mardi 18 décembre 2007

I feel good.

 


Children aren’t responsible for the deeds and failures of their parents, we all agree about that. And it goes for the citizens of any given country: they’re not responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. But their nation is and any citizen must take into account that he/she is an heir who represents his/her community for the best and the worse it may have committed.

No country of some historical importance can claim to be morally cleaner than its neighbour. The Germans particularly, those with the most horrendous record of the XXth century, have entirely learned the lesson and would be the last ones to pretend teaching lessons of morality to the rest of the world. The same holds true with the Russians or the Japanese, to name a few.

Yet, there’s a country with a very short history and a pretty dark amount of black spots (think slavery, Indians’ removal, wars against Mexico or the Philippines, atomic bombs on civilians, 2 million Vietnamese casualties, preventive war in Iraq) which seems to think of itself as above all others when it comes to tell the whole world how it should act and behave. 

Now, many Americans are fully aware that the USA isn’t exactly a paragon and epitome of morality on the international stage and they unjustly suffer from the bad image their country “enjoys” abroad. But another good number of Americans seem to be totally blind to the past of their Nation and, when reminded of some unpleasant facts, they dismiss them as now irrelevant because said facts purportedly belong to the past.
Which better way to make oneself feel good than to let fall in oblivion what is unbearable?

What they fail to understand is that the past still lives on for everyone and can never be obliterated. They should look no further why America often gets a lot of negative rating among peoples of the world who don’t exactly appreciate being continuously taught lessons of morality coming from a country they see exuding of sheer hypocrisy.

The ignorant and morally self-serving are responsible for that bad image that spreads also on those Americans who know and understand and unjustly carry the weight of their fellow citizen’s “feel good” consciousness.


Note: The painting is “Transfiguration” by Raphël in the Pinacoteca Vaticana of the Vatican Museum

29 commentaires:

ThanKwee-Anajo a dit…

I feel gooood!

comme disait James Brown...

Bon, okay, je laiseria um com plus érudite demain... :)

Ce soir, on fait la fête

ThanKwee-Anajo a dit…

Okay, I read what you said, Flocon, and of course you are right. J'ai lu ce que vous avais dit et vous avait raison.

Mais pour certains États-Unisiens nôtre pays est "the best country in the world" et on ne peux rien leurs dire pour changer ça... n'importe ce qu'il y a est arrivé dans le passé et n'importe ce qu'il y passe maintenant. On peux lire dire plein des choses, mais cela ne changera rien dans leurs pensées... C'est comme ça... :(

N'importe q'on peux leur dire, ils "feel good"...

ThanKwee-Anajo a dit…

We (Americans) have been raised to think that our country is the best in the world. Of course, every westernised country has a dark past... Native peoples have been wiped out by the colonialists (French, English, Americans, Dutch, etc etc)...

Are Europeans more recognisant of the results of their actions? For example, are the French ashamed of the effects of the acts of their ancestors? Or should I ask, are "all" of the French aware of what their ancestors have wrought?

I had the occasion to spend some time with a young french exchange student and she refused to believe that Napoleon was anything other than a hero.

Mustang a dit…

I suppose it is true that some Americans waste their time moralizing about trivial issues; as you pointed out, there are plenty of unsavory examples of inhumanity to go around. As I have never owned slaves, I don’t feel personally responsible for that condition in this country — even as some in the world prefer to think of that particular institution as a uniquely American disgrace. Anyone who thinks that is simply ignorant of history, and I assume prefers to remain so.

I appreciate the fact that the blogosphere provides a forum for exchanging ideas and perspectives; it is a place where no one individual’s opinion is better, or worse, than any other. But as to the issue of moralizing, I do seem to find a lot of that going on here — even with the acknowledgement that no one country can be absolved of its history. Slavery, Indian removal, civil war, post-bellum racial discrimination may be regrettable now, but they are historic events that occurred under very different times and circumstances. The problem with what I perceive as a somewhat snobbish tone here — your own brand of moralizing, if you prefer, is that along with all of the mistakes made by my American ancestors, recognize that no one is exempt from criticism. For as long as history remembers the atrocities committed by French, German, Spanish, and Belgian colonists, or by Muslim, Protestant, or Catholics zealots, or of the offenses committed by Russians upon their own people, then it is possible that no one should be throwing stones — in any direction.

Flocon a dit…

Hi Jo Ann

"are "all" of the French aware of what their ancestors have wrought?"
Of course not, you're right to ask the question.
Many people in all countries simply don't know and don't care, they're busy making a living for their family and enjoying their daily dose of "infotainment"...
But maybe it is safe to assume they are also less prone to tell right from wrong to other peoples.

