Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America’s God.
The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn’t join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who’ve forgotten the tune.
The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America’s God.
? Harold Pinter, January 2003
Now, polemical poetry is supposed to be….polemical. And Harold Pinter can have whatever opinions he wants. But why does the Guardian print drivel like this?
In my earlier post about anti-Americanism I mentioned that the people I socialized with never seemed especially anti-American (although they were alarmed about the election of George Bush). But what I didn’t mention was who those people were: mostly sales, admin assistants, and tech support folks. In other words, fairly ordinary middle class Europeans from a variety of countries.
Needless to say, these are not the people who write the op-ed pages of European newspapers. In fact, many of the most extreme opinion pieces are written by academics and intellectuals, who combine university leftiness with a genuine distaste for American culture that more often than not ends up sounding like Pinter’s poem. And that’s what we see over here.
So while it’s fair to point to op-ed articles and journal papers as examples of anti-Americanism, I’d still urge caution, especially among conservative American academics who probably already feel rather besieged on their own campuses. In the same way that you can become hyper-sensitized to academic liberalism if you have to breathe it every day, you can become convinced that anti-Americanism is more widespread than it is if you spend too much time reading European intellectuals.
Nobody would suggest that American universities reflect the political views of average Americans. The same is true in Europe.