I’ve been having this discussion with American friends for a while. Is the current wave of anti-Americanism in Europe really about a critique of the influence of the US in the world or is it a cultural anti-Americanism?
An interesting essay on this topic from Dominic Hilton looks at what the latter consists of:
In essence, what we are witnessing is a pseudo-rejection of the USA. All this “I hate America as much as you hate America!” baloney is a cultural phenomenon, little to do with any meaningful or cultivated sense of “politics”. Across Europe, gigantic music stores stuffed to the gunwales with American pop, rock and urban do a sideline in hipster books. Virtually without exception these dazzling paperback digests are rabidly anti-American (Why do we hate America? ), anti-Bush/anti-American (The Bush-haters’ handbook), anti-globalisation/anti-American (American Dream/Global Nightmare), anti-American culture/anti-American (Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World).
For the most part adorned with colourful depictions of the universally attractive symbols of Americana, the covers tell a story of their own: as beacon or pariah, America sells. Here lies the reading choice of today’s youth, of societies most cool, and these cash-in volumes are horribly high in the sales charts. It’s not just the dreadlocked, nose-ringed student-acolytes who pack the theatres to hear the nasal drone of the world’s Noam Chomskys, it’s the kids who lap up American culture, obese and spotty from a diet of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, baggily clad in Nike, Gap and Levi’s, plugged into their iPods digitally replete with Eminem or 50 Cent. These are the kids whose street cred relies on their miserable detestation of the shallow, candied, military behemoth that is the USA.
Unlike back in ‘68, “I hate America” is now “organised”. Not organised in the leftist sense, I mean organised in the Ben and Jerry’s sense. Attractively-packaged, nice tasting, creamy, chocolaty, cookie-dough anti-Americanism that clogs the arteries and numbs the brain.