OK, Jäeger. Let's see if we can get to the bottom of this.
Here's the good stuff, where we agree or you're being positive:
I know that I am fairly intelligent and a fairly decent fellow, and that most other Americans are quite like me.
I know that's true and you know I know.
I do know that some US citizens here feel offended by my criticisms of US foreign policy and domestic policy as it relates to global issues like climate change, food stocks and humanitarian/human rights questions such as torture and the death penalty.
Don’t try to muddy the waters here. I’m not writing about your valid criticisms of US policy.
I agree with many of your points on these issues (although the statism betrays a streak that is a bit too totalitarian for my taste)
Good. I know.
In fact, I've had some decent discussions and learned some things from people here with very different views including super-religious folks, libertarians and old-school conservatives.
Me too. (Though I'm not sure that I've learnt anything much from super-religious folks, about religion anyway.)
And most subjects discussed here are US-related or have a US dimension, so it's the US that gets the majority of my comments.
Again that is understandable.
the whole thing is meant to be positive.
I like having, as friendlyskies put it "your hot commie ass" on the board. We need a little bit of your particular brand of insanity to liven things up.
All good. Thanks.
Then let's try to get this out of the way:
The issue is that your “comments” are often shown to be ignorant stereotypes and / or factually wrong. The example that ROB brought up of your refusal to accept the figures on charitable contributions is just one of many examples.
Except that it's not true. No ignorant stereotype. Nothing factually wrong. I have never refused to accept the figures. I have never seen
any such figures. What I have said is this:
People always say that about American charitable donations, but I've never been able to find the statistics to prove it (though I have no reason to doubt it).
I do remember somewhere years ago wondering what the evidence was for the oft-repeated assertion that USanians give more than anyone else (in relation to the SE Asian tsunami, I think).
As far as I am concerned, it is an assertion (with a sense of national pride), like French people saying, "We have the best health system in the world" - but for that there have been numerous international comparative studies, which always (or nearly always) confirm it. Alternatively, you could say Luxembourg has the highest per capita income in Europe, and that would be accurate, but not a true picture, because those figures are produced by dividing the total by the number of inhabitants of Luxembourg and a high proportion of those working there don't actually live there, so the actual inhabitants aren't earning as much money as the raw figures would lead you to believe. Which is why I said that raw figures could
Without seeing any
figures why should I believe them? To compare it to something we can probably agree on, when Bush et al say, as a mantra, We do not torture, am I supposed to believe them? Otherwise, the assertion could be as hollow, for all I know, as apologists for British imperialism saying, as they do/did, we were a civilising force for good in India, "giving" them education, good governance, blah, blah, blah. Not accepting assertions without evidence is good practice, I thought. So I really don't know why you - and especially he - are bashing me for it.
I have asked ROB, who says he has seen such figures, to show me, but he has declined. I have asked him, discreetly, in a PM, so there need be no public losing face, to explain how the hypocrisy charge stands up, given that I've never criticised people's private donations and only asked for evidence to support the assertion that US citizens give more than anyone else, and he has declined to answer. I don't see what more I can do on that front. And I have to say that I don't think I'm the one failing to admit it when I'm wrong here, which is a charge often laid against me. (And on that, I might as well add that I think I acknowledge good arguments against me, admit errors, apologise for rudeness quite frequently - but because nobody then continues to rail against me, it perhaps passes widely unnoticed.)
Now this one:
for you certain countries (Venezuela and Iran are examples) seem to be totally exempt from criticism.
It may seem
that way, but it's not. There is a great deal I personally would criticise about Iran, its leadership, and especially Ahmadinejad. There's a lot I also disagree with about Chavez and his manner and policies (but nothing like as much as Iran, because I think on balance he's doing more good than harm). What I take issue with here is when the criticism seems to me to be inaccurate (and you must surely agree that a vast amount of unfounded propaganda is flung about in both cases). I think that good policy must be based on accurate assessment of the facts, and disinformation campaigns to produce public support for bad policies need to be challenged. And since nobody else will, I do. When I think the criticisms have merit, I don't challenge them: why would I need to add my voice? The discussions are already one-sided enough.
So, finally, we get down to your key point, the one about my "bigotry" re the US.
Our Negroponte discussion was a perfect example of the latter. You criticise and condemn actions as “immoral” if they are done by the US or its agents. Yet, you contend that the same actions in the same circumstances are morally just if done by other actors. This is an incoherent moral position and yet you felt the need to criticise the “moral compass” of Americans from your flimsy position.
I'd rather not go back to that one, which was a perfect example of a quagmire, where we were arguing at cross-purposes, on different ideas about morality and policy and it got us absolutely nowhere. I'll just say that it's certainly not true that I contend that the same actions in the same circumstances are OK in one case and not in another. As you surely know, I'll happily concede the immorality of British behaviour against the Mau Mau or the Boers, say, or FARC kidnapping and murder of civilians, use of land mines, etc., or Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, or Chinese support for al-Bashir, or any number of other examples. So I can see no earthly reason why I shouldn't also object to Negroponte's support for death squads in Central America (or, for that matter, the application of the "Salvador option" in Iraq).
