Irish people have responded wonderfully to the horror that befell
New York and Washington on September 11. Visit the American embassy
in Dublin, and you'll find that its railings are festooned with
bouquets of flowers, garlands, and cards expressing our sorrow for
what happened. At the last count, some 40,000 people had signed
the book of condolences at the embassy. An untold number have signed
similar books up and down the country.
to mark the National Day of Mourning, so many people attended church
services that some places actually ran out of Communion. Churches
were more packed than usual that Sunday as well.
That has been
the response of the people of Ireland. Our intelligentsia, on the
other hand, have been absolutely despicable. Within hours of the
bombing, Ireland's crown prince of political correctness, Fintan
O'Toole of the Irish Times, was writing that there is in
American society a fundamentalism every bit as dangerous as that
which inflicted the carnage on New York and Washington. America,
he wrote, is "merciless and arrogant."
in Ireland is overwhelmingly Leftist. Where O'Toole led, many others
followed. An Irish Times editorial castigated America for
its unilateralist policies. Numerous commentators said that the
U.S. had bought this upon itself with its hateful foreign policy.
A major radio presenter on the national station, RTE, said that
"the sins of America's past were coming back to haunt them."
the secular Left and Right-wing religious fundamentalists such as
Jerry Falwell differ little in terms of their analysis: Both believe
America is paying for its sins, they merely differ as to what those
sins are. (Unlike Falwell, the Left has yet to apologize for its
The same sort
of despicable take on events was on offer in Britain, with the chief
offenders being the Guardian, the Independent, the
Observer, and the New Statesman. Worst of all, however,
has been the BBC, and especially its flagship current-affairs discussion
program, Question Time. Question Time features a panel
of four commentators or politicians selected for their knowledge
of the issue of the day, and who take questions from a studio audience.
The show aired
just two days after the bombings, was without doubt the most hate-filled
program I have ever witnessed. The studio audience appeared to be
about one-third Muslim (as though Britain's population were one-third
Muslim!), with most of the other two-thirds evidently drawn from
sundry left-wing groups.
a member of the panel or a member of the audience
spoke of how America must understand how much it is hated by the
world, there was fierce applause. All of this hatred was directed
at Phil Lader, who was almost reduced to tears.
So strong was
the rage that it was almost a physical force. America was to blame
for all the ills of the world. Other countries are poor because
it is rich. Peoples are oppressed because it suits American purposes,
or because America can't be bothered to liberate them. America operates
a double standard in the Middle East. And so on and so forth.
We have always
been aware of the phenomenon of anti-Americanism. All great powers
are hated by some, and when a great power makes a mistake, the repercussions
are felt by many. That is in the nature of things. We also know
there are those who think America is evil by its very nature, and
that its "mistakes" are really carefully plotted manifestations
of that evil.
But the hatred
in that BBC studio was so strong, so palpable, so irrational, that
it reminded me of nothing so much as anti-Semitism. We must beware
of pushing this analogy too far, of course for one thing,
Americans are not a vulnerable minority existing at the whim of
host populations. They are like the Jews, however, in having become
the scapegoats of choice for half the planet.
The Jews were
accused of controlling the world's finances; so is the United States.
The Jews were accused of promoting decadence through their control
of culture and the arts. So is the United States. The Jews were
accused of putting their power to a range of nefarious uses. So
is the United States. Corrupt rulers, and would-be rulers, blamed
the woes of their peoples on the Jews. So too do today's rulers
and would-be rulers on the Americans.
were leading Jews in the world of finance gave anti-Semitism a certain
plausibility as did the fact that so many were prominent
in the arts. Anti-Americanism of the extreme "America
is the sum of all evil" kind can seem even more plausible
because America really is a great power that can extend its influence
into all corners of the globe. When a people are oppressed, or poor,
or otherwise suffering, it appears to be a perennial temptation
for them to look for a scapegoat. Rulers will naturally encourage
this so that some outside party, and not they themselves, can be
blamed for the woes of their country.
power and wealth, and the strength of its Jewish lobby, in the Middle
East it has been simplicity itself to mix anti-American with age-old
anti-Semitism to produce a truly poisonous brew. Tens of millions
of people have imbibed this concoction and are now filled with a
hatred of America as strong as that of many Germans in the Weimar
Republic. Osama bin Laden and his followers have followed their
hatred to its logical conclusion, just as Hitler did: If America
really is to blame for the world's problems, then it, and its people,
must be eradicated.