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Please, please, let's try to keep this unbiased, and let's try to avoid partisan bickering. We can do this. This article should consist of a report about what anti-Americanism is, who harbors this attitude, why they do, etc. It should also include replies; i.e., we don't want just to talk about the evils of the American military in Serbia, for example, without also giving intelligent, sympathetic explanations of their behavior. Don't try to convince people of the evils of America or the virtues of America--report the facts about anti-Americanism. --Larry Sanger

I'm going to personally (try to) enforce the following rule: if you put up an example of grounds for anti-Americanism, you must also supply a fair, sympathetic reply to that, of a sort that a patriotic, intelligent American would approve. (Stop laughing, I'm serious.) Failure to supply a fair, sympathetic reply will result in the text being temporarily relegated to this /Talk page. --LMS

Obviously, I haven't done a very good job enforcing the above rule, so I have no real grounds to complain. Nevertheless, I will complain :-) --right now, I don't see very many "fair, sympathetic" replies to the charges made. Not surprisingly, people have simply used it as a platform (for anti-Americanism, of course!). They can't be bothered to try to explore what intelligent Americans might offer in defense of some (not all) of this shockingly bad behavior on the part of Americans. I find that interesting. :-)
America has a history of supplying funds for "freedom fighters" and extremists outside of their national borders. This can be funds provided by the government, by private citizens or by a combination of the two. People who have suffered the consequences of this funding are naturally prone to see this activity in a negative light.
I have nothing to say about CIA's funding, they are notorous of a lot of illegal activities overseas. I believe most of us still remembers Oliver North. I guess when they are not on US soil, they don't have to abide to US laws. However, I disagree with the private funding being added to the US's tap. Don't forget the US is made of immigrants from all over the world, (except the native Indian Americans). Some Irish Americans support Ireland, some Chinese Americans support China, some Iraqi Americans support Iraq. They cannot represent the US involvement.
Of course lots of Americans still have ties to their (previous) home countries (for example Northern Ireland). On the other hand, they are still seen as Americans by people living in Britain, so their money looks "from the outside" as if it comes from America. Actually, the text you comment does say "This can be funds provided by the government, by private citizens or by a combination of the two." which means that their money isn't seen as coming from the US government. --Pinkunicorn
If you count all involvement of US citizens as fuel to hatred against the US, then we have the whole world against us because our population comprises of people from around the world. Our citizens tie to all countries in the world personally or through their ancestors, and hence potentially interfere with every countries in the world and make enemy everywhere. It is unfair to put the blame on the US, but the mixture of people may also be the reason why we are so hated.
Even a close ally like the United Kingdom has had a long history of Americans openly raising funds for both the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA. Funds have also been raised for the British National Party by the American Friends of the British National Party, in a manner denounced as illegal on both sides of the Atlantic by the Southern Poverty Law Centre in America and by Labour MPs in the United Kingdom.
If the US is held accountable for the fundraising by her citizens, the Saudi Arabia should be responsible to what bin Ladin have done too. My point is that, the anger is misplaced unless the government is responsible.

What do you mean? I don't understand why you want to remove the first paragraph above, really (possibly the use of the word "extremist"). It is positive in its use of "freedom fighter" instead of "terrorist" (but it would perhaps be better to remove the quotes). I think you're adding bias, not removing it. --Pinkunicorn

I am completely open to changes to my contribution.

However to understand anti-Americanism you need to understand what causes it and the funding I'm talking about is well-documented. A patriotic, intelligent American should approve of being informed of this, if he didn't know of it already. To America's credit the Real IRA is a list of organisations that it is illegal to raise funds for and this possibly should have been highlighted to show that America is taking steps to stem this kind of funding.


