober assessment of what ails that old, burdened country.

This happens to be rather at odds of the Beirut of my childhood, where being apparently "Imriki," and not Lebanese in ones' American-ness made one a hostage-taker's commodity. For all you youngsters out there: it was not a status symbol.

With the tone of "see!" I've received this article from people of numerous ideological appeals, it seems to have become something of thing that is either all things to all people, when in fact it offers the most inscrutable thing to those lacking healthy skepticism: a handful of data points. That it helps prop up a theory is one thing, that it shows us patterns that will remain in force for a century to come is another: a fundamental lack of seriousness in those carrying that anger around.

Nor should we listen too closely to the anti-American hysteria that now grips Turkey. That country was once a serious, earnest land. It knew its place in the world as a bridge between Europe and Islam. But of late it has become the "torn country" that the celebrated political scientist Samuel Huntington said it was, its very identity fought over between the old Kemalist elites and the new Islamists.

Imagine the self-evasion associated with looking for evil under every sack of American corn meal, and what this means to the risk it exposes the emoting "victim" of this malady of the concrete risks to their lives, and to the detriment it does to the prospect of looking at ones' own society honestly.

That we are to minimize the weight given to the impact Anti-Americanism has is an evasion in itself. If it IS just a metaphor for those who can't "discuss the Pharaoh," and it remains that way for the next 50 years as it has for the past 50 years, then it's indicative of a much larger problem than even those hesitating to minimize the use of anti-Americanism as a verbal magic wand can imagine.
Further he notes:

He said he feared that Mr. Obama, as a "black man," might succumb to an "inferiority complex" if he were to come to power. "This is a great menace because Obama might turn out to be more white than the whites, exaggerating his persecution and disdain of blacks. The statements of our Kenyan brother with an American nationality about Jerusalem, and his support for Israelis, and his slighting of the Palestinian people is either a measure of his ignorance of international politics or a lie perpetrated on the Jews in the course of an election campaign."
There is no need to roam distant lands in search of indictments of America's ways. Tales of our demise appear every day in our media. Yes, it is not perfect, this republic of ours. But the possibilities for emancipation and self-improvement it affords are unmatched in other lands.

But this is meaningless in the context of America's future, or even the future of the anti-American at that. It is simply a truth, but one that may not cause anti-Americanism as some would fear, nor endear America to those given to resentment.

It simply 'is' while the risk to America is not in it's image, it's the concrete risks identified on the left as "the amount of time we must remain in the dar el harb, and by the right that the concept of the dar el harb still exists in the zeitgeist at all. Either way, a beloved or hated America, as Ajami cites the lack of seriousness found among those who hate it, still has to debate whether or not we are America Alone.

Image, as Ajami points out by example, isn't everything. But risk and interest have very little to do with image. The European Union should take this as an object lesson, since that very same concern with their image seems rather consuming, and consuming at the expense of their effectiveness in creating any sort of instrument of statecraft at all.

Joe Noory is an Architect who blogs in his abundant spare time at ¡No Pasarán!


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franchie on :

"The Pew survey tells us that some foreign precincts show a landslide victory for Barack Obama. France leads the pack; fully 84% of those following the American campaign are confident... ...of course, that anti-Americanism runs deep in the French intellectual scene, and that French thought about the great power across the Atlantic has long been a jumble of envy and condescension. In the fabled years of the Clinton presidency, long before Guantanamo, the torture narrative and the war in Iraq, American pension funds were, in the French telling, raiding their assets, bringing to their homeland dreaded Anglo-Saxon economics, and the merciless winds of mondialisation (globalization)" Blah, Blah, Blah... one can think that some people like to stirr the same old potion, to maintain the paranoid pression 60% = 84%, too bad !!!! I can see why our friend chose this article

franchie on :

"Ajami is arguably one of the most politically influential Arab-American intellectuals of his generation. Condoleezza Rice has been known to summon him to the White House for advice, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a friend and former colleague at SAIS, has paid tribute to him in speeches on Iraq."

Pat Patterson on :

An unattributed paragraph from Wikipedia which itself needs a citation for its conclusion. What's the point?

franchie on :

the point is : Ajami is partisan or ya need a clue :lol:

Pat Patterson on :

But if one came to that conclusion based on the mentioned unattributed paragraph which, as I pointed out, needs a citation, then the question remains how gullible are some people? If by reading some of the other blurbs in Wikipedia then one could have been left with a different perspective. Ajami was and is still an advocate of Palestinian rights and has had a long running, though civil, disagreement with Samuel Huntington. Just how serious can I take someone who forms their opinions based on Wikipedia?

franchie on :

"Just how serious can I take someone who forms their opinions based on Wikipedia", no quite though, (apparently you did surf on wiki for the same enquiry) I have already seen this article on another place, and the remarck I got " how do you dare, this man is a wellknown trustful academic" I see bias, is trustful in your academies !!! fortunately, my critic sense is french !!!

