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Don’t let anti-Americanism cloud sound judgment

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The story was repeated in dozens of Scandinavian newspapers: Bush bans CD featuring Swede Eva Dahlgren.

The US administration had, the stories claimed, banned the album ‘Lullabies from the Axis of Evil’, featuring artists from countries such as Iran and North Korea. The record and the record company, it was said, had been put on an official ‘blacklist’ by the federal government.

The only problem with this story: it was entirely false. As the US ambassador in Norway said, the American constitution protects freedom of speech. In fact, while the ‘War on Terror’ has led to some restrictions on personal freedom, the US still has more comprehensive protection for freedom of speech than many other western democracies. American administrations don’t keep lists of banned music.

Why, then, did so many journalists fall for this obviously fake story? Why did nobody smell a rat? Search the Internet for other examples of music banned in the United States, and the lack of evidence of a blacklist should should be enough to sow doubts. A call to the US Embassy in Stockholm would probably have confirmed these doubts.

The fact that this didn’t happen was partly down to journalistic laziness (and all journalists get lazy sometimes). Maybe the journalists in question were also afraid to look too deeply into this interesting story, in case the truth got in the way.

But it also seems that the Iraq war and the general anti-American sentiment of the past few years have poisoned opinion to such an extent that many have trouble distinguishing fact from a very obvious example of pure fiction.

30 Responses to “Don’t let anti-Americanism cloud sound judgment”

  1. Igor Trisic Says:

    Couldn’t agree more

  2. Mikael Says:

    Looks good as finaly someone has felt that how it feels when a wrong story is projected about ones country.

  3. Rami Says:

    Very interesting post, thanks for the comment. The US Freedom of the Press right is quite a remarkable doctorine, I wish that the US would consider it part of their foreign aid requirements that developing countries, particularly in the Middle East, enforce similar laws. That would be a true act of spreading democracy.

  4. Ryan Potter Says:

    Mikael, Americans are well aware how it feels when false stories are projected, unfortunately the European press makes that a fact of life. The real shame lies in journalists who claim to have some sort higher of ethics guiding their behavior, when in reality they write in large part to promote their own agenda rather than inform the public with unbiased reporting.

  5. Dan Says:

    I too agree with Ryan. Mikael, we all know how much we’re hated throughout the world. But when was the last time the American press published a work on a foreign country’s government policies which was so terribly slanted? You might want to think before posting.

  6. Sven Says:

    Er, that was irony, right? There’s quite a lot of bias in the American press when viewed with European eyes. For extreme examples, look at the coverage of Cuba or Iraq. If by “foreign country” you meant “industrialised, Western, capitalist democracy”, then the coverage of France should do.

    Obviously this story was a silly mistake(and the person who forged it almost certainly did it to make some sort of political statement), but let’s not throw stones when we’re in glass houses.

  7. George Says:

    I lay the blame for the hatred aimed at America and Americans by citizens and the media of other countries at the feet of those Americans who lash out at President Bush, at home and abroad, for winning the election in 2000.Plain and simple!

    For seven years hatred has been spewed out by those who have the right to speak freely in this country.

    The biased mainstream media has picked up this hatred of our President and broadcasts the bitter hatred to the rest of the world, loud and clear.

    Not knowing all the issues in our country, people in other countries pick up on the vile hatred hurled at our President on a daily basis and jump on the band wagon.

    It is easier to join what they see as “The Crowd” rather than go against the grain and seek out what the facts really are before making judgements.

    In America today, you can not turn on a TV News Station, or pick up a Newspaper, or listen to late night comedian wannabes, or read a weekly news magazine, or even watch a movie without being aware of the hatred aimed at our President.

    So, people in other countries echo what they see and hear in our own media.

    They don’t like Americans.We don’t have to look at other countries to see that.We are overwhelmed with it right here at home!

  8. Jack Says:

    Yeah, shoddy reporting… I am an American, and I can assure you, there is no government list of banned music or songs (at least not yet!). They seem to be clamping down though, who knows what’s next? The majority of the American people don’t want the Iraq war to go on much longer and oppose Bush’s plans for the middle east (that’s why they resoundingly un-elected a bunch of Republicans in November 06). Unfortunately, the Democrats aren’t there to help either as Pelosi (the House Democrat leader) says impeaching Bush is “off the table”, Obama (a 2008 Democratic prez hopeful) advocates bombing Iran and Hillary Clinton (another prez frontrunner) says no option for dealing with Iran is “off the table” (including military) and refuses to appologise for voting for the Iraq war the first time! The American people are slowly starting to figure it out (I think) that neither major party has the guts to put a stop to this insanity. It might all change though, if there is another “terrorist attack” on US soil that stirs up a “patriotic” call to bomb Iran (because the attack will surely be blamed on Iran no matter who perpetrated it). Sad but true. Don’t fall for it people! The Muslim world doesn’t want this war. Think about it… why would they do the one thing that is sure to bring it on? (answer: THEY wouldn’t, but the ones who want the war WOULD)