Since we are making an attempt at writing from the neutral point of view, on such a supremely partisan topic as this, I think it is very important that we make this an example of how we can write unbiased stuff. Unbiased in this case means presenting the other side. You did know that there's another side, I'm sure. You might not want to think about it, or give it any credit, but it needs to be presented fairly if we're going to do justice to the nonbias policy. The first paragraph above is added as an example of something to which an objection is being made. Fairness demands that the allegedly objectionable behavior be given some manner of fair defense. (Actually, the manner of defense should probably be the ones used most commonly by the government or by its most prominent defenders at the time; William F. Buckley, for example. :-) ) I will celebrate if this actually succeeds in teaching you to understand your enemies. --LMS

IMO, the article shouldn't assume that funding the IRA is wrong (even if it obviously is; let your readers decide). It should also express defense of (and give an explanation for) the practice of funding of the IRA. --Larry


I'm going to personally (try to) enforce the following rule: if you put up an example of grounds for anti-Americanism, you must also supply a fair, sympathetic reply to that, of a sort that a patriotic, intelligent American would approve.

I doubt a patriotic intelligent American would try and justify all of America's past actions. More likely they would talk about the relative scarcity of atrocities, more than made up for by America's democracy and egalitarianism, so that while noone is perfect it's still the best we've got. Or something like that. I think demanding a counterpoint for every point might not be providing an NPOV so much as restricting what material can go on here.

I contribute an piece on Americans sullying their own reputation and pointed out how other Americans can save the day by doing something positive. As Bill Clinton is too contraversal for many Americans I used Martin Luther King as a example no-one could criticise.

"Positive" is a value term here. One persons "positive action" is another's "Anti-Americanism", and vice-versa.

That comment about Americans salvaging their reputations seems more like an editorial than an encyclopedia piece; it implies a particular stand, that America needs to salvage its reputation, which is a position, not a fact. - Tim


One of the problems I have with this article is that, even though it begins the article by listing any of several things about American that various people might hate (separating the list with "or") it spends the rest of the article conflating them, as if everyone who hated American hated all those things at the same time. There might be "anti-Americans" in Europe, for example, might hate the general past and present practice of US foreign policy, but who still love to go to Hollywood movies and who don't hate the American people.

It seems to me that if you are going to begin an article by saying "X involves people who a, b, c, or d, then you have to discuss a, b, c, and d separately in the article. Otherwise, you are confusing the topic and not doing it justice.


You know, we could get a lot more done if you would actually work on the article... :-)

I don't see what the following is doing in an encyclopedia; again, do please look at neutral point of view.

Other observers see that actions by unrepresentative Americans can still sour the perception of America to various people both inside and outside of America. Some Americans make a practise of advocating aspects of American society known to be obnoxious to their audiences and this does help. Ultimately America's salvation is generally other Americans acting in commendable ways that show a redeeming side to a national character that other nationals have sullied, either conciously or unconciously. An excellent example of this is Martin Luther King who showed that America herself could start to heal infamous racial divides and discrimination if people worked together through non-violence.
Of course, the great strength of American society has always been its willingness to challenge political and other authorities and the "general wisdom". These values are recognized as essential to the functioning of a democracy and are enshrined in the United States Constitution which United States Military personnel and elected political officials are sworn to uphold.

The latter paragraph in particular is blatant opinion piece writing. Who says the great strength of American society is that? --LMS

I thought this was something we could all agree on -- Neutral point of view. Guess not.

I'm *not* trying to be argumentative here, but just curious: You would list the great strengths of "American" society as what??



There are legitimate criticisms to be raised against any country. This doesn't mean that there is widespread hatred of every country. There are plenty of bad things we could say about Mexico, if we wanted, but there is no anti-Mexican sentiment across the globe. There is no anti-Ugandan sentiment. Nobody cares about Uganda. Uganda doesn't make anyone else feel inferior, therefore, nobody hates it. That criticisms can be raised against the US doesn't say anything about why there is anti-American sentiment. Criticisms of America and anti-Americanism are really different subjects entirely. - Tim

Actually there is anti-Ugandan sentiment in the world, and there are people who care what happens in Uganda, it's actually a hot button in some circles (e.g., human rights advocates, ecologists, Africans...)

