I believe in America.
This is the famous opening line of the Hollywood film The Godfather. Incidentally, I share the same sentiment and I’d like to believe that most of my activist friends have a similar high regard for what America stands for. So why are we called anti-Americans?
First, America should not be reduced into the United States of America. We all know that USA is part of North America but there are also other countries in Central America and South America. Clearly, the geographical America is bigger than the 50 states of the USA.
But let us accept and adopt for the moment the convenient but wrong practice of misrepresenting USA for the whole America. Would I still say that I believe in America? The answer is yes.
I believe in America whose Declaration of Independence inspired countless anti-colonial movements in the world. I also believe in America which became the refuge of millions of immigrants who crossed the seas to escape wars and famines. I salute the brave Americans who fought slavery, racism, and Nazism. The world will be a less interesting place without America’s basketball games, corndogs, and user-friendly software apps.
Our so-called anti-Americanism is not a rejection of ‘truth, justice, and the American way of life’ but a celebration of these principles.
What we emphatically oppose is America’s brutal insistence that it has the natural right to impose its political, economic, and military hegemony on other nations. What we denounce is the American government every time it thinks and acts like a beastly machine. What we spread is the propaganda that America can combat global evils without undermining UN agreements and human rights.
If there are rallies in front of US embassies, they are often organized in response to a notorious or deadly policy of the US government. No activist group will hold a protest action just because many people were outraged by the twerking of Miley Cyrus. But a US-led drone attack which killed innocent civilians would probably inspire even non-activists to condemn the military aggression of the US.
‘Anti-Americanism’ is more than just a criticism of the misguided policies of the US government. It is also a plea for greater nationalism which is an effective response to defang the venomous bites of US meddling. When nations assert their sovereignty, US hegemony is weakened. This explains why non-American activists are consistently exhorting their leaders to be more patriotic and challenge the bullying antics of the US government.
It must be clarified that ‘anti-Americanism’ was never and is still never about the boycotting of ‘Made in America’ goods. When activists remind us to ‘Buy Local’, it is more likely motivated by the need to stimulate local industries than the desire to inflict hurt on American producers. Besides, the global assembly line production has made it almost impossible to distinguish which products are distinctly American. A boycott campaign is often associated with a consumer, labor, or environmental issue. Some activists are junking American burgers not because they dislike Uncle Sam but because of health concerns; or they could be demanding an end to the wage exploitation of workers in fastfood stores.
Criticizing America is not enough. One should build networks, reach out to other ‘anti-Americans’ in the world, and expose the murderous underside of American Supremacy. The natural allies in the struggle are the Americans themselves who are living inside the ‘belly of the beast’. Why? Because they also understand what it means to be oppressed by a police state and a scandalously elitist system. America’s terroristic policies are enforced even inside its borders.
The sins of American politicians are partly redeemed by the heroic efforts of ordinary Americans who are battling modern racism, slavery, and Fascism in their society. The most determined ‘anti-Americans’ are Americans who are opposed to unjust wars, finance speculation, and race discrimination. They are students who marched for civil liberties, workers who occupied Wall Street, and Facebookers who rejected the government’s draconian Internet laws.
It is inaccurate and unfair to claim that ‘anti-American’ protests in the world are fueled only by hate. Every protest is also an act of solidarity for all Americans who are working very hard to make the American Dream a genuine democratic reality.
‘Anti-Americanism’ is not the proper term when describing the global resistance movement that seeks to destroy the monstrous legacy of American exceptionalism. There is a name for what America has been doing to the world in the past century and it is called Imperialism. This makes us neither anti-Americans nor anti-USA. Proudly and militantly we raise the banner of the anti-imperialist movement.
Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org