Anti-Americanism comes in different varieties. Speak to Europeans who dislike the United States, and they point to what they see as the evils of conservative America: a shoot-first, ask-questions-later cowboy in the White House, Bible-toting fundamentalists walking around the corridors of power. Speak to Muslims who are hostile to America, however, and the typical complaint is very different. Many Muslims point to what they view as the horrors of liberal America: homosexual marriage, family breakdown, and a popular culture that is trivial, materialistic, vulgar, and in many cases morally repulsive. So while many secular Europeans abhor "red America," many religious Muslims dislike and fear "blue America."
Both the Europeans and the Muslims, of course, are only seeing one side of America. They are reacting not so much to "America" as to projections of American policy and American culture across the globe. We in the U.S. know that there is a difference between American popular culture and the way that Americans actually live. But foreigners cannot be expected to know this. The America that they see in the movies and on television is often the only America they know.
We have heard a great deal from critics of globalization about how the United States is corrupting the world with its multinational corporations and its trade practices. But world opinion surveys by the Pew Research Center and other groups show that non-Western peoples are generally pleased with American products. In fact, the people of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East want more American companies, more American technology, and more free trade. Their objection is not to McDonalds or Microsoft but to America's cultural values as transmitted through movies, television and music.
Huge majorities of more than 80 percent of people in Indonesia, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, and Turkey say they want to protect their values from foreign assault. The Pew study concludes that there is a "widespread sense" that American values, often presented as the values of modernity itself, "represent a major threat to people's traditional way of life." These sentiments are felt very keenly in the Muslim world. As an Iranian from Neishapour told journalist Afshin Molavi, "People say we want freedom. You know what these foreign-inspired people want? They want the freedom to gamble and drink and bring vice to our Muslim land. This is the kind of freedom they want."
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