The article as currently written seems like it is trying to be a counter-argument against Anti-americanism, which is inappropriate, IMHO.

The article should present facts about what anti-Americanism consists of, and the grounds for it; then, in order to be written from the neutral point of view, it should present fair replies to each of the levelled criticisms. If we do this (which as of 10:21 PM server time, Sept. 27, we haven't) is the article likely to seem like a "counter-argument against anti-Americanism"? I hope not. --LMS

Bet you one of the main problems is the line "Understanding valid criticism can help Americans counter anti-Americanism", which appears right before we get into the details. This makes it seem like the details are important in so far as they help the reader be anti-anti-American. Otherwise, the article is shaping up really well, as wikipedia articles tend to do.

I agree, so I went ahead and deleted it:
Understanding valid criticism can help Americans counter anti-Americanism.
--Simon J Kissane

I think the article still lacks very many fair, intelligent, complete responses to these objections, which shows either the very stubborn bias of the people working on it, or their ignorance. I suspect it's the latter more than the former. --LMS


Many sociologists theorise that the continuing vitality of religion in American life, compared to many European countries, is due to the lack of a strong state church (or indeed, any state church at all) during much of American history.

This statement does not seem to be an objection to or criticism of America, but a comment on religion in America. I do not object to the statement, as such, but think it should go in another article, such as Religion in America.


I was trying to make the point that much of the criticism of American pop culture in Europe seems to come from the "Cultural Elites" rather than everyday citizens, who by all accounts enjoy and view Star Wars and Sex and The City as much as Americans themselves do. --Robert Merkel

mass murderers like bin Laden

bin Laden is NOT a mass murder.


The Anti-Americanism page sounds like it was written by Americans confused by why people might be resentful of Americans. Perhaps only those outside of the United States should be writing here. Sounds a little like CNN talking heads pondering the question, "Why could they possibly hate us? Does anyone remember the slogan, "Yankee go home"?

First of all a distinction needs to be made between what people in other countries think of Americans (U.S citizens as opposed to Canadians) and what they think of US leaders. Many in other countries direct their anger at the imperialism of the US government while feeling hospitable to citizens of the United States. To lump these two distinct concepts together into one generic term, Anti-Americanism, only confuses issues and does not help in the understanding of what is really going on.

There are a number of reasons why people might be angry at the United States:

  1. Support for unpopular dictators in other countries
  2. Destabilizing elected governments
  3. Expecting everyone everywhere to speak and understand English
  4. Double standard in the support of International norms in all countries but Israel
  5. Unilateral stance taken toward International treaties - global warming, land mines, International court
  6. US domination of International financial institutions
  7. Universal jurisdiction of US laws and courts - without any world accountability
  8. The US standard of living may be a source of envy
Which of these is not covered in the main article? --AxelBoldt
Probably 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 IMHO --Artistotle

Even phrasing the term as "Anti-Americanism" shows an arrogance toward other countries in the Americas and may even be further grounds for hostility toward those in the US who cannot imagine that there are others in this continent.

The other problem with this entry is slanted nature of the writing - " to violence, such as that shown by some Islamists and by Osama bin Laden." What violence has Osama bin Laden committed and why is he and Islamists being singled out in this entry? "mass murderers like bin Laden" - looks to me like somebody has been watching too much CNN.

American Funding of Terrorists and Extremists - why is the word "Extremist" used here - this is a propaganda term being used as a code word to demonize those out of favor with the media establishment.

"America's religious tolerance and diversity, and its separation of church and state, are offensive to people in many cultures, such as Islam." Religious tolerance and diversity - is this why people who look like Arabs are being killed and harassed. Ask Blacks about their experience with "tolerance and diversity". Tolerance in the US is a work in progress and has a way to go. I fail to understand why someone in another country would hate Americans because they were too tolerant. The United States is not terribly tolerant of people why don't profess a belief in God (or even a non Christian version) - there is even the slogan "In God We Trust" on the money, for Christ sake. I am sick of all this self-congratulation in the media about "America's religious tolerance" - I say walk the walk before talking the talk.

