Thursday, November 21, 2002

Explanation of Prior Satire...

It has come to my attention that certain French people have made their way to my little satire about the war with France.

Ordinarily, I'd be confident in the ability of anyone living in France to recognize satire. (This is based solely on my reading of Balzac--for I was telling the truth when I said I know little about the mores and folkways of the French.) However, the comment from the guy from New Zealand has shaken my confidence.

Hence, I believe it is now necessary for me to explain the satirical elements of the essay, editorial, what have you. Since I am quite disturbed by the thought of anyone taking this literally. I think of the Simpson's episode where the Simpson's went to Brazil and were attacked by monkeys, etc.
The Simpsons is a show that only ridicules the United States. It amazes me that non-Americans could even enjoy it. It is so culturally specific to the U.S. The Brazilians didn't see it as a satire ridiculing what Americans would think of Brazil and thus ridiculing Americans..They thought: They are making fun of Brazil!

This was in fact ridiculing the stereotype (occasionally true) that Americans go to foreign countries and then are disturbed by the fact they are not like the United States. No one spoke English! They had strange animals! It was dirty, etc.

So unsatirically, let me explain a few of the ideas which lie in the background of my satire:

The U.S., oh, the U.S. Where does one start? This crazy country! How do you even explain it? Whew!

(1) When people claim the U.S. is an imperialistic hegemon...I have to say they are right. Except we aren't a successful hegemon. A talented hegemonic imperialist produces attitudes, desires, beliefs in those it hopes to dominate without also making them feel resentment. I'm afraid the U.S. is a cloddish hegemon--like a lover you think would be good to show off but who then embarrasses you at parties. If he just kept his mouth shut you might continue to want him. But he opens it and reveals his agenda and then your disdain is impossible to squelch.

Yet, like all ambitious hegemons, the desire to produce certain loyalty, love, gratitude, etc. on the part of others is there. Thus, for those who fully embrace a vision of a U.S. dominated world order examples of disloyalty, criticism, and so forth just rankle.

I'd like to think it was only limited to the President. The president is actually bothered by the fact that citizens of other nations do not regard the United States with the loyalty one would think is only appropriate to citizens of the United States. (Not recently, I'm afraid. But if it is appropriate to is appropriate to U.S. citizens.) No...Wherever you are, and whatever you do...You are expected to be a patriot. A patriot of another nation. One you don't live in and perhaps have never even visited. If you cannot find it in your heart to be a patriot, then the least you can do is be grateful for the interest we've taken in you!

We know that our national anthem isn't all that great. But we are hoping you will learn it and sing it with fervor...starting now.

I hope you are starting to see that this all has the potentially to be very, very funny. In fact, most of us would laugh until we were sick every day except for the fact that all these amusingly absurd beliefs seem to lend themselves to actions which cause the suffering and death of other people. Still, as you see, there is occasionally the temptation to amusement to maintain one's fragile grip on sanity. I succumbed to this temptation when writing the satire, below.

(2) The French are among those who continue to prefer and value their own national culture and interest over those of that of the U.S. I think there are many explanations for the surprising antipathy to France I've come across in surfing the web. But this certainly seems to be one of them. A second one might be explained by the fact that only members of a stereotyped ethnic group are allowed to criticize or joke about that group. As appalled as we are, it is annoying when someone who fails to fully understand what's really going on points out all the appalling things.

Now...a few explanations of specific elements of the satire

QUOTE: Now what's this all about? Watching those with nuclear weapons, etc. we forgot those who have an even more powerful and more deadly weapon. A weapon that makes us want to do away with them without pity. For it is impossible to pity them such as they are. We cannot mourn their deaths or care for their welfare. Why? Because they have this one deadly ability. An ability that sucks all the empathy from our hearts. I'm talking about the ability to be really, really snide." END QUOTE

Points: (1) Pity requires superiority. (2) But when you have vast technological and economic superiority (such as that the U.S. has over Iraq) over someone it is discomfiting to exercise power over them. Given this logic, only the French are appropriate targets of our superior military power. Please note I do not think the French are appropriate targets. In fact, I think no one is. The whole thing is madness.

QUOTE: We just need a war, any war. It doesn't really matter who with. Once everyone sees our weaponry...They sure as heck won't mess with us...Uh, at least not directly. They might mess with us in a really sneaky way. Like by blowing up something we all hold dear. But not directly they wouldn't! ENDQUOTE

This is just obvious...I'm simply pointing out that the expression of mighty power does nothing to stop those saboteurs from within.

As for the rest of my 'reasons to go to war with France' I'm hoping the power/pity/French not succumbing to our seductive ways fully explains them.

QUOTE: Not nice... What better justification could we have for a war? In fact, isn't this the real reason we always go to war? To make everyone just a little bit nicer? ENDQUOTE

Let's face it. This is a rough summary of all the reasons we have been given for going to war against Iraq OK, it's not really. But there is a kind of peculiar personalization of politics occurring now. Putin is a 'nice guy' but Hussein is 'not a nice guy.'

The rest is just absurd--I'm ridiculing myself for the most part. I don't think Ann Coulter is a prophetess. Bla, bla, bla.

The true parts: No French friends. Hated the movie Un coeur en hiver. Baffled about why people utilize Lacan to explain social reality, understand why they use Foucault to do the same. My American friends in Paris do only date Algerians.


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