America, the world's first and only 'hyper power' has been the focal point of media and critical attention for a number of years. However since the events of September the 11 th 2001 - now the universally dubbed "9/11" - America has been an even greater subject of criticism. This criticism towards America and Americans in general has been brought to great public attention mainly through the outburst of such writers as Nam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Naomi Klein, but what initiates this hatred, and what exactly do people hate when they hate "America"? The answer is to be found in America itself. It is present in its cultures, its global portrayal of itself to the world and the way in which it conducts its international policies. Before we look at how America portrays itself to the world, we must investigate how the rest of the world is portrayed to America, and how America and Americans believe the rest of the world operates.
After the events of 9/11 it became apparent that Americans viewed the world collectively, with one woman appearing outside the Twin Towers shortly after the attacks, asking. "Why do they hate us?" This perfectly conveys the general view Americans seem to possess of the rest of the world: that it is to be viewed as one large country, governed by the likes of the WTO, IMF, World Bank, NAFTA and multinational corporations. These organisations believe whatever benefits one country in the world will benefit the world as a whole. Therefore free trade devised by the WTO and NAFTA and loans from the IMF, should, under this ideal benefit everyone. However, what these World 'governors' believe is not the case.
Free trade undermines local authority and destroys representative democracy. Loans from the IMF force developing countries to resort to cash crop farming and conform to their Structural Adjustment Policies. So the phrase can be reworded to: Whatever benefits America will benefit the world. These organisations use this belief to better the economic and social standards of US citizens, the economic standing of the country and the financial situations of their C.
E. O's personal bank accounts. This vast generalisation of the world also undoubtedly leads to generalisation of cultures, for instance, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Islamic people everywhere are viewed to be Religious Fundamentalists, or terrorists. The media is extraordinarily selective on this subject and it seems that recently, there is not one single terrorist activity reported on without a mention of possible al-Qa " ida or Islamic Fundamentalist links.
For instance, Samuel Huntington, states in his right-wing book "The Clash of Civilization And the Remaking of World Order."The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." This is a vast and atrocious generalisation of an entire culture. In some cases Islamic fundamentalism has been rightfully compared to the KKK, an organisation whose presence is not needed and is certainly not welcome by the religion it is connected with. With this collective view of the world you cannot but empathize with those who feel contempt towards America's dealings with the world, but how does America have the audacity to conduct itself in such ways? Violence is a backbone of American culture; America was founded on the gun, with the American Constitution giving every citizen the right to own one. This is buried deep in the country's side and is extremely visible in the world today, with the feeling after the atrocities on September 11 th being one of "An eye for an eye." The best analogies for American violence come possibly from America's own Hollywood.
The film "The Matrix" is a perfect illustration of this requirement for violence as a solution to everything. In "The Matrix", Morpheus is captured by the 'agents' who impose order within the Matrix. On discovering this, Neo and Trinity decide to save him, but instead of thinking the matter through thoroughly beforehand and perhaps negotiating their way out of it, they decide violence is a much more valuable solution. "Guns, lots of guns." This is an extremely compelling comparison to the American way; use violence to overcome the 'axis of evil', and this 'evil' is present in all American violence. The American government constantly makes use of the image of America being 'good', 'almighty' and 'right' and whomever they are against as 'nihilists', 'morally bankrupt' and 'idiots'. This good guy vs.
bad guy routine was present in Vietnam where Johnson's government mercilessly carpet-bombed 3 million innocent civilians - in the latterly named bomb-o-grams - claiming that it was necessary and the 'price you have to pay'. However this was not just a one off, America has been the cause of innocent deaths in hundreds of cases, with 1862 being the only year since America was founded being the only year America has not invaded a country. In Indonesia in 1965 a CIA-assisted mission killed millions, and Afghanistan being the most recent case, where American bombs were dropped on hospitals and civilian structures. These victims in Afghanistan would most likely have had no links with al-Qa " ida and most probably would have not been supportive of the Taliban government.
Because of this compulsive need by the US to use violence to solve everything it is no wonder that Islamic fundamentalists, other terrorist organisations and anti-Americans in general feel that America is a bane to the world. The sheer complacency that America possesses to intervene in any situation with their military might - which is capable of crushing any possible opposing power - is so high that of course hatred is initiated towards America. The fact that America is in control of the world's largest military force brings us neatly onto another valid reason for hatred of America being initiated and escalating - hypocrisy. America is possibly the most hypocritical state in this world and there are hundreds examples of this. The Bush administration constantly declares that it is under threat from "rogue" terrorist groups, however, the US has the largest military might in the world.