The point of the post was some kind of answer to your plea the other day at SF's that we (French, Europeans, whatever) shouldn't mistake all Americans with a particular brand of moralizing ones.
I wanted to make clear that some people in your country (and we know you're one of them) suffer from the patronizing attitude they have to endure from some of their fellow citizens.

Regarding Napoleon, this is a huge can of worms you're opening here... ;-)
It is true that the French present him in a very favourable light that certainly cannot be seen with the same eyes by the British first and then the anglo-saxon world.
Maybe Mustang, as someone from the military, has some interesting take about Napoleon?

Flocon a dit…

Hi Mustang,

"As I have never owned slaves, I don’t feel personally responsible for that condition in this country — even as some in the world prefer to think of that particular institution as a uniquely American disgrace."
I fully understand your point here since I had no relative whatsoever taking part to what happened in France during the 5 year long period of Vichy and yet, how many times are the French (individuelly as well as collectivelly) held responsible for what the puppet gvt set up by the Nazis did?
All the same, you could count by the dozens (if not hundreds) my ancestors who allegedly (I suppose, i haven't the slightest clue about it) took part to the ransacking of Holand or west Germany during the wars waged by Louis XIV, 300 years ago.
I don't really feel personnally responsible for that as you can imagine...

"Slavery, Indian removal, civil war, post-bellum racial discrimination may be regrettable now, but they are historic events that occurred under very different times and circumstances."
Agree, but there are other events more recent in the "examples" I gave in the post (say since the end of WWII, 60 years ago).

"The problem with what I perceive as a somewhat snobbish tone here — your own brand of moralizing,"
Agree again. When dealing with this sort of topic, the moralizing tone is hardly avoidable. Plus, I wasn't exactly born a diplomat... ;-)
But I'm glad you get my point: Being steadily given lessons in morality by some segment of the American people and the vast majority of the American MSM is somewhat ... tiring.
Some days ago, an American visitor wrote here that he was pleased the French had eventually chosen a president that was to his taste. Well, thanks, but isn't that a bit patronizing? How would you like, Mustang, to be told by any European that he/she's glad you'd voted, say, H. Clinton as president because that was the best thing to do?
Nevetheless, this visitor is always welcome ...

"no one should be throwing stones — in any direction."
Well, wasn't that the point of this post finally?

Thanks for your argumented comment Mustang.

LASunsett a dit…

Hi Flocon,

//Some days ago, an American visitor wrote here that he was pleased the French had eventually chosen a president that was to his taste. Well, thanks, but isn't that a bit patronizing? How would you like, Mustang, to be told by any European that he/she's glad you'd voted, say, H. Clinton as president because that was the best thing to do?//

I don't know if that was me or not that said that, because I am pleased Sarkozy won (despite the fact that I will probably not benefit personally, except in better relations with the French government).

But, I distinctly remember reading much about the French media saying how they wished for John Kerry to win in 04. Since none of us had blogs back then, we cannot point back to things we all said during that campaign. But I can safely say that most of the posters on SF will be glad, when Bush is gone. And that's okay, they cannot help how they feel and (as Mustang said) that's what this forum of communication is for.

As for the dark periods of American history, remember, we came from Europe. We brought much of our culture and ways from Europe, the good and the bad. When I see things here, I see a little of Europe in most every part of this country.

Flocon a dit…

Hi LA
Looks like you're an early bird...

"I don't know if that was me or not that said that"
No it wasn't you and you're right, that's what the Internet is for.

"I distinctly remember reading much about the French media saying how they wished for John Kerry to win in 04."
Reading much about the French media ... Hmmm
You don't read French as far as I remember so I guess you read what the American media told you was in the French media...
Kerry had a French branch in his family with one of his cousin a former politician here (Brice Lalonde), so there was a little bit of curiosity.
Besides, all media the world over wished the victory of Kerry over Bush. It certainly wasn't a specific French wish...

Regarding the European presence in America I had a post at SF's last August which was somehow related to this notion...

Flocon a dit…

I was in a rush for my last answer to LA...

Comparing the French president and the American one doesn't hold water LA.
It is one thing to tell the French they would be better off with one particular president rather than another one; it is another thing to wish the world would be relieved with another American president.

I would have thought the French knew better what's best for them rather than an American telling them what is good for them.

When the world media wished a Kerry victory, it wasn't for the sake of Americans but for the sake of the world.

