For the first time in a long time, the people of the United States finally heard someone say something nice about this country. It began with Queen Elizabeth, in the U.S. to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, speaking of the long friendship between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The queen spoke of how the two countries have undergone major social changes together: “The melting pot metaphor captures one of the great strengths of your country and is an inspiration to others around the world,” she said. Then, miracle of miracles, the newly elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, promised to “reinvigorate the ties between France and the United States.” Sarkozy vowed that the U.S. can count on French friendship in the future, especially in free market policies. Sarkozy is said to be an open admirer of the U.S., unlike former French president Jacques Chirac, who pilloried the United States day and night for waging war in Iraq.

While the comments of Queen Elizabeth and President Sarkozy were welcome and refreshing, much of Europe and the rest of the world continues with its anti-American obsession. Europe’s newspapers, magazines, and columnists portray America as immoral, irreligious, lacking culture, and – worst of all – dominated by the almighty dollar. Jean Francois Revel, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, says most people outside the U.S. see it as ruled by violence. “Everywhere you go, violence reigns, with uniquely high levels of delinquency and criminality and a feverish state of near-open revolt in the ghettos.”

Vietnam and the war in Iraq have been two principal reasons for foreigners to hate America. When the terrorist attacks against the U.S. occurred on 9/11, many residents of foreign capitals were seen cheering as the Twin Towers collapsed. Others offered champagne toasts to the murderers who flew the planes into the New York skyscrapers and the Pentagon, killing more than 3,000 Americans.

We are told that the citizens of these hostile countries don’t hate the people of the United States, but they loathe our government. But this sharply contradicts the credo of many Muslims who refer to Americans as “infidels” and call for the killing of every last American they can get their hands on – women and children included. The attacks on 9/11 that killed young and old alike are seen as justified because of the unfaltering evil deeds of the United States.

In all fairness, some of this same malice is found among our own people here at home. There is one contemptible group of Americans against the war in Iraq that sends representatives to funerals of servicemen and women who died in combat, the demonstrators holding antiwar and anti-American signs at grave side funerals. Next of kin are understandably infuriated, but are prevented by authorities from taking action because it would interfere with the demonstrators’ rights to free speech. Rights, one might add, that would be expeditiously taken away, should those we fight overseas have the upper hand.

Writing in Forbes magazine, Paul Johnson notes that Europeans, and particularly the European intelligentsia, gets much of its impression of America from Hollywood and television. “While Americans are seen as highly materialistic consumers, they are also despised and feared for their spiritual interests, their participation in religious worship and their subscription to creeds of morality,” writes Johnson. Much of the Old World’s anti-Americanism, Johnson continues, comes from “an envy of American wealth, power, success and determination. It is envy made all the more poisonous because of a fearful European conviction that America’s strength is rising while Europe’s is falling.”

So while the pro-American comments of the queen of England and France’s new president are welcome and appreciated, it won’t be long before another country or realm or region will rachet up the characterization of America as the worst collection of human beings in the history of the world. These foreign critics, indeed, critics within our own boundaries, need us as a whipping boy, the evil force responsible for their own shortcomings and failures.

America-bashing is always demoralizing, so here is an anecdote designed to end this blog with a triumphant smile: Years ago, secretary of state Dean Rusk was sent to France to meet with general Charles De Gaulle, who had just rocked NATO to the core by unilaterally withdrawing from that organization. De Gaulle told Rusk that all American troops were to be removed from France immediately. Rusk paused a moment, and then asked, “Does that include the ones buried here?”

– Chase.Hamil

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