    And just for “George”, you speak as if FOX News has some sort of “left wing” bias!!! You might find it worthwhile to read the quote from a former US President:

    “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” — Teddy Roosevelt

  9. Eric Says:

    To George, my dear Republican shill–

    Bush did not “win” the election–the simple fact is that he lost the popular vote and his appointment to the presidency was by the Supreme Court. Beyond those facts, everything else is open to interpretation.

    If you read something besides the Washington Times or listened to a radio host besides Rush Limbaugh, you might perhaps have heard some of this. But oh yes, these other contrasting viewpoints are expressed by the poisoned “mainstream media”.

    But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and I would ask that you read some publications that aren’t endorsed by the RNC with an open mind. I suffer through the muck and mire that you consider “responsible journalism” and would hope that you might pay me and YOUR fellow Americans a similar service.

    Bottom line–there are biases in everything. But you use the same fallacious reasoning you accuse the media with to crucify those of us who are non-Bush believers.

  10. George Says:

    Did you just skip over this passage in my response?

    “For seven years hatred has been spewed out by those who have the right to speak freely in this country.”

    Concerning FOX, or any other outlets of the MSM I am able to think indepently of any of their biased news on either side of an issue.

    I do not need them to tell me how to think.

  11. George Says:

    “the simple fact is that he lost the popular vote and his appointment to the presidency was by the Supreme Court”

    Your writing this simple sentence says to the world, loud and clear, that you have no knowledge of the way our system works. The Electoral College elects the President of the United States, not a popularity contest.

    Get back to me when you get an education about how a Democratic Republic works, won’t you?

  12. Randy Says:

    It is real simple, the reason for this story, increase sales of the album. Once the story hit the American press – FOX and others I bet sales went up. In fact my next computer action is to go on line to Amazon and buy it ;-)

    As for George’s comments about Americans being hated, I just don’t see it. They may not like our warmongering approach to all international problems, but that is a policy of the current administration only. I digress. Back to they all hate us. Over my life, 28 years in the Navy and now for the last 14 years business traveling to countries such as Japan, China, Sweden, Russia, Mexico, Canada, to name only a few I find most people in these countries on one to one rather like us. (My favorite is Sweden – Gothenberg, Karlstad and of course Stockholm.)

  13. Katrineholm Review Says:

    In the USA, freedom of speech is so prized that even ‘if’ an album were banned, rest assured there would be plenty of lawyers ready to step up and challenge such a ban in court.

    Lastly, while many people complain about the USA’s interventionist policies, there are also people from the countires in which the USA intervenes in which the USA’s interventionism is welcome.

  14. Eric Says:

    George–

    Your namesake was most definitely “appointed” to the presidency due to the Supreme Court’s decision. Of course he was officially elected by the Electoral College, but that could not have occurred without the Supreme Court intervention.

    Incidentally, since you’re apparently so open to reading news sources besides the Limbaugh Letter, there’s an excellent article in Vanity Fair in which the clerks of the Supreme Court justices were interviewed. The decision in Bush v. Gore was in fact partially written before the case was even heard, in memoranda that were passed back and forth between Scalia, et al.

  15. BLUE BOY Says:

    Actually, in every recount, Bush won Florida and therefore the electoral college. Therefore, even if Gore had won the case, and they had allowed another recount, Bush would have won. In fact, under current law, there is no possible way Gore could have won the election. Sorry to burst any bubbles…

  16. Mike H. Says:

    Eric, the next time we are about to elect someone you don’t like we’ll just shoot them. Would that be alright? We understand that you treasure liberty but we also understand that the liberty that you don’t like should be dwestroyed completely. So just pass us a line on the ones that you want destroyed. Oh and try not to believe the NYTimes, they said the 2000 count was legitimate. So just ignore them. BTW, what kind of salute do you want bro?

  17. sushi Says:

    Pathetic.

    What sort of conspiracy/strawman wankfest next –

    “America invented rock n roll so that they could ban it when it politically expedient” ?

  18. Rami Says:

    I think that the term ‘anti-american’ is stretchable and can be open for arbitary interpretation. While I think the majority of the world’s population is anti American foreign policy (warmongering, inequal stance in world trade talks, global warming, corporate imperialism, double standards in middle east.. hundreds of other reasons), I think the same people would not be ‘anti-american’ in the sence that they do not like americans.