A French president has no influence whatsoever on the course of world events whereas an American president has. It is then perfectly legitimate that the world makes it known what its preferences are. We're all concerned. Which definitively isn't the case with a French, German, Italian, Japanese etc. whatever president.

"When I see things here, I see a little of Europe in most every part of this country."
I've already noticed this American tendancy to put the European influence forward when something bad must be attributed (the Europeans fought and killed native Indians, it's our European heritage etc.) and to assign all the positive to "true" Americans...

Was the Mayflower passengers Europeans or Americans' ancestors?
Where the settlers of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Europeans or good Americans? Sitting on a fence really.

Hmmm... maybe worth a post ;-)

Greg a dit…

Ah, the old "we detest you because you are detestable" excuse for anti-Americanism. Or perhaps simply an admission that America haters like to focus on the worst parts of American society.

Anyway, the real reason people hate the US is that they are raised that way. Pick up a French history book these days and find some passages on the US. It ain't pretty, folks. There was a great study a few years back - too bad I can't find it anymore - that showed a correlation, in Europe at least, between level of education and level of anti-Americanism: the higher one had gone in education in Europe, the more negative their views of the US. Very telling. It's the opposite in Asia, btw....

So, when Americans ask me - and they ask a lot - "why the French hate us," I tell them they were taught to in school.

I'll try to find that study for you all, because it really is fascinating.

Mustang a dit…

I am sure that if you post on Napoleon, I’ll comment about him. :-)

As regards your response to LA, I would assume that pro-American support for a French presidential candidate would garner a similar negative reaction from some quarters in France, as did the support for John Kerry from French media. I find your comment interesting, though. You said, “When the world media wished a Kerry victory, it wasn't for the sake of Americans but for the sake of the world.” Please tell me if you can, what was the basis for this clearly uninformed desire for a Kerry presidency? Please don’t tell me that it had anything to do with his campaign rhetoric.

I think it is natural for educated citizens to have an interest in international events, but also rare simply because most people (here) are poorly educated. Informed citizens, no matter where they live, understand that isolationist attitudes are no longer possible — that events, and leaders, and legislation, and civil issues in one country can have a profound impact on citizens, governments, and economies of other nations. It is therefore natural to have an interest in, or curiosity about, what is taking place at other locations. For example, it may be possible that you honestly believe that the American people deserve a better president than Mr. Bush. It is equally possible that some Americans think that the people of France deserve better leadership than Royale. Since I know very little about Sarkozy or Royale, other than what I can read in the on-line press — in English — I am hardly in a position to say that I am glad Royale lost her bid for the presidency, or that the world would be a much better place with a Royale Presidency.

I do have two observations, however. The first is that based on my understanding of President Sarkozy’s foreign policy thus far, he seems to be on the right track even-as-much as I have no idea how well he is doing on matters of domestic concern. Second, he is a politician.

Semper Fi

Greg a dit…

It bugs me that I can't find that study, but here's an interesting article on a recent joint France-Germany history textbook and the anti-Americanism being taught in western Europe.

http://tinyurl.com/h5u5x

Flocon a dit…

Mustang
"the support for John Kerry from French media."
Once again there was nothing specifically French here.

"what was the basis for this clearly uninformed desire for a Kerry presidency?"
Maybe the world was expecting a president that wouldn't say "whether you're with us or against us" even to America's closest friends and allies.

"based on my understanding of President Sarkozy’s foreign policy thus far, he seems to be on the right track"
How would you define the right track? Isn't it another example of being told right from wrong? ;-)

When LA's favourite French politician was elected back in 1995 I remember the American media being pleased that an energetic younger pro-American president was leading France out of the perceived anti-American policy of the old dusty intellectual Mitterrand. You know what happened...

Sarkozy is a politician as you pointed out and he's known in France to have treachery running in his blood. He's above all a master in opportunism. But I have to say, Royale is simply pathetic...

The main issue of this post I already addressed in another post that you may be interested to read. It wasn't about morality, rather... but see by yourself.

Mustang a dit…

How would you define the right track? Isn't it another example of being told right from wrong?

Au contraire — it is no more than informed opinion. Only time will tell us if this opinion has merit. Your analysis of Sarkozy (as a politician) is interesting. You see, this is where we are closest to complete agreement; it may be impossible to find any such creature who does not have treachery running in his blood, or whom is not an opportunist. From a list of all the world’s notable politicians, we would find that they have much in common. Few have demonstrated that in the final analysis, they deserved the people who they ostensibly served; in truth, they best served themselves. We only have ourselves to blame for lousy politicians, however. Again — my opinion.

