CARMEN NAKPIL: ANTI-AMERICANISM

MANILA, OCTOBER 2, 2003 (MALAYA) THE ANTI-ANTIS: For every action, expect an opposite reaction, in physics, politics and most everything in life. Anti-Americanism is one such object.

In our country it is best exemplified by the small, noisy, ferocious crowd that gathers regularly to protest the latest made-in-America outrage at the gates of the US embassy on Roxas Blvd. But it has had a deeper, longer existence, going as far back as Apolinario Mabini and the Filipino-American war more than a hundred years ago and to most of the native reformers and rebels since then. Everywhere else, for even longer, the US has been the designated villain by all the restless, down-trodden peoples, then in the Soviet camp during the Cold War and now among the Axis-of-Evil countries and most of Europe.

Anti-Americanism is a festering wound and now the world's body politic is undergoing a new healing, something called anti-anti-Americanism. The phenomenon is most apparent in France where it has been given a name and also its sacred texts in the form of books by intellectuals and journalists. In "The Anti-Americans" (New Yorker, Sept. 1, 2003) Adam Gopnik describes the rolling of this new politics.

First, he lays the groundwork of traditional, routine resentment of anti-Americanism, which he says tends to be "Olympian and condescending rather than vituperative" in Philip Roger's "The American Enemy." The other text is Emmanuel Todd's "After the Empire" which argues that America, starting with Clinton and 9/11, has moved from the "soft" imperialism of culture to "hard" military imperialism and "micro-theatrical military displays," but that, anyway, the US empire is "finished." It's all over and has been for years, but we are too dumb to know it, remarks Gopnik.

The current reaction in Paris is anti-anti-Americanism. It's represented, first, by Jean Francois Revel, an old liberal whose best-selling book, "The Anti-American Obssession," according to Gopnik, "is a defence of the American nation so enthusiastic that it would embarass George Washington's mother."

Bernard-Henry Levy, the French media icon of coolness, who has become a translantic celebrity, is more subtle. His sensational new book, "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" is a mystery thriller, but also "a deliberate embrace by a French intellectual of an American journalist," as well as an analysis of Al Qaeda as largely controlled by the Pakistani secret service. Levy says that the US government's assessment of the terrorist situation "is not radical enough," and that Iraq was a false and mistaken target. "Saddam," he thinks, is a "20th century butcher, an old-fashioned secular tyrant who made an easy but irrelevant target, a gangster who lived by fear and for money." America attacked "an Iraq that was already disarmed," but the real danger is Pakistan, "a country with a bomb and a new ideology, the real nexus of terrorism."

For his part, André Gluckamann, in his book, "Dostoyevsky in Manhattan," thinks that 9/11 was the result of "a new nihilism that is loose in the world." The new motto, he claims is "I kill, therefore I am," that Rwanda and Chechnya were "the intimations of Manhattan" and that the crime is to be (Jew, American or Christian) and the act is to kill. Thus anti-anti-Americans in France are seen to be defending the cosmopolitan tradition of the Marshall Plan and the melting pot, and that they "stubbornly and quixotically identify with the US."

Here at home Filipino Filipino anti-anti-Americans (they are many but are called pro-Ams or Amboys) are of an older vintage. They are publishers or columnists with ideological commitments, who devote themselves to ridiculing Filipinos who criticize US policies, denouncing them as lefties and weirdos, Stalinists or Maoists with psychotic or venal motives. But none of the local anti-antis is as sharp or elegant as their French counterparts. In a country where the establishment and the public is officially and loudly pro-American, they serve little purpose.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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