Thursday, September 15, 2005

Have we gone blind?

In the past few days I was in Milan and I saw the translation of this article by David Frum in yesterday's Foglio (a serious and rather snobby atlanticist Italian "opinion daily"). I found this passage rather amusing:
The topic for debate: "Is the United States a superpower with feet of clay?" The program was dominated by Emmanuel Todd, a French intellectual who has made a large reputation for himself in France with lip-smacking predictions of an imminent collapse of American power.
The effect of Todd's warnings was spoiled a little by the commercials that punctuated the show. One moment there was Todd, a handsomely coiffed French writer in a splendidly tailored shirt urging the nations of the world to join together to reject American hegemony.
The next minute, a big glass of orange juice is being poured as Louis Armstrong sings "It's A Wonderful World" in English. Immediately after that, five young people chant "one, two, three, four, five" in English as they pile into a new Honda. Now it's an advertisement for ring tones for your mobile phone: a choice of the best of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, and other American rappers. Once the commercials end, it's time for the evening's movie: Rocky IV.
One of the best books I read this summer was Philippe Roger's The American Enemy, a history of French anti-Americanism. With immense scholarship and shrewd wit, Roger argues that French anti-Americanism has very seldom had very much to do with America as it exists: Indeed, many of the most celebrated of France's anti-American intellectuals have known little if anything about the United States.
They may talk about America, but they are thinking of France.
As Jean-Francois Revel says, anti-Americanism is an irrational obsession.

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