What we’re up against

What we’re up against

I’ve been trying to forget about the US election result on the grounds that we have to live with it and move on. But then, while clearing out some old newspapers and magazines this morning, I came on Andrew O’Hagan’s wonderful report from the Republican Convention in the London Review of Books. Here’s the passage that really depressed me:

“A certain mica sparkled through the atmosphere of the Republican National Convention: it was the notion that a lack of patriotism was the enemy of democracy, that a love of nuance was a brand of elitism, and that being proud of your country was the only strength that mattered in foreign relations. In this same atmosphere – pungent with intolerance – the notion prevails that foreigners hate America not for its actions but for its values, its ‘way of life’. When people speak of American imperialism this is what they more often mean: not the corrupting, internecine dealings of Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, the cronyist, Saudi-protecting demeanour of the Texas oil barons, shocking though all that is, but the everyday self-certainty that makes America a fighting force against other cultures and ways of life. The delegates have breathed a lot of this stuff into their lungs in recent years, but they wanted more. ‘The Muslims just hate us for our love of freedom,’ said a woman from Iowa wearing a cloth elephant on her head. ‘They don’t have any culture and they hate us for having a great one. And they hate the Bible.’

‘Really?’ I said. ‘The Iraqis had a culture for thousands of years before Jesus was born.’

‘What you saying?’

‘I’m saying Muslims were building temples when New York was a swamp.’

‘You support the Iraqis?’


‘You support the killing of innocent people going to work? People who have to jump out of windows?’

‘You aren’t listening to me.’

‘No, buddy. You ain’t listening. These people you support are trying to kill our children in their beds. Where you from anyway, the New York Times?'”