: There has been much discussion, many attacks, and many links and comments around the post below on my defense of Americans in the face of attacks.
And so I want to bring this up to the top of the heap, I want to be loud and I want to be clear, and so I will repeat what I say below:
Pardon me, but I’m going to take a very dangerous and contrarian and by some views shrill, right-wing, illiberal stance and I’ll take your barbs and the Guardian’s with pride:
Let me say that again, because I am one and because I was attacked and damned near killed because I am one (and yes, that matters):
I am pro-American.
What a shocking statement, eh?
Well, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have said that so readily 30 years ago. But when people attack my countrymen so readily, as if it is the accepted wisdom of the age, I have no choice but to defend myself, my countrymen, my country’s ideals, and the only heritage I know.
I’ve had it with America-bashing and American-bashing.
So let me say it one more time just for the grandstanding shock value of it:
: Let me add this: I don’t make my point about September 11th lightly or for the sake of rhetorical oneupsmanship. I make the point because it needs to be made:
Anti-anybody is dangerous.
Anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust.
Muslims attacked us but we are not allowed to be anti-Muslim — nor should we be. That would be a ridiculous, offensive, unproductive, dangerous generalization. Right?
Yet anti-American is suddenly OK. And to go after those who are anti-American is suddenly “right-wing” or “illiberal” or “shrill” or “extremist.”
I’ve had my fill of that attitude. It is dangerous — tangibly dangerous.
Let’s be very clear: Just as anti-Semitism led directly to the Holocaust, anti-Americanism led directly to September 11th.
Demonizing the people of this country made it acceptable to some and a goal for some to see fanatics murder thousands of us, just as demonizing Jews made it acceptable for fanatics to murder millions of them.
I’m not making a politically correct argument. You can criticize any policy or action of this country or of Israel and you’re not by any means anti-American or anti-Semitic.
But once you generalize — as the two American writers in question did do — and start calling all Americans stupid and ignorant — Moore’s charges — and amoral — the Newsweek guy’s assertion — you only play into the blind and finally murderous hatred of armed anti-Americans like the ones who came within a few hundred yards of killing me on September 11th.
This is a very serious point. It’s not a troll for traffic. It’s not a politically correct screed. It’s not a pathetic pitch for sympathy. (I’ll beat you to all your own punches.)
It is a warning:
Keep attacking America and Americans — not just American policy — and beware of the hands into which you play.
That is why I will defend us as a people against attacks such as the ones cited in this discussion. That is why I will, more positively, repeat:
I am pro-American.
: And beware what you are doing to the state of democracy and human rights in the world. Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds quoted David Aaronovitch’s piece in the Observer (and yes, I do admire its sibling the Guardian greatly for printing both sides of an argument more than any other publication I know — it is the closest thing to the blogosphere that exists anywhere in print). I will quote other parts about what happens when you attack Americans:
There is, I think, a widely shared fantasy which you might call the No-America Dream. In this happy place we have somehow done away with the economic and military superpower. We watch sophisticated French films or Ealing studio reruns, our thin citizens dine out on organic Brie, there is no Israel to over-excite the populations of the Middle East, and everyone signs up to stop climate change. If only the Yanks would go home. If only we could stop Bush.
The degree to which America is held uniquely responsible for the sins of the world is remarkable….
The slogan ‘Yanks Go Home’ has always had more potency than, say, ‘Romanian murderer go home’. And the danger has always been the same – that the protesters might get the thing they asked for. The fact is that many in the States harbour the same dream; but for them it is the dream of isolation. In an election year, when the sitting President is involved in a costly foreign exercise, the cries of the opposition tend not to be for more involvement but for far less. And for higher steel tariffs….
[The 1990s] They started as the decade of failed intervention, and progressed as the decade of non-intervention. The retreat after Somalia in 1993 showed us that the dream of no-America was a nightmare: Bosnia, Rwanda, the failure of Oslo, Milosevic rampant, bin Laden gathering strength….
I don’t want the Americans to go home. In fact I am terrified of what would happen if they did. Their going home in the past has often meant suffering for others….
Beware what you wish for and against when you attack Americans. Beware those who may join you in attacking us. Beware what happens to the rest of the world when we say, fine, we will retreat into our well-appointed shell. This isn’t about sport and fun. This is about responsibility. If you attack me and my neighbors, you must take the full responsibility for it. And I will call you on that.
I am pro-American.
: UPDATE: Harry and I may be sparring over words but it’s clear that we agree on substance. Here is his reaction to Aaronovitch’s essay in anticipation of George Bush’s visit to Britain:
The real enemy is this fascism, not George Bush. In fact, hard as it may be for some to stomach, Bush has been at the forefront of the fight against the fascism of our age.
Those who march against Bush next week should think what message their protests send to those in the frontline of the fight against modern fascism around the world. But they won’t.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves, these protestors who oppose Starbucks but not death squads, don’t care about fascism anymore and they don’t care about international solidarity.
And they have the cheek to accuse the pro-war left of abandoning our principles.