The assumption in this thinking was, of course, that millions of British people would need to see an ornate backdrop to make that connection. Without the hint, G.W. could barely leave his temporary residence of Buckingham Palace without being assailed by angry Brits anxious to let the U.S. president know just how unwelcome he was in their country.

It is estimated that 200,000 protestors demonstrated against Bush’s visit to the U.K. On Nov. 20., a march that wound through the streets of central London ended in Trafalgar Square where an 18 foot papier mache statue of George W. was toppled, mocking the fall of Saddam Hussein’s effigy in Baghdad. Suffice to say, the presence of 200,000 demonstrators at a mid-week protest is historic. But even these numbers pale in comparison to those of Feb. 15 which saw about 1.5 million take to the streets of London to oppose the military invasion of Iraq. On that same day, millions more in cities and towns around the world took part in similar protests.

Fueling these massive outpourings of ordinary people has been a very real anger for the United States by millions internationally. Obviously, if England is our closest ally and our president can’t even move around its capital without having the city practically shut down for security concerns, the question must be asked: why the hell are people around the world so pissed off at the United States?

In the popular press, you will generally find two explanations for this upward trend in American persecution. They are that 1.) people internationally are simply anti-American – full of hatred and jealousy because our country is free, powerful, and preeminent; and that 2.) people are angry because the U.S. initiated a war without the backing of the United Nations. This stems from a misunderstanding that ‘in a post 9/11 world’ the U.S. needs to do what it must in order to protect the security of its citizens.

The first answer – that outside our borders there lurks a deep and dark anti-American sentiment – has even been used by Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary for Tony Blair’s government, in his justifications for the Prime Minister’s support for Bush’s policies ad nauseam. It is also completely fallacious, being pathetically analogous to something Rush Limbaugh would say about how jealousy drives the commoners to hate the wealthy.

There is a grave misunderstanding amongst most Americans (and apparently non-Americans when it suits their interests) about how the people of the world feel about them. Anyone who travels abroad should be able to say with confidence that the citizens of the world, including the French, do not hate Americans. They do hate, however, the ignorance of cultural chauvinism – something that Americans have turned into an art form. Of course, there are extremists out there who view all citizens of the United States as the enemy, but the number of these unfortunate individuals is so infinitesimally small that to diagnose a good deal of the outside world with a Napoleon Complex is simply foolish. If more than ten percent of the U.S. population owned a passport and the U.S. government actually did something to promote cultural exchange other than starting wars, this reality might be better grasped.

The second answer – that the world doesn’t understand the tragedy of 9/11 and that America has the right to act preemptively to protect its citizens – is equally nonsense. Other than the ‘war on terror’ being the B-Team’s attempt to secure an ideological substitute for the red menace, this explanation for the strong international opposition to Washington fails in many regards. Firstly, for many people in the world, the fear and insecurity that Americans experienced on 9/11 is a daily occurrence (see Liberia, Congo, Colombia, Palestine, Israel). Secondly, the case that Iraq had anything to due with 9/11 or represented an imminent threat to United States citizens was not made before the war and has not been made to date. Thirdly, the unilateralism of Iraq is only the latest and most visible example of American policymakers’ unwillingness to participate in international accords and agreements. Aside from Bush’s foray into Babylon, there is an entire litany of charges that can be made against United States arrogance over the past ten years including its refusal to adopt the Kyoto Protocol or take part in the International Criminal Courts; its callousness and insensitivity in dealing with the most important question in the Arab world – the Palestinian/Israeli conflict; and its hypocritical policies on nuclear non-proliferation and international trade.

The Bush administration’s feigned attempt to involve the U.N. in the invasion of Iraq has presented itself only as American policymakers’ most recent and flagrant violation of international diplomacy. For this reason, it has engendered the most disgust and has given the international community a giant stage on which to display its growing discontent with American unilateralism.

