I think The Guardian’s letter writing campaign, asking people around the world to write to Americans encouraging them to vote (and, by extension, vote for Kerry) was either naive or deeply cynical. Surely they realised that it would cause an uproar? I suspect their motives were somewhat cynical, and the whole exercise is what the Internet would call “a troll” - a big troll. They clearly enjoyed printing letters from the, er, less polite people who took offence.
And now my favourite Guardian writer, Charlie Brooker, has caused an even greater uproar by joking that the world needs a presidential assassin. He’s not a serious journalist, he’s a very sharp comedy writer and sarcastic TV reviewer. He invented a joke TV series called “Cunt” for goodness sake.
Google News is packed with hundreds of articles from USA newspapers screaming about this “far left wing radical newspaper” (cue incredulous laughter from Europeans) calling for the death of the USA President. Some choice quotes: “Spewing venom”, “how our betters in Europe…”, “called for the assassination of President Bush”, “new low in mainstream media commentary”.
The American elite are still very, very touchy about European ‘culture’. There seems to be a something of a twitchy inferiority complex. In fact, I don’t think most Europeans do consider themselves superior, but they certainly don’t consider the USA to be superior, and I think that’s a large part of it. We’ve grown out of delusions of imperial grandeur.
There was a largely unfounded belief in the UK that “Americans don’t understand irony”. Well, it’s rather less unfounded now.
But the most amazing aspect of this is the sheer hysteria over “sovereignty”. How dare the jealous British interfere with American Sovereignty! Let’s compare:
Europe: A newspaper letter writing campaign and a comedian’s joke about Lee Harvey Oswald.
The United States Of America: Assassination of democratically elected leaders. Organised and supported coups. Buying almost the entire media of a country and turning it against the elected government. Forcing soveriegn nations to agree to trade terms that will destroy their economy. Using sanctions to destroy popular governments. Illegal wars against sovereign countries. Forcing through international agreements that place multinational corporations above national laws. Nicaragua anyone? Grenada?
The United States even had (has?) plans to deal with a proper socialist government being elected in the UK. Let’s summarise it by recognising that it involved a fair amount of interference.
The people around the world who don’t want Bush elected (about 85%) don’t “hate America” or “hate freedom”, “envy America’s success” or any other stupid cliche. They are profoundly disturbed by a government* that believes it has a God-given imperial power to do whatever it wants, and ruin the lives of millions at a whim. Hysterical, hypocritical wailings at comedian’s jokes doesn’t improve this.
I’m off to buy The Guardian now. Well, it’s got a free DVD.
(* “Government:” it’s not about America (very nice place) or Americans (very nice people), it’s about a bunch of rather unpleasant politicians controlling a large army, who probably weren’t even fairly elected. Bush’s government are doing terrible harm to the people of the USA.)
Extra bit: Freedom of speech?