:: Thursday, 13 February 2003 ::
Non sono due cani. Sono due Americani.
My father loves to say that.
Jason Soon blogs about American insults aimed at the French. I reckon Jase is right about this - the insults are too much insult and not enough actual argument.
I got a point to make. And it begins with my Pa. He is Italian. His vision of America is built entirely on Elia Kazan movies of the 1950's. He has never owned an American car, never drunk a drop of American grog, never eaten a plate of BBQ sauced anything. Could not give a stuff who is in power in the US, not interested to go there, meet any Americans, anything. Gino does not care for America, okay? The rebuilding after the war, blah, blah. You are boring him. He does not recall Americans rebuilding houses after the war. He recalls doing that himself. He recalls his country being on the wrong side of that war and then being on the right side of it - at the right time - at the end. Whatever about the Americans.
But he respects the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. The triple crown of horse racing. And he is interested in Pike's Peak, where the rally drivers go. Other than that, the man has no truck with American. Americani, see. Hee. Hee.
Gino respects that tiny corner of American culture. And with that, he recognises that he cannot say all Americans are stupid. Americans have elected a moron, an incompetent, (or Americans have allowed a man who wasn't elected to become leader, blah blah). You know how the vitriol goes. Phil Adams style.
So he doesn't do anything more than make a sly joke based on word play and not on truth. He does not think Americans are dogs. But his arguments against war - and he is pretty against it - are all based on his view that life must not be spent on the exercise. A view contrary to that of the US at the moment. Pa thinks another route should be sought. And Pa's views are not based on the Yanks being imperialist scum blah blah. You now these arguments. Mark Latham style.
So. If you can respect your opponent just a little, the vitriol becomes wholly unnecessary. And being unecessary, if it is still engaged in, well, then it is revealed as vitriol, insulting and hurtful. No excuses.
Latham is insulting and hurtful. Adams is too. And on the war side, Hannity is an example of insulting and hurtful, and some warbloggers are getting there too.
I know full well the insults would be directed at Italy and Italians if Berlusconi took the same view as Schroeder, say, as the many lefties in Italy are pressing him to do. So the vitriol and insult is not personal. Instead it is generalised, and comes from a lack of respect.
And by respect, I do not mean, unconditional love. I mean real admiration for 3 horse races and a mountain drive - not a bunch in the scheme of things - but if the admiration is real, then the respect is there. Just a little. Enough.
Hannity this morning on Fax said something like "Belgium. Wha'? What the hell is that place?" or something utterly disrespectful. As if Magritte never existed. As if moule en frittes was nothing. See, if you can't find one thing to respect in a whole country, with history and people and art, and architecture and food and clothes stuff, man, you are willfully turning away.
And I reckon you can only ever be so insulting about whole peoples if you just do not respect them or anything about them at all. One bit. If you have never learned about what there is about them that is respectable.
And I reckon a bunch of Americans are revealing that lack of respect right about now. On the French. And that is absurd. Because Montaigne, and champagne alone are worthy of respect.
Respect is therefore key.
Unless of course we are talking about the Greeks.
And the Irish...
I will stop now.
:: WB 3:07 am [link+] ::