Neither smug appeals to international envy and hatred nor pompous proclamations of uniqueness can account for the wave of hostility that Mr. Bush has encountered in his journeys to foreign lands. The true reasons why much of the world is angry with the United States is not because they are anti-American nor because they don’t understand 9/11. It’s precisely because they see our country’s policies for what they are and they’re not afraid to say it.

Here at home, things are different. Polemics are taboo, strong beliefs are discouraged, and the fear that has been whipped up around the new ‘evil-doers’ of the world has created such a strong atmosphere of self-censorship that the majority of Americans are simply too afraid to express a viewpoint that might contradict the torrent of insecurity flashing across their television screens nightly – from Fox News to 24. How else could an administration convince the American people to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a war abroad while some 43 million Americans don’t have health care at home?

Americans revel in over-abundant, easily-digestible, trite news sources. News sources too conservative or too pusillanimous to call our esteemed-at-home president, George W. Bush for what he is – a mendacious imperialist. This is a claim that even so-called ‘liberal’ Americans are afraid to make fearing the connotations of Marxist extremism that get dredged up every time someone forgets to put the ‘middle’ in front of ‘class’ when speaking about politics. But it’s a claim that the rest of the world has been making for some time because of its validity.

Certainly, many residents here wouldn’t agree with this assessment, opting for the popular and commercial patriotism of denial. I will not argue the point – there’s a good deal of Americans that still don’t believe in evolution. But if invading a sovereign nation militarily, toppling its government, occupying it, and then attempting to rebuild that nation based on your own social institutions with no other believable pretext but to serve the economic and political interests of your country’s wealthiest citizens; if that ain’t imperialism, then the murder of millions of Native Americans during U.S. westward expansion wasn’t genocide. And the Holocaust never happened. And slavery wasn’t that bad. And Jesus was a white man.

The American people should be less concerned with the rhetorical liberation of the Middle East and more concerned with liberating themselves from this intellectual prison of denial. In other words, we should take a page out of the book of our European brethren and the international community when they question the intentions of global power brokers.

While studying in the U.K. this past year, I was exposed to a climate of debate and discourse unlike anything we have here in the United States. On any day in London, at least six different newspapers expressing a wide spectrum of political perspectives were available. Evening television journalists actually had the nerve to ask challenging questions to those whom they interviewed. Members of Parliament routinely disagreed with their Prime Minister while appearing at public demonstrations. Students weren’t afraid to protest the war by walking out of class or occupying administration buildings. The city buses were plentiful and on time. People read books.

Upon returning to the United States, two things became immediately obvious. The first was how overweight Americans really are. The second was the media circus that envelops everything here from a shitty little hurricane to Monday Night Football. In this kind of surreal atmosphere, it’s little wonder how politics can be reduced to the Simpsonesque farce of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jimmy Griffin.

Americans need to wake up and come to terms with the responsibility that they have as global citizens. This means standing up to the corporate Thought Police of fear and shedding our culturally insular complacency. It means paying attention to what the world is saying instead of playing the role of the persecuted. Like the Londoners that took to the streets a few weeks back, and the millions more that have been demonstrating worldwide, we Americans need to get our act together and begin to question the direction in which we are heading as a country and a planet. If we do not, choosing instead to continue along the path currently being blazed by Washington, then only ignorance and war will be our collective future.












What was glaringly ironic about this affair was that our commander-in-chief, being the stoic crusader for freedom and justice that he is, chose to deliver a speech about democracy, not at the institution that actually represents this ideal in the U.K., i.e., The House of Commons, but rather from the pulpit of a palace that surely rivals anything Saddam Hussein may have occupied during his brutally lavish presidency. The elitism of the event, however, did not go unnoticed by some White House officials who decided to change the backdrop of the speech from the ornate and grandiose design of the Banqueting Hall to one that simply had ‘United Kingdom’ written over and over on it. In this way, any parallels that might have been drawn by television viewers between Mr. Bush’s current foreign policy and Britain’s Victorian Imperialist past could be conveniently avoided.