Thank you for the link to a well-written essay. Have you noticed how difficult it is to find news articles, as opposed to critical commentaries? I would be grateful to read about events in other places without having journalists confuse news with views. The MSM practices “yellow journalism” when they distort truth to achieve some political agenda, even-as-much as I understand that there has never been an unbiased press. I do disagree, however, with your example of “imperialism.” I think what you described are examples of ethnocentrism; I think there is an important distinction between the two concepts. The former is an inherent belief of superior culture; the latter suggests the imposition of government or political control over others.

Thank you for this dialogue.

Flocon a dit…

Mustang

"Have you noticed how difficult it is to find news articles, as opposed to critical commentaries?"
Agree, that was the topic of yesterday's post (about avian flue)

"I do disagree, however, with your example of “imperialism.” I think what you described are examples of ethnocentrism"
I admit your distinction, I should have been more cautious in my word choice. Thanks for making me aware of this.
And thanks for your interest and having taken the time to read an ancient post.

LASunsett a dit…

//Maybe the world was expecting a president that wouldn't say "whether you're with us or against us" even to America's closest friends and allies.//

Anyone with any political savvy can see that this was a mistake. I have criticized this statement, as well as getting on the aircraft carrier with the banner saying "Mission Accomplished". In my musings, status post those comments, I couldn't find one thing good that could/would come of them and would have advised heavily against both.

Not that it's bad to take the attitude that he described, but if that be the case, it has to be undertaken more quietly, in a less brash manner. "Bring it on" wasn't exactly the pinnacle of international diplomacy, either.

But having said this, I would rather have a President that makes a stand against those that seek to kill innocents and doesn't pander to all sides, because he is worried what people think of us. When I do my job, it is critical that I take nothing personally and I simply cannot run in a personality contest. When a man or woman sits in the White House, the same thing applies.

It is my firm belief, from sizing up both candidates, Sen. Kerry didn't represent the ideology or philosophical outlook on foreign policy that I did. I did not want him to be making deals for the US, because I firmly felt that he would not do what was best for my country, as compared to George Bush.

But, like Mustang says, it's just my opinion.

You, on the other hand, thought it would have been better for the world had Kerry been elected. And you know what? You would have been right. But I don't vote for leaders that will make the world better. Right now, I feel it is more important that my leaders make America safer.

//Reading much about the French media ... Hmmm
You don't read French as far as I remember so I guess you read what the American media told you was in the French media...//


Who needs to read French, when you have this.

Flocon a dit…

"You, on the other hand, thought it would have been better for the world had Kerry been elected."
Have you ever read anything from me saying anything close to this?

As a matter of fact I couldn't care less who sits in the White House.
J.Kerry happens to speak French and that would have been unusual for an American president to speak my language. Period.

Other than that, I haven't the sligtest idea what his program was (if there was a program).
You may also be interested in learning that the French TV satirical program "Les Guignols de l'info" ridiculed him many times on ground of his incompetence.

Please, don't credit me with thoughts that aren't mine ;-)
All the same, I don't care a fig who will be sitting in the oval office by 2009.

Now, I fear for the safety of the US once G.W Bush is gone...

LASunsett a dit…

//Have you ever read anything from me saying anything close to this?//

No, I couldn't point to anything specific. But, come on Flocon, you have been merciless in your critical onslaughts towards Bush. Is it such a crime to think that by inference, you would have "preferred" Kerry over Bush?

Nevertheless, I will concede this point that you have never "said" you cared. ;)

//All the same, I don't care a fig who will be sitting in the oval office by 2009.//

From the looks of things, you will have your choice of incompetents to ridicule. no matter who does win. ;)

Flocon a dit…

No, it is no crime to infer but it was wrong. I may dislike Putin but I don't care who will succeed him some day.
The same with your presidents... or would be ones. It's none of my business and I certainly wouldn't tell any American he's made the good choice when electing such or such person.

On the other hand I believe the world would have been a safer place without G.W Bush.

Some other Americans seem to share this point of view...

"Right now, I feel it is more important that my leaders make America safer."
Hmmm... At the cost of hundreds thousands innocents Irakis, a devastated country, billion peoples around the world with a not so favourable image (to say the least) of your country. With next to 4000 American soldiers dead, a price tag in the 600 billion dollars...

Sounds very much like: the world can collapse provided I feel secure...

LASunsett a dit…

//Sounds very much like: the world can collapse provided I feel secure...//

Has France collapsed? Has Europe, Russia, China, India, Africa, South America, or any other world entity besides Iraq's former regime collapsed? If they have, it wasn't because of Iraq.