Their military power is two and a half times as large as the nine next largest states' military forces combined. These countries include Russia, China, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Cuba. It could easily hold off attacks from all of these states simultaneously and yet it is worried about small terrorist groups who have, comparatively, no military might at all. America has also banned construction of all Nuclear and Biological weaponry (WMD); America has the world's largest stockpiles of Nuclear and biological weapons; America's own scientists developed Anthrax and to this day are still developing new, deadlier, more powerful biological weaponry. Already the hypocrisy of the United States is a frightening story, it has practically banned the world from being allowed weapons and yet it has much more military power than any other state. To anyone outside the United States this says two things, that the US is out for control of the world through military prowess or that, as their military might grows, so does their paranoia.
The US also demands, very clearly, that no other country should interfere with their elections or any other democratic country's elections - mainly through the use of funding political parties which could aid the outcome to favour the donor - however it interferes with countless other countries' elections, determining the outcome to benefit themselves. The American government influenced Italy's elections from 1948-1970; they influenced Japan's from 1958 right through to the 1970's; the Australian's from 1974-5; the Russian elections in 1996 and the Bosnian elections in 1998. As a consequence of this hypocrisy, people are bound to start to feel resentment towards the US, especially if you are politically aware and have lived in a country whose elections have been intervened with by America or you have been at the brunt of American violence. Possibly one of the biggest reasons however, for the rising feeling of resentment towards America is the growth of "Franchising America." The growth of popular and youth culture, music, videos, computers, fast food, all contribute to the rising hatred felt of America. To put it bluntly, the growth in popular American culture is killing out traditions throughout the globe.
Traditional meals, such as pork and sausage in Germany and Austria are being phased out in place of fast food style hamburgers. It is slightly ironic to think that the country - from which the knowledge came from that most fast food companies have - is being sold its own food back to itself, mass produced and with thousands of additives. McDonald's, one of the major examples of these corporation restaurants, its slogan stating "Over 1 billion served worldwide", opened a store in Kuwait in 1994 with over 15000 attendants present at the opening. In addition to this, McDonald restaurants have been constructed at the Great Pyramids of Egypt, a national treasure to Egypt and world famous heritage site. However it does not stop at the ousting of traditional foodstuffs by American corporations: jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps. The want to look American is replacing traditional clothing across the globe, and "cool" has spread throughout the world with enormous appeal and it is no surprise that the medium of television is the most likely source of the blame.
With SKY being broadcast to most countries in the world, youth cultures everywhere are victim to American sitcoms, documentaries, music shows, youth shows and more. "Saved by the Bell", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", MTV; all of these advertise America as a nation of "cool" people: dressed in stylish clothes; eating fast food; all of them owners and protectors of their own freedom and lifestyle. If this is the message that America is going to broadcast to the world then no wonder youth cultures everywhere are attracted to them and no wonder this initiates hatred. Traditions must be carried on and require the next generation to believe in them and to carry them out as fully as the preceding generation. If America is 'recruiting' the young generations worldwide then these generations will not believe in their traditional heritages and believe more fully in a "cool" society. In this case it is understandable that the generations above these will experience anger towards America as a result of their children and grandchildren disowning their cultures.
There is obviously not one solid reason for the escalating anger, annoyance, hatred and consequently violence that is being directed towards America. There are many reasons and they are extremely varied in their nature. However, it must be taken into account that hating America is in itself slightly hypocritical, America views the world collectively, and to hate America because of that is in itself a generalisation. So the question becomes, "What do people hate when they hate America?" The answer must be "America", not the people of America for there are many American citizens opposed to the policies of the Bush administration. It cannot be the "freedoms and liberties" that al-Qa " ida and terrorist organisations apparently hate and envy, but it must be "America", a set of ideals and philosophies. These being policies, which undermine the general population, they are selfish and ill conceived and as a result, affect people in the harshest of ways.
Bibliography Arda r, Ziauddin and Davies, Merry Wyn. Why Do People Hate America? (Icon Books Ltd 2002) Huntington, Samuel. The Clash of Civilization. (Foreign Affairs 72 (3) 1993) Wachowski, Larry and Wachowski, Andy.
The Matrix (Warner Bros. 1999) McDonalds Fast Food Restaurant. web > (2002) Grossman, Zoltan. web > (20/09/01).