Pat Patterson on :

But again no citation? Plus did you even read the article that Joe Noory was referring too? Plus I found the article by simply typing in the borrowed passage as I always do when there is no attribution. Plus I certainly hope that the critical sense in France would extend itself to at least read the opening of the post which might indicate that Faoud Ajami doesn't think too highly of the idea of entrenched anti-Americanism and that Joe Noory offered a counterpoint. I would hope that not reading the intro, borrowing quotes from Wikipedia and then completely missing the gist of the criticism Joe offered is not typical of French critical thinking.

franchie on :

do you make citation either ? of course i read the article, and I found not surprising that Joe Nourry stopped on it, till now, Joe didn't offer us a fair analyse of the relations between us and America, so far, i can't take much care of what he disserts. (ie no passaran) wikipedia is your obsession, though you quote it at times, it's not my cup of tea, but I don't mind quoting it when I know that I agree with it contend again, your playing the teacher to, ya, stupid frenchs I can't see there your holding a symmetric truth

Pat Patterson on :

When someone claims that, "...of course I read the article," and then proceeds to attack the authors for past disagreements or with the vaguest sense of the actual article means that you are lying through your teeth and don't have enough sense to simply pass on a post when you don't like the author. I guess the temptation to make a ineffectual and dishonest ad hominem attack on Prof. Ajami and Joe Noory is simply too strong. As to another source of your cribbed reference to Ajami, the intro by Charlie Rose, it might have escaped your notice but that was attributed to Wikipedia. Plus I don't think that calling yourself a "stupid frenchs..." is good for your well-being.

franchie on :

professor Paterson, can't see that your response isn't what you call an attack on me either ; "Plus I don't think that calling yourself a "stupid frenchs..." is good for your well-being." - believe what you want, got very good appreciations from a few US philosophy teachers... you don't believe it, sure, feel free to deshonnor yourself... (a De Gaulle sentence to churchill, when the latter was doing some chantage, wether he would help him or not ) Mr Ajami hasn't prove his honesty , you just have to check his numbers, it's what I did first, if you had really read my posts and not focusing on the wiki extract So long, France or EU are on board, I'll be there to point any blatant unfairness... keep it in mind

Pat Patterson on :

It's actually more simple than that as you used the wrong poll. The poll Prodf. Ajami used to argue that anti-Americanism is not as strong as believed and that of the 24 nations surveyed France had the greatest amount of confidence in Obama, 84%. So we are still back to a malign lack of scholarship and an animus towards Ajami and Noory. Relying on the wrong poll numbers and then an ad hominem attack on one of the authors. Well, I am glad that you clearly understood the "lying through your teeth part." Because I think that is clearly what you were doing in switching the polls. Try these numbers, the ones Ajami used,

franchie on :

"So we are still back to a malign lack of scholarship and an animus towards Ajami and Noory. Relying on the wrong poll numbers and then an ad hominem attack on one of the authors." that's a grocer's argument, both have the same conclusion : 40 to 42 % are favorable to the US as a political entity, more if it 's only the population as far as 84 % of frenchs being pro-Obama, I wonder who they questionned, can't see that it is the reality here, the majority doesn't care all your "bits of string" argumentation doesn't change the first intention from these 2 persons you are defending so smartly : 1 - Did Mr Nourry ever had a fair analyse on the Frenchs ? 2 - Does Mr Ajami not work for the actual Bush administration ? that has said all the possible things on us before Sarko was elected ?

Joe Noory on :

There is little to no analysis of the French, and only one static cited about the French in the poll, because neither the article, the Pew survey, or the post are about the French. You know - it IS possible for people to breathe or think without it actually being about the French.

franchie on :

You know - it IS possible for people to breathe or think without it actually being about the French yeah, your the vindicative proof of that

quo vadis on :

I wonder how much of the anti-Americanism in Europe and elsewhere is recreational and how much is serious. I live in San Francisco, which is probably as anti-American as any European country. Most people who like to rant on about BushCo, or ‘Corporate America’ or Gitmo or whatever, do so more for the recreational value than as legitimate criticism or accusation. It seems to be a kind of group binding exercise where they assert their moral superiority over ‘those people’ - usually some imagined stereotypical rednecks that they suspect inhabit great swaths of Middle-America. However, when pressed on any of the more outrageous claims they inevitably respond with a ‘Yeah, well…’. When Fahrenheit 911 came out everyone was talking about it like it actually meant something. A few weeks later it was forgotten because everyone knew it was a wildly speculative, over the top rant. It was fun to get all worked up over it for a while, but it certainly wasn’t something on which to base policy or legal action. I suspect that Michael Moore and other US critics like Chomsky tend to be taken more seriously outside the US than inside and I believe that it is because Americans have much more context in which to evaluate the validity of these criticisms than people outside the US do. Without that context, you can't tell the difference between a rant and a legitimate criticism.

Pat Patterson on :

I thought everybody in San Francisco was really only upset at two things; Joe Montana retiring and Eddie Jr. losing control of the 49ers. I mean lets get our priorities straight.

quo vadis on :

That's what the benighted regular folks worry about. The sophisticated 'citizens of the world' like the members of our rather comical Board of Supervisors worry about more important things like banning the Blue Angels from what used to be our Fleet Week airshow, formally condemning radio and TV talk show hosts and other things of critical importance to the people of San Francisco and the world.

Don S on :

Yes, Quo. Moore is largely regarded as an entertainer (as opposed to an opinion leader) in the US. Chomsky tends to be - how should I put this? Chomsky tends to appeal to young males of a certain age, much as Ayn Rand does, albeit a different set of youngsters. They mostly grow up and out of their youthful obsessions........

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