    Take this example: there’s no place where US politicians are as despised as in the middle east (even in ally countries), however, people in that particular region are extermely open and friendly towards americans (many of them want to become american themselves, politically and culturally).

    In certain european countries, anti-americanism means to stop the influence of american corporate/pop culture against the local culture….any other interpretations?

  19. Ben Porter Says:

    The US watched mass murder in the Balkans for years while Europe did nothing but whine and diddle. I’ve seen anti-US demonstrations during every Presidency since Eisenhower, so don’t tell me its the present President. It engraved on the bones of many Europeans. Thank God, my ancestors knew when to leave.

  20. Maggie Says:

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

    Citizenry across Europe, across the world, continue to imitate Americans in their taste for food, fashion, and music.

    No country is actually living the coming together of the world’s nations except for the US. We are truly a melting pot. Name a country, and I will show you an American citizen.

    Old Europe doesn’t want a “melting pot” but wish to hold on to their original identities.

    Try as they might to counterbalance the US in power with the formation of a European Union, Old Europe is not ready or willing to relinguish their own power, their own national interests, their unique identities. Hence, the rejection of the EU constitution. The indefinite postponing of scheduled referendums.

    Europe wants what America has but their own selfishness prevents them from achieving their goals.

    They attack what they lack.

  21. Braycolm Says:

    The assumption that American right wringers hold that Europe is full of Anti Americanism is wrong. America is much respected and admired especailly for it’s freedom of speech.It is only when American Goverments (not people) denies the same rights to foreign countries that some Europeans feel oblige to voice concern.America’s long history of interfering in Latin America, displacing democratically electd govrments; Its support for civil rights abusing unelected goverments in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait causes much concern in Europe.

  22. Ryan Potter Says:

    The assumption that Europe is full of Anti-Americanism is easily proved by living in Sweden a few years. My observation is that most Europeans ignore their own problems by finding someone else to criticize.

    Coming from a southern state in the US I always get an earful when it comes to racism. However, I never observed during my worklife in the US, the widespread discrimination I find in Sweden, which makes it necessary for people with non-Swedish names to send three times as many CVs to find a job than the average Svensson.

    Environment is another area where Europe would rather sign a treaty and talk than take action. No one will argue that the US needs to do more, but I don’t see any European countries taking the lead in reducing automotive greenhouse emmissions by promoting hybrid technology through banning other types of personal transportation in cities or removing sales tax for hybrids.

    It’s good to know that European houses aren’t built of glass…

  23. CM Says:

    Braycolm said: “It is only when American Goverments (not people) denies the same rights to foreign countries that some Europeans feel oblige to voice concern.”

    Is this the same Europe that trades with Iran and Cuba, both contain impeccable human rights records? Is this the same Europe that picks and chooses when they want the US to intervene, such as the Balkans and Sudan; however it sits on its hands when a coalition of their countries can do the same job? Is this the same Europe that still interferes with their supposably free former colonies, such as Guinea, Rwanda (didn’t France support the Habayarima government), the Ivory Coast, Central African Republic? Is this the same Europe that complains that the US does not give enough money to the rest of the world in aid, even though the US singlehandedly funded the UN and its aid programs for decades plus US citizens personally donate the same amount of more than the US government spends in aid (and if you combine the personal donations and tax money from US citizens, it gives more aid than all other countries combined the last time I checked)? Is this the same Europe that complains about the US action in Iraq to remove Saddam, a sitting mass-murderer of 100s of thousands of people, but the same Europe that was more concerned with Pinochet, a deposed exiled despot responsible for the disappearance of 3000? Is this the same Europe that has government own media that controls what can and cannot be broadcast, including news, and wants to crack down on the internet by handing over control to the UN (where undoubtedly China and Russia will have be able to control it with their veto power)? Is this the same Europe that makes up the majority of arms sellers in the world when you actually look at the stats by SIPRI?

    I get it. America doesn’t always live up to its ideals. However, I do not see Europeans living up to the same ideals either. We thank you for pointing out some of our hypocrisies from the past so we can correct them, such as slavery. However, bad foreign policy decisions and doing things in the name of greed and self-interest are as rife in Europe as they are in the US…and dare I say maybe even more so. Is this the fault of the average citizen of Europe or the elites and government officials of Europe? I cannot answer that. However if any of the subjects mentioned above hit close to home, I ask that you see if you can do something about it.

  24. Braycolm Says:

    There is of course a difference in trading with righs abusing countries (immoral yes) and invading another country( illegal).Many French people opposed their goverment’s support of Habayarima;they even protested on the street about it. Luckily, they could do this without being accused of being Anti French.There were thousands out on the streets of London in