The assumption in this thinking was, of course, that millions of British people would need to see an ornate backdrop to make that connection. Without the hint, G.W. could barely leave his temporary residence of Buckingham Palace without being assailed by angry Brits anxious to let the U.S. president know just how unwelcome he was in their country.

It is estimated that 200,000 protestors demonstrated against Bush’s visit to the U.K. On Nov. 20., a march that wound through the streets of central London ended in Trafalgar Square where an 18 foot papier mache statue of George W. was toppled, mocking the fall of Saddam Hussein’s effigy in Baghdad. Suffice to say, the presence of 200,000 demonstrators at a mid-week protest is historic. But even these numbers pale in comparison to those of Feb. 15 which saw about 1.5 million take to the streets of London to oppose the military invasion of Iraq. On that same day, millions more in cities and towns around the world took part in similar protests.

Fueling these massive outpourings of ordinary people has been a very real anger for the United States by millions internationally. Obviously, if England is our closest ally and our president can’t even move around its capital without having the city practically shut down for security concerns, the question must be asked: why the hell are people around the world so pissed off at the United States?

In the popular press, you will generally find two explanations for this upward trend in American persecution. They are that 1.) people internationally are simply anti-American – full of hatred and jealousy because our country is free, powerful, and preeminent; and that 2.) people are angry because the U.S. initiated a war without the backing of the United Nations. This stems from a misunderstanding that ‘in a post 9/11 world’ the U.S. needs to do what it must in order to protect the security of its citizens.

The first answer – that outside our borders there lurks a deep and dark anti-American sentiment – has even been used by Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary for Tony Blair’s government, in his justifications for the Prime Minister’s support for Bush’s policies ad nauseam. It is also completely fallacious, being pathetically analogous to something Rush Limbaugh would say about how jealousy drives the commoners to hate the wealthy.

There is a grave misunderstanding amongst most Americans (and apparently non-Americans when it suits their interests) about how the people of the world feel about them. Anyone who travels abroad should be able to say with confidence that the citizens of the world, including the French, do not hate Americans. They do hate, however, the ignorance of cultural chauvinism – something that Americans have turned into an art form. Of course, there are extremists out there who view all citizens of the United States as the enemy, but the number of these unfortunate individuals is so infinitesimally small that to diagnose a good deal of the outside world with a Napoleon Complex is simply foolish. If more than ten percent of the U.S. population owned a passport and the U.S. government actually did something to promote cultural exchange other than starting wars, this reality might be better grasped.

The second answer – that the world doesn’t understand the tragedy of 9/11 and that America has the right to act preemptively to protect its citizens – is equally nonsense. Other than the ‘war on terror’ being the B-Team’s attempt to secure an ideological substitute for the red menace, this explanation for the strong international opposition to Washington fails in many regards. Firstly, for many people in the world, the fear and insecurity that Americans experienced on 9/11 is a daily occurrence (see Liberia, Congo, Colombia, Palestine, Israel). Secondly, the case that Iraq had anything to due with 9/11 or represented an imminent threat to United States citizens was not made before the war and has not been made to date. Thirdly, the unilateralism of Iraq is only the latest and most visible example of American policymakers’ unwillingness to participate in international accords and agreements. Aside from Bush’s foray into Babylon, there is an entire litany of charges that can be made against United States arrogance over the past ten years including its refusal to adopt the Kyoto Protocol or take part in the International Criminal Courts; its callousness and insensitivity in dealing with the most important question in the Arab world – the Palestinian/Israeli conflict; and its hypocritical policies on nuclear non-proliferation and international trade.

The Bush administration’s feigned attempt to involve the U.N. in the invasion of Iraq has presented itself only as American policymakers’ most recent and flagrant violation of international diplomacy. For this reason, it has engendered the most disgust and has given the international community a giant stage on which to display its growing discontent with American unilateralism.