Having lived here all my life, and having never been a Christian, I find these comments to be ridiculous. - Tim
I agree that these comments are ridiculous. In Afghanistan, the penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity is death. In the United States, among ordinary day to day people, nobody gives a rat's ass what your religion is. Can tolerance for diversity be improved in the United States? Sure, why not? But it still remains a fact that the degree of tolerance that we do have here is extraordinary to the majority of the world, and a source of distaste for them as well. -- Jimbo Wales

Any discussion of why there is hostility toward Americans and the United States needs to include something about the US support for Israel and how people in other countries view this.

This is covered. --AxelBoldt

I don't understand why you added the above comments; the purpose of talk pages is not to vent your personal opinions on the subject but to help improve the article. So, help improve the article, bearing in mind that it should be written from a neutral point of view (see that page--you won't know what we're talking about until you do). --LMS



There are bits of Anti-Americanism that seem to fit neatly under the banner "The Collective National Character" or "Stereotypes of American Character" perhaps, notably (and I should add that of course these are beliefs that I think exist in some quarters rather than assertions I'm necessarily prepared to support - note also that I'm concentrating on Americans who travel abroad because that's one of the main ways people in other countries form opinions of a country's citizens):

  • Americans tend to see everything in black and white rather than shades of gray.
  • Americans place too much faith in their nation's government, particularly its morality in foriegn policy.
  • Americans know nothing about what goes on beyond their borders.
  • Americans believe they know everything and don't mind sharing that knowledge.
  • Americans don't bother paying attention to what the rest of the world thinks of their actions, hence getting a rude shock when they find out.
  • Americans are braggarts.
  • Americans don't understand that other peoples may actually prefer some aspects of their way of life to the American way.
  • Americans are totally tactless.
  • WRT lack of tact, when travelling through foriegn countries, they complain endlessly about things that are different to the US rather than going out and experiencing them.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. These kind of things (fair or not) are perceived in various parts of the world, and they're really about common characteristics of Americans, rather than actions of American government or other American institutions.


Does this stuff fit in the article, and if so does it deserve a new subheading? --Robert Merkel


Yes--how about "The American national character." But if you can (I actually very seriously doubt you can), try to supply some sort of response on each point, and/or a response to the whole. And, next, we're going to write an article on anti-Australianism. :-) --LMS


One big problem that I see with this page is that for the most part, it consists primarily of the sorts of complaints about America that only Americans (or inhabitants of similar Western countries) are likely to make. These are mostly things that we do not like about our own country.

For example, the Middle Eastern and Islamic countries which are the most virulently anti-American most certainly do not take issue with such things as our use of capital punishment.

It should be noted that people hate America for reasons that are not things that we do not like about ourselves, at all. They hate us for having freedom of religion, freedom of speech, trial by jury, a democratically elected government, an open economy permitting work by women and the charging of interest on loans, for attempting to educate everyone, for outlawing slavery.

It is a sort of (benevolent) Western bias, I suppose, to fail to recognize that these are at least important reasons why we are hated. We apply our own moral standards to the hated, searching our souls for what we have done wrong. But we should also look at the things that we have done right.

Take as an example our often misguided funding of very questionable freedom fighters. There can be no question that the victims of these so-called freedom fighters should hate us, and the article points this out quite well. But why then do the beneficiaries of our misguided funded hate us as well? Because the very ideas that make our funding of them stupid (i.e. they are not freedom fighters at all) makes them hate us (because we are free).

Afghanistan makes for a useful example. We (quite improperly, I think) helped the so-called freedom fighters there kick out the Soviet Union because we were (quite properly, I think) convinced that the Soviets constituted an evil empire. But those freedom fighters hated us even as they took our help, because of all the values that I listed above.

