These questions may seem initially self-evident, however I think that upon further reflection, you’ll find that they’re a bit tricky to flush out. Is America the government, the people, both, neither? Is it the geographical territory between the Atlantic and the Pacific? Isn’t it actually in reference to the two continents that are ignorantly called “The New World”? Is an American someone who holds citizenship? What about the indigenous people of these continents?
The purpose of asking such questions may seem sort of rhetorical and meaningless, but it also allows us to get to a more important question: Who is “Anti-American”?
Anti-American. A charge that you can imagine I’ve heard fairly consistently over the past 8 or so years. Considering the questions I brought up above, and at the risk of sounding flippant, I regard the insult to be perfectly representative of an infantile mind sputtering out nonsensical dribble.
How am I an Anti-American? Is it because I criticize the policies of the American government? Does that disqualify my nationality? My passport is blue and my accent is as Midwestern as can be. If a German criticizes the policies of the German government does that make her an anti-German? (Coincidentally, there is a fraction of Die Linke Party that does call itself “Anti-German”, but it’s still not used as a political slur.)
What the hell does it really mean? Am I Anti-American government? Anti-American people? It’s a meaningless attack.
The real reason I think the term Anti-American gets thrown around is because The United States of America suffers from a terrible, rabid inferiority complex. American’s know, on some level, that the only government that’s stood as the bastion of European domination of this continent has been, in practice, one singular government since the American Revolution.
Unlike the average elderly person living in Leipzig, who has gone through three or four governments in her lifetime. The government doesn’t play a role in her self-identity, because she knows that governments come and go. And while they’re there, governments ought to be criticized. The Germans know that and it’s time for the Americans to learn that too.
Where this becomes incredibly pernicious is in the case of the grotesque intrusion on our privacy by the National Security Agency. Edward Snowden, someone the American public should be praising endlessly, is instead being called a traitor by many. Why are people demonizing this man? Snowden, the man who saw something despicable and revealed it, exposing some of the crimes of the government. Why are people defending the government?
But Americans, due to a societal inferiority complex, don’t want to recognize the crimes of the government, because we’ve somehow deluded ourselves into believing that their crimes are our crimes. That’s what really bothers Americans. No one actually thinks that Wikileaks or Edward Snowden is putting peoples’ lives at risk. Rather, Americans are upset because they’re identification with the government is, in effect, as central as the holy writ of the American constitution.
When discussing dictatorships throughout history, common vernacular is that people live “under” that government or regime. The people who had to live “under” Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc… It’s about time we started recognizing that, even in a supposedly democratic society, we’re living under the American government.
This is part of the process. America needs to get over it’s inferiority complex.
Until then, don’t call me an Anti-American. This is a term that is used to marginalize dissent and slander people who hold views outside of sanctioned political opinions. I’m not anti-American, I’m a matrix of the different Americas that exist. Criticizing the policies of the government is the purpose of having a “free country” after all. Therefore, I myself am someone who is deeply American, because of my political views, not in spite of them.