Jäeger wrote:I won’t argue with someone who believes that anyone who happened to be born in a nation called the United States is an idiot or supporter of some evil totalitarian regime.
You know that's not true.
I feel no need to defend myself or others' overall decency against someone who’s never been here and will never come here and throws around every ignorant stereotype she can like it was a gospel truth.
You used that phrase "ignorant stereotypes" 3 times in the one post (plus "negative stereotype" in the previous), so it's obviously what most bugs you. If I'm to answer or concede it, I really need to know what you mean by it. Can you give some examples?
The other related thing that gets you is "sly digs". I can concede that I have made the odd "sly dig", usually in the middle of one of those insane flame wars there used to be, when it seemed that almost every US citizen on the board was piling in on me in rage, and I didn't always reply as judiciously as I should. But you got me worried that I must still be doing it unconsciously, so I've gone through my recent posts carefully to look. The only things I could see that could conceivably be taken as sly digs were these:
1. After Farmdog had been going on about American apple pies being the best in the world, and friendlyskies posted a picture of a McDonald's one, I said
That picture of a McDonald's apple thing quite turns my stomach: I tried one once, in extremis.
Then rickshaw suggested I try one and I replied:
I have, Mr Shaw, and it was disgusting: oily and sticky and way too sweet, with no taste of apple, which was mushy and slimy with no crunch at all. I love apple pies, but that didn't come close to qualifying even for the definition.
2. I said (at the end of a post replying to you):
Sometimes the US way isn't unquestionably the best, whatever you might think.
and the context was the teaching of comparative religion. Liam had said, “I was taught all the religions of the world (barely) when I went to school here in the USA back when I was a youngster... but no one made me pray, or wear a funny hat or participate in any rituals. We read about it in a book. Nothing more or nothing less.” My argument was that a more practical, hands-on approach was a better teaching method (so that you wouldn't get a British prime minister not knowing about the Sunni/Shi'a split, which was indeed a sly dig at Bush).
3. My comments to Woodsman about driving a vehicle that gets 8 mpg to a social event apparently about 100 miles away, plus another couple of side trips adding up to an extra 80 miles, when he apparently has other, presumably less extravagant, vehicles at his disposal, while boasting about his conservationist credentials. Maybe the board's hypocrite-in-chief has no right to say so, but that's
what I call hypocrisy.
Are they so bad? So much worse than anyone else might say, that it makes me a bigot? Think of the automatic response to almost anything anyone posts about France or the French, for comparison. I find that highly (and repeatedly) offensive, but I don't get all pissy about it. Similarly, the hatefests against "chavs" and "pikeys", which I rarely bother to intervene in, because the real bigots who do it are never going to change. I was going to write about the current controversy about Italian treatment of Roma, but decided not to precisely because all it would do is give a platform for more of the same.
But when I use the same criteria to criticise European countries, the EU or Britain, nobody seems to be offended, not US citizens, not even citizens of the country/countries concerned
If / When you use the same criteria for criticising policy that is true. However, when you criticise the policy of other nations, it usually is just a criticism of policy without the ignorant stereotypes and sly digs.
Trust me, if you start bashing the Australians, the Canadians or the French with the same single-minded vigour and persistence, I reckon you’d get the same reaction.
Until I know what the ignorant stereotypes that I constantly throw about are, I can only say that I do think my criticisms use the same criteria. As for persistence and vigour, naturally, there's hardly anything I ever want to bash Canadians with; I sometimes bash Australia (and often when there's a particular sporting rivalry going on, but ROB takes that in the spirit in which it's meant); and I have the usual English love/hate relationship with the French, but I don't think more than a handful of people here is particularly interested in what they get up to in the CAR, for instance, and they know a good deal more about it than I do, so there's not much point.
But generally, those countries aren't the "only superpower" whose foreign policies are currently fucking up the world, so why would I "bash" them with "single-minded vigour and persistence"? That's the key difference. It's the downside that comes with being a citizen of the superpower, I'm afraid, just as a century ago it was the downside that came with being British: you get bashed for what your government does, what your country represents, even though it's not personal, not against you as an individual. Tall poppy syndrome, if you like, at its most basic. But I am very conscious of that, I really don't set out to be offensive and I do try very hard to keep criticism to the level of policy. You really are going to have to show me where I don't, otherwise I'm afraid I shall carry on thinking it's a misconception on your part, or a tendency towards over-defensiveness. I will of course retract that if you can show me to be wrong.
I just meant to point out that (especially lately) the polemics and the stubborness have been getting a little bit ridiculous and over-the-top, and that you might want to think about toning it down a little.
And here was I thinking that that was exactly what I had done. Sigh.
And Stiv: I'm sorry you think the same. Perhaps you can help Jaeger show me some examples.
Shes never interfered with me. I have no complaints about her.
I met her once and I found her to be a nice lady. Not kookey in any way.
Penta has always been gracious, kind and very sane in all my interactions with her.