Dr. Thomas Swan studied cognition and culture at Queen's University Belfast. He enjoys exploring the interplay between politics and culture.
There are a number of reasons why people dislike America, and even more interpretations for why this hatred exists. Many Americans believe the hatred manifests because others are jealous of their freedom and wealth. If you’re not American, then it's probably comments like this that make you dislike them!
There is a certain arrogance that pervades much of American culture. It is fueled by patriotism and maintained by a basic need for self-worth. Being American is an identity to cling on to; it is something to be proud of in a culture where self-worth typically depends on how often you are on television.
America takes globalized culture to its extreme, and as a result, it is furthest from the world our ancestors lived in. Before television and the internet, we lived in small communities where having a skill meant something. If you were the best hunter, farmer or shopkeeper then you were valued for your skill. To be valued in today’s world you have to compete with half the country, and when the majority of us fail to reach the pinnacle of success, the cream of the crop are blasted into our eyes and ears via The Apprentice, X Factor, University Challenge, the Oscars, or whatever celebrity magazine you happen to be reading. Is it any wonder that depression is on the rise?
More than any other nation, Americans have a need for self-worth, and patriotism is a well-established means to this end. Patriotism will fuel an emotional retaliation against any national criticism, and this often leads to the kind of nonsensical jealousy argument mentioned earlier.
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Yet there is a problem with this explanation. Why do people who have never conversed with an American espouse the same hatred? Why do Muslims burn American flags? One might think it’s because they hate the Christian religion, but Muslims live quite happily alongside Jews and Christians in their own countries. A little known fact is Iran has the second highest population of Jews in the Middle East after Israel.
The Real Reason Why People Hate the US
The answer lies in America’s global history of intervention and interference. People such as Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi were undoubtedly responsible for some atrocious acts, and many believe that regime change was rightly forced upon those countries. However, the US government's history of foreign interference goes well beyond this century, and well beyond controversial characters. In fact, America has toppled many publicly-supported democratic governments around the world, and this has traditionally been instigated through the exploits of the CIA. After WW2 the CIA committed acts of assassination and torture, and replaced democracies with dictatorships in countries all over the world for more than 30 years. The justification was often that the Soviets had influence over the country, but in many cases there was little or no evidence to back up this claim. Regardless, it is little comfort to the millions who died, or the millions who lived without the freedom that America treasures so much within its own borders.
America's International Crimes
Countries that suffered at the hands of the US government include Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Laos, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay and Vietnam; and these are only the countries for which substantial public information is available. To view the details of these crimes, please watch the video linked below.
An interesting inclusion is Iran. The Iranian revolution took place in 1979 to remove a dictator the US government had installed and supported for 25 years. This installation occurred after the CIA engineered the downfall of a democratic government in Iran. Before the revolution, the Iranian people suffered oppression, torture and death as a result of CIA interference in their country. In light of this historical evidence, one would expect Westerners to be a little more understanding of Iranian antagonism and mistrust, and yet, we continue to condemn them as irrational, intolerant and deceitful. History requires them to forgive us, not the other way around, and unless we realize this, the Iranians will probably never trust us again.
In summary, there are many reasons to dislike America. Unless the population understands the harm their leaders have inflicted on the world, the violent variety of dislike will continue. Unless the population understands that patriotism is not required to bolster their ego, the passive variety of dislike will continue. Foreigners are not blameless either. The actions of the US government are not the actions of its people, and we should do better not to generalise, especially as the government is eager to cover up its dark history. Furthermore, it is difficult for a child brought up in America to avoid patriotism when they are bombarded with US flags and pledges of allegiance from an early age. This cycle of indoctrination is difficult to stop, and difficult to blame on anyone alive today.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.