'Bomb Texas' The psychological roots of anti-Americanism

johnhall johnhall@isomedia.com
Mon, 13 Jan 2003 15:21:50 -0800


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Mr. Hanson is Shifrin Visiting Professor of Military History at the U.S.
Naval Academy and the author most recently of "An Autumn of War" (Anchor
Books). This article appeared in the December issue of Commentary
<http://commentary.org/> .
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110002900
'Bomb Texas' 
The psychological roots of anti-Americanism. 

BY VICTOR DAVIS HANSON 
Monday, January 13, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST 
With this past autumn's discussion in Washington over what to do about
Iraq there arrived also the season of protests. They were everywhere. In
the national newspapers, Common Cause published a full-page letter,
backed by "7,000 signatories," demanding (as if it had been outlawed) a
"full and open debate" before any American action against Iraq. More
radical cries emanated from Not in Our Name, a nationwide "project"
spearheaded by Noam Chomsky and affiliates, which likewise ran full-page
advertisements in the major papers decrying America's "war without
limit," organized "Days of Resistance" in New York and elsewhere, and in
general made known its feeling that the United States rather than Iraq
poses the real threat to world peace. At one late-October march in
Washington, there were signs proclaiming "I Love Iraq, Bomb Texas," and
depicting President Bush wearing a Hitler mustache and giving the Nazi
salute. 
In the dock with America was, of course, Israel: On university campuses,
demands circulated to disinvest from companies doing business with that
"apartheid state"--on the premise, one supposes, that a democratic
society with an elected government and a civilian-controlled military is
demonic in a way that an autocratic cabal sponsoring the suicide-murder
of civilians is not.
.
 
Is it because these elite Americans are so insulated and so well off,
and yet feel so troubled by it, that they are prone to embrace with
religious fervor ideas that have little connection with reality but that
promise a sense of meaning, solidarity with a select and sophisticated
group, moral accomplishment, and importance? Is it because of its very
freedom and wealth that America has become both the incubator and the
target of these most privileged, resentful, and unhappy people? And are
their perceptions susceptible of change? 
If the answer to the first two questions is yes, as I believe it is,
then the reply to the third must be: I doubt it. The necessary
correctives, after all, would have to be brutal: an economic depression,
a religious revolution, a military catastrophe or, God forbid, an end to
tenure. At least in the near term, and whether we like it or not, the
religion of anti-Americanism is as likely to grow as to fade. 
But it can also be challenged. The anti-Americans often invoke Rome as a
warning and as a model, both of our imperialism and of our foreordained
collapse. But the threats to Rome's predominance were more dreadful in
220 B.C. than in A.D. 400. The difference over six centuries, the
dissimilarity that led to the end, was a result not of imperial
overstretch on the outside but of something happening within that was
not unlike what we ourselves are now witnessing. Earlier Romans knew
what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the
alternative, and why their culture had to be defended. Later in
ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and
in consequence disappeared. 
The example of Rome, in short, is an apt one, but in a way unintended by
critics who use passing contemporary events as occasions for venting a
permanent, irrational and often visceral distrust of their own society.
Their creed is really a malady, and it cries out to be confronted and
exposed.
 

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<p><i><font size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Verdana;font-style:italic'>Mr. Hanson is <span =
class=3DSpellE>Shifrin</span>
Visiting Professor of Military History at the =
</span></font></i><st1:country-region><st1:place><i><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
  =
font-style:italic'>U.S.</span></font></i></st1:place></st1:country-region=
><i><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
font-style:italic'> </span></font></i><st1:place><st1:PlaceName><i><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
  font-style:italic'>Naval</span></font></i></st1:PlaceName><i><font =
size=3D2
 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;font-style:
 italic'> </span></font></i><st1:PlaceType><i><font size=3D2 =
face=3DVerdana><span
  =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;font-style:italic'>Academy<=
/span></font></i></st1:PlaceType></st1:place><i><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
font-style:italic'> and the author most recently of &quot;An Autumn of
War&quot; (Anchor Books). This article appeared in the December issue of =
<a
href=3D"http://commentary.org/" =
target=3D"_blank">Commentary</a>.<o:p></o:p></span></font></i></p>

<p><b><font size=3D5 color=3Dblack face=3DGaramond><span =
style=3D'font-size:18.0pt;
font-family:Garamond;font-weight:bold'><a
href=3D"http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=3D110002900">http://www.o=
pinionjournal.com/extra/?id=3D110002900</a><o:p></o:p></span></font></b><=
/p>

