Of course, when I wrote a post about how my students thought that Europe was invaded in year 711 by the United States, everybody laughed. Ha, ha, how ignorant of them. I now entertain people at parties with this story, and everybody is always in stitches. It’s funny, though, how often the very people who find this anecdote to be hilarious are guilty of the same kind of attitude.
To give you an example, look at the following post that makes a very convoluted argument trying to persuade the readers that if a fringe extremist militia in Somalia is not letting humanitarian aid to the starving, it must be the Americans’ fault. And also that the rise of the Khmer Rouge is the Americans’ fault:
The hostility of al-Shabaab to western aid is in all the media reports on the famine. It plays easily into stereotypes of senseless and cruel violence in obscure African conflicts. But what is often omitted is any explanation of why al-Shabaab are so hostile to westerners – one honourable exception is the US journalist Jeremy Scahill, who uncovered CIA sites in Mogadishu. His reports trace how al-Shabaab’s suspicion is rooted in the experience of a decade of devious US manipulation. Somalia has been the war on terror’s sideshow – and I choose the word deliberately: think of Cambodia and its bombing by the US during the Vietnam war.
The United States created the conditions for the starvation in Somalia, just as its illegal bombing raids in Cambodia led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge.
Let’s leave aside the clumsy turn of phrase about the “illegal bombing raids” (as if there were such a thing as legally bombing anybody) for the moment and consider the following. Both the author of the article and the blogger who quoted it must surely think of themselves as extremely progressive. Their constant public self-flagellation over the sins of their fellow Americans manages to conceal from them, however, how obnoxious this “nobody-in-the-world-can-as-much-as-fart-without-us” attitude is.
When I was an undergrad, I was once telling a classmate about the Holodomor, the organized famine in Ukraine that claimed the lives of millions of people in 1931.
“This is horrible!” my compassionate classmate exclaimed. “You know, I often feel ashamed of being an American.”
“Why are you ashamed about this?” I asked her.
“Well, look what we did to your people,” she explained.
Obviously, the idea that the Ukrainians could have suffered at the hands of anybody other than the Americans didn’t even occur to her. When I told her what really happened, she kind of lost interest in the entire story. Who cares about a famine or a genocide when they offer no excuse to indulge in the ever so sweet process of self-castigation?
It is undeniable that the United States have been in the habit of invading other countries and interfering with other nations’ business for a very long time now. However, things are never as simple as peaceful, nice barbarians living among flowers in the state of eternal innocence and then the bad, mean and horrible United States invading this paradise and destroying it with its presence.
The US manipulates and bullies governments of other countries. There are also always forces withing those other countries that manipulate the US and use them for their purposes. If your Liberal heart can’t take the idea of anybody manipulating the all-powerful US, then you’ve got to ask yourself about how Liberal you really are. If you are emotionally attached to the idea of humongously powerful, all-conquering United States (whether to praise it or criticize it), that’s a sign that you’ve been infected by the disease of unthinking, blind patriotism.
So let me tell you, people: ultimately, the vector of your patriotism is not all that important. Whether you think the US is the origin of every great thing that has happened to this planet or that it is the source of every evil, you are still proceeding from a profound contempt for every other culture under the sun. If you look at an event taking place on another continent, and the first thing that occurs to you is to look at how the US might have caused it, you are a fanatical patriot whose disrespect for other cultures is nothing but annoying.