Neither smug appeals to international envy and hatred nor pompous proclamations of uniqueness can account for the wave of hostility that Mr. Bush has encountered in his journeys to foreign lands. The true reasons why much of the world is angry with the United States is not because they are anti-American nor because they don’t understand 9/11. It’s precisely because they see our country’s policies for what they are and they’re not afraid to say it.

Here at home, things are different. Polemics are taboo, strong beliefs are discouraged, and the fear that has been whipped up around the new ‘evil-doers’ of the world has created such a strong atmosphere of self-censorship that the majority of Americans are simply too afraid to express a viewpoint that might contradict the torrent of insecurity flashing across their television screens nightly – from Fox News to 24. How else could an administration convince the American people to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a war abroad while some 43 million Americans don’t have health care at home?

Americans revel in over-abundant, easily-digestible, trite news sources. News sources too conservative or too pusillanimous to call our esteemed-at-home president, George W. Bush for what he is – a mendacious imperialist. This is a claim that even so-called ‘liberal’ Americans are afraid to make fearing the connotations of Marxist extremism that get dredged up every time someone forgets to put the ‘middle’ in front of ‘class’ when speaking about politics. But it’s a claim that the rest of the world has been making for some time because of its validity.

Certainly, many residents here wouldn’t agree with this assessment, opting for the popular and commercial patriotism of denial. I will not argue the point – there’s a good deal of Americans that still don’t believe in evolution. But if invading a sovereign nation militarily, toppling its government, occupying it, and then attempting to rebuild that nation based on your own social institutions with no other believable pretext but to serve the economic and political interests of your country’s wealthiest citizens; if that ain’t imperialism, then the murder of millions of Native Americans during U.S. westward expansion wasn’t genocide. And the Holocaust never happened. And slavery wasn’t that bad. And Jesus was a white man.

The American people should be less concerned with the rhetorical liberation of the Middle East and more concerned with liberating themselves from this intellectual prison of denial. In other words, we should take a page out of the book of our European brethren and the international community when they question the intentions of global power brokers.

While studying in the U.K. this past year, I was exposed to a climate of debate and discourse unlike anything we have here in the United States. On any day in London, at least six different newspapers expressing a wide spectrum of political perspectives were available. Evening television journalists actually had the nerve to ask challenging questions to those whom they interviewed. Members of Parliament routinely disagreed with their Prime Minister while appearing at public demonstrations. Students weren’t afraid to protest the war by walking out of class or occupying administration buildings. The city buses were plentiful and on time. People read books.

Upon returning to the United States, two things became immediately obvious. The first was how overweight Americans really are. The second was the media circus that envelops everything here from a shitty little hurricane to Monday Night Football. In this kind of surreal atmosphere, it’s little wonder how politics can be reduced to the Simpsonesque farce of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jimmy Griffin.

Americans need to wake up and come to terms with the responsibility that they have as global citizens. This means standing up to the corporate Thought Police of fear and shedding our culturally insular complacency. It means paying attention to what the world is saying instead of playing the role of the persecuted. Like the Londoners that took to the streets a few weeks back, and the millions more that have been demonstrating worldwide, we Americans need to get our act together and begin to question the direction in which we are heading as a country and a planet. If we do not, choosing instead to continue along the path currently being blazed by Washington, then only ignorance and war will be our collective future.

By Edward Ellis

What was glaringly ironic about this affair was that our commander-in-chief, being the stoic crusader for freedom and justice that he is, chose to deliver a speech about democracy, not at the institution that actually represents this ideal in the U.K., i.e., The House of Commons, but rather from the pulpit of a palace that surely rivals anything Saddam Hussein may have occupied during his brutally lavish presidency. The elitism of the event, however, did not go unnoticed by some White House officials who decided to change the backdrop of the speech from the ornate and grandiose design of the Banqueting Hall to one that simply had ‘United Kingdom’ written over and over on it. In this way, any parallels that might have been drawn by television viewers between Mr. Bush’s current foreign policy and Britain’s Victorian Imperialist past could be conveniently avoided.