<p><b><font size=3D5 color=3Dblack face=3DGaramond><span =
style=3D'font-size:18.0pt;
font-family:Garamond;font-weight:bold'>'Bomb =
</span></font></b><st1:State><st1:place><span
  class=3DGramE><b><font size=3D5 face=3DGaramond><span =
style=3D'font-size:18.0pt;
  =
font-family:Garamond;font-weight:bold'>Texas</span></font></b></span></st=
1:place></st1:State><span
class=3DGramE><b><font size=3D5 face=3DGaramond><span =
style=3D'font-size:18.0pt;
font-family:Garamond;font-weight:bold'>'</span></font></b> <br>
<font size=3D4 face=3DGaramond><span =
style=3D'font-size:13.5pt;font-family:Garamond'>The</span></font></span><=
font
size=3D4 face=3DGaramond><span =
style=3D'font-size:13.5pt;font-family:Garamond'>
psychological roots of anti-Americanism.</span></font> <br>
<font size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'><br>
<b><span style=3D'font-weight:bold'>BY VICTOR DAVIS <span =
class=3DGramE>HANSON<span
style=3D'font-weight:normal'> <br>
</span></span></span></b></span></font><st1:date Month=3D"1" Day=3D"13" =
Year=3D"2003"><span
 class=3DGramE><i><span style=3D'font-style:italic'><font size=3D2 =
face=3DVerdana><span
 =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Monday</span></font></span=
></i></span><i><font
 size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
 font-style:italic'>, January 13, =
2003</span></font></i></st1:date><i><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
font-style:italic'> </span></font></i><st1:time Hour=3D"0" =
Minute=3D"1"><i><font
 size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
 font-style:italic'>12:01 a.m. EST</span></font></i></st1:time><font =
size=3D2
face=3DVerdana><span style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'> =
<o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p><font size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Verdana'>With this past autumn's discussion in =
</span></font><st1:State><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Washington</span></font></=
st1:place></st1:State><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'> over
what to do about </span></font><st1:country-region><st1:place><font =
size=3D2
  face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Iraq</span></font></st1:pl=
ace></st1:country-region><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'> there
arrived also the season of protests. They were everywhere. In the =
national
newspapers, Common Cause published a full-page letter, backed by =
&quot;7,000
signatories,&quot; demanding (as if it had been outlawed) a &quot;full =
and open
debate&quot; before any American action against =
</span></font><st1:country-region><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Iraq</span></font></st1:pl=
ace></st1:country-region><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>. More
radical cries emanated from Not in Our Name, a nationwide =
&quot;project&quot;
spearheaded by <span class=3DSpellE>Noam</span> Chomsky and affiliates, =
which
likewise ran full-page advertisements in the major papers decrying =
America's
&quot;war without limit,&quot; organized &quot;Days of Resistance&quot; =
in New
York and elsewhere, and in general made known its feeling that the =
United States
rather than Iraq poses the real threat to world peace. At one =
late-October
march in </span></font><st1:State><st1:place><font size=3D2 =
face=3DVerdana><span
  =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Washington</span></font></=
st1:place></st1:State><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>, there
were signs proclaiming &quot;I Love =
</span></font><st1:country-region><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Iraq</span></font></st1:pl=
ace></st1:country-region><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>, Bomb =
</span></font><st1:State><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Texas</span></font></st1:p=
lace></st1:State><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>,&quot;
and depicting President Bush wearing a Hitler mustache and giving the =
Nazi
salute. <o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p><font size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Verdana'>In the dock with =
</span></font><st1:country-region><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>America</span></font></st1=
:place></st1:country-region><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'> was, of
course, </span></font><st1:country-region><st1:place><font size=3D2 =
face=3DVerdana><span
  =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>Israel</span></font></st1:=
place></st1:country-region><font
size=3D2 face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>: On
university campuses, demands circulated to disinvest from companies =
doing
business with that &quot;apartheid state&quot;--on the premise, one =
supposes,
that a democratic society with an elected government and a =
civilian-controlled
military is demonic in a way that an autocratic cabal sponsoring the
suicide-murder of civilians is not.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><font size=3D3 face=3D"Times New Roman"><span =
style=3D'font-size:
12.0pt'>&#8230;<o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><font size=3D3 face=3D"Times New Roman"><span =
style=3D'font-size:
12.0pt'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><font size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;color:black'>Is it because =
these
elite Americans are so insulated and so well off, and yet feel so =
troubled by it,
that they are prone to embrace with religious fervor ideas that have =
little
connection with reality but that promise a sense of meaning, solidarity =
with a
select and sophisticated group, moral accomplishment, and importance? Is =
it
because of its very freedom and wealth that =
</span></font><st1:country-region><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:
  =
Verdana;color:black'>America</span></font></st1:place></st1:country-regio=
n><font
size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
color:black'> has become both the incubator and the target of these most
privileged, resentful, and unhappy people? And are their perceptions
susceptible of change? <o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto'><font
size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
color:black'>If the answer to the first two questions is yes, as I =
believe it
is, then the reply to the third must be: I doubt it. The necessary =
correctives,
after all, would have to be brutal: an economic depression, a religious
revolution, a military catastrophe or, God forbid, an end to tenure. At =
least
in the near <span class=3DGramE>term,</span> and whether we like it or =
not, the
religion of anti-Americanism is as likely to grow as to fade. =
<o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto'><font
size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
color:black'>But it can also be challenged. The anti-Americans often =
invoke </span></font><st1:City><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:
  Verdana;color:black'>Rome</span></font></st1:place></st1:City><font =
size=3D2
color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
color:black'> as a warning and as a model, both of our imperialism and =
of our
foreordained collapse. But the threats to =
</span></font><st1:City><st1:place><font
  size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:
  Verdana;color:black'>Rome</span></font></st1:place></st1:City><font =
size=3D2
color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
color:black'>'s predominance were more dreadful in 220 B.C. than in A.D. =
400.
The difference over six centuries, the dissimilarity that led to the =
end, was a
result not of imperial overstretch on the outside but of something =
happening
within that was not unlike what we ourselves are now witnessing. Earlier =
Romans
knew what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the =
alternative,
and why their culture had to be defended. Later in ignorance they forgot =
what
they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence =
disappeared. <o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto'><font
size=3D2 color=3Dblack face=3DVerdana><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Verdana;
color:black'>The example of Rome, in short, is an apt one, but in a way
unintended by critics who use passing contemporary events as occasions =
for
venting a permanent, irrational and often visceral distrust of their own
society. Their creed is really a malady, and it cries out to be =
confronted and
exposed.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><font size=3D3 face=3D"Times New Roman"><span =
style=3D'font-size:
12.0pt'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></font></p>

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