Saturday, March 26, 2005

Don't Hate. Appreciate.

What's up with this tendency by some conservatives to want to vilify entire countries? Folks at the National Review can't just disagree with France's leadership. No, they refer to France as Our Oldest Enemy, actually the name of a book by John J. Miller and Mark Molesky. The Review introduces an excerpt from this 304 page diatribe by noting that 2004 marked the "300th anniversary of the Deerfield Massacre, one of the worst atrocities ever committed against Americans — and, in this instance, at the hands of bloodthirsty French soldiers."

Three hundred years ago! Get over it folks. What with this and the civil war, the elephant truly never forgets does it? (I know, that metaphor's not historically accurate; I just couldn't help myself.) Recognizing the anniversary of an historical event is one thing, but what's the point here? Well, since the Editor's note is tied directly to an excerpt from a book that may as well be called "Why We Should Hate the French," the point would seem to be to vilify France.

But right-wing hatred isn't just directed at France. No, you now have an entire book aimed at villainizing Canada, too. [I saw this book advertised on a blog a few days ago and I'm trying to track it down.] And the entire March issue of The Weekly Standard is devoted to "Canada: the Great White Waste of Time." In one article, that magazine's senior editor refers to Canada "as North America's attic, a mildewy recess that adds little value to the house, but serves as an excellent dead space for stashing Nazi war criminals, drawing-room socialists, and hockey goons." He also fondly recalls friend and National Review writer Jonah Goldberg's infamous essay, entitled "Bomb Canada." That essay featured in the November 25, 2002 issue of the National Review, the cover of which depicted four Mounties astride their steeds with the word "Wimps!" emblazoned across them.

France is our enemy? Canada is our enemy?

The tendency to demonize a country and its people instead of focusing purely on its leadership or policies you disagree with is truly disturbing, primarily because it's anti-humanistic. When you lump the people of another country together that way, you elevate nationality above humanity, which seems plainly wrong-headed. I suppose some "patriots" believe that the United States ("America") is God's chosen country or something. Therefore, they may feel validated in devaluing whole segments of humanity.

Can you think of any liberal books which set out to vilify an entire country? And, more specifically, a country that is actually our ally? Of course, I guess the conservative response would be that "liberals hate America."

Hmm, both Canada and France are fairly liberal countries with very high standards of living, socialized medicine, highly organized unions, gun control, progressive attitudes towards homosexuality . . . . Could it be that some conservatives simply despise these countries because some of the principles they're fighting against seem to be working there? Of course, the fact that neither country supported Bush's foray into Iraq didn't help, but that doesn't explain the broad disdain for both countries many conservatives have cultivated.

Update: Matthew Yglesias notes that The National Review site also includes a book called Vile France, which, wow, practically includes the word vilify in it's title. The book describes France as "our bitterest enemy." France? Osama Bin Laden must be disappointed.

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