I don't know about you Flocon, but it doesn't look that much different to me. It was a dangerous place before Iraq, and it still is. One thing we can say for sure, Saddam will never kill anyone again. And he will not provide terrorists with anything that can kill innocents.

Flocon a dit…

"Has France collapsed? Has Europe, Russia, China, India, Africa, South America, or any other world entity besides Iraq's former regime collapsed?"
It's a pattern of thought I was thinking of. I hope you don't think of me as someone as stupid as to realistically imagine the world would collapse, do you? I was speaking figuratively and you know it.

"Saddam will never kill anyone again. And he will not provide terrorists with anything that can kill innocents."
Saddam provided terrorists with weapons? Weapons of mass destruction probably...
And I thought 17 out of the 20 9/11 highjackers were from America's closest ally in the region, the good Saudis.

LA, I know what I owe you in terms of PR but please, refrain to use childlike arguments with me. Please... ;-)

ThanKwee-Anajo a dit…

about Saddam Hussein and terrorist

One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

Saddam Hussein had to deal with the explosive situation between Shiites and Sunnis. At one time the U.S. was working with the Shiites. Then we decided to work with the Sunnis. It is perfectly clear now that either side can be considered an "enemy' or an "ally" depending upon how one analyzes the situation. Some Americans thought it would be a good idea to bomb the Sunnis into oblivion. How is that any different that Saddam Hussein wanting to bomb the Shiites into oblivion?

LASunsett a dit…

Flocon,

//LA, I know what I owe you in terms of PR but please, refrain to use childlike arguments with me. Please...//

1. You owe me nothing. I link to your posts because I want to. I think you are a smart guy and have much to offer and only wish to share with my readers, those things you choose to share.

2. I am not intending to devolve this into a child-like argument.

3. I am only trying to debate the areas in which I am in disagreement with you.

4. I apologize if my discourse reflected anything but.

Flocon a dit…

"I am only trying to debate the areas in which I am in disagreement with you."
You're welcome. As you say, this is the reason why we enjoy the Internet... ;-)

ThanKwee-Anajo a dit…

Flocon,

Au lieu de répondre au mal invitées, c'est mieux, je crois (mais ce n'est que mon opinion) de les supprimer leurs coms et de ne pas en répondre.

Chaque personne peux avoir leur propre blog s'il veulent s'exprimer n'importe comment, quand mémé.

superfrenchie a dit…

flocon to Rocket:

//You f. off! All your "comments" will be deleted you SOB!//

Good to know. If that's the case, I'm back commenting here. Thanks Flocon.

Huh, sort of, maybe. I actually do not agree with your post. We are all oblivious to our nations' pasts, and that's a good thing. Or we would never do anything in the world. Why wouldn't we want to do something about the Sudan simply because of Algeria? Why shouldn't the US get involved in Bosnia simply because of slavery? What counts is what they want to do now, and why. I do agree that the US' moralizing tone is often inappropriate, annoying and self-serving, for example in Iraq or Iran. But it's only because it is such in that particular circumstance. If they're going to Haiti, or Bosnia, or the Sudan, I do not have the same objection simply because the motivation is different. I don't care their past. I look at what they want to do and why and make a value judgment from that. Not from their past.

Flocon a dit…

Hi SF
I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing here and I probably haven't made myself clearly understood.

I don't dispute your argument in the least; what I wanted to express is how "heavy" and tiring is the moralizing tone of certain segments of the American population and media regarding how the world should act and behave (according to their beliefs and tenets).

The title of the post, "I feel good", wanted to emphasize how easily some people forget the black stains in their past (we all have many) but never forget to recall and mention the dark stain inherent to the history of any human group.
It's called hypocrisy and it's sometimes unbearable.

Now, when they act for the sake of everyone, it's ok but it's less so to be told again and again:
"Hey, look what we're doing for you!"
"Hey, look what we've done for you:"

Shannon, the girl at the rock concert! a dit…

Dearest Flocon,

As not only a citizen that have lived throughout the world. We must forget that all nations try to move forward and take lessons from their short-comings.

There is so much recent history that is just not coming to light of Afraica, Middle East and South America, and etc....

It is difficult to make a complete observation at this point.

It is often easier to arm chair quarterback.

Flocon a dit…

And here is an example of what the MC shouldn't have done: To not answer a comment (that of Shannon, the girl at the rock concert).

Je ne sais pas qui c'était, je ne crois pas qu'elle était déjà passée ni qu'elle soit revenue, d'autant plus que je ne lui ai pas répondu.

Grave faute d'éducation là...

Dearest Flocon... Hmmm... I should have answered the girl at the rock concert...