My overall point, whenever this gets incorporated into the article, if it does, is that we shouldn't just list things that we dislike about ourselves and then feel that we've done a good job of being unbiased and critical of our own culture. All we've done is miss the point: they hate us for the very things that we consider good about ourselves. Why that should be boggles our minds, but nonetheless it is true. --Jimbo Wales


Jimbo: I think there are two entirely different phenomena that are sometimes called anti-Americanism. There is the hatred of America by some Islamic extremists; and then there is the dislike or envy (not hatred) that people in many other Western countries have for certain aspects of the U.S. The first is more often called anti-Americanism, especially recently; but the second has been called anti-Americanism as well, e.g. in works on the history of U.S.-European relations, or French ambitions to turn the EU into a military alliance to counter American influence in NATO. -- Simon J Kissane


They hate us for having freedom of religion, freedom of speech, trial by jury, a democratically elected government, an open economy permitting work by women and the charging of interest on loans, for attempting to educate everyone, for outlawing slavery.

The UK has had all these things, most of them earlier than the US, plus the UK pissed off pretty much everybody all over the world as a colonial power. Why is there no Anti-Great-Britainism?

I don't see any evidence that either of the above factors significantly contributes to middle-eastern anti-americanism. I think middle-eastern anti-americanism has two deep roots:

  1. US support for Israel, which is seen as a terrorist occupant.
  2. Envy. Islam was supposed to rule the world, and it did for some 1000 years. During the middle ages, Islam was the most advanced and enlightened civilization. They kicked out the crusaders, and they almost made it to Vienna. They simply think they deserve to be in charge, and feel humiliated by their weakness.

--AxelBoldt

I don't necessarily agree or disagree, but I do freely admit that my tidbit (above) is opinionated. I'm not planning to write anything on the main page because I'm not currently mentally able to put aside my own pro-Americanism to write anything about anti-Americanism that doesn't sound like bashing. :-)

One recommendation I have for the article is for someone to rewrite it so that instead of saying "They hate America for propping up various evil dictators from time to time", it says "They hate America because of the perception that America props up various evil dictators from time to time". This is one of our best tricks for writing something more neutral -- talking about waht people believe, rather than what actually is the case. (Oh, and of course, we shouldn't call us America, but the US, I suppose?)

Some of the things listed above (not in your response, Axel, but further up the page, strike me as just plain silly. Either Americans as I know them do not expect everyone to speak English (what a stupid stereotype of Americans!), or they do so rationally since lots of people do speak English as a second language in at least both Europe and Asia. They do so, of course, because the United States is the greatest country in the world and they love us. ;-) (I'm just deliberately being biased here for fun on the talk page.) --Jimbo Wales

Jimbo, I didn't say that those stereotypes were all rational or fair, nor was I saying that even if the stereotypes had some truth to them they were necessarily bad things about Americans (the ability to come out and call a spade a spade is extremely refreshing after dealing with polite obfuscators). I just said that they existed. --Robert Merkel
Oh, yes, I see that now. My apologies. :-) I think I'll butt out for a while. As I say, at the current time and probably for the next month or two, my rabidly pro-American sentiments will be running so high that any contribution here by me will simply cause more trouble than it solves. I guess one way to gracefully help us reach a consensus is to know when to bow out of a discussion because I'm hopelessly partisan. --Jimbo Wales

AxelBoldt, I agree with your conclusions except for the envy and the absolute absensce of any Anti-Great-Britainism.

The Islamic areas probably just want to lead their own lifestyle, at the various level of adherence to religious and cultural rules, and see this frustrated. Feeling impotent about Palestinian treatment is a big frustration with pollsters finding it to almost over-whelmingly one of the one of key subjects in that region. This amplifies any sense of interference and possible anger over being supported by the Americans during the Cold War and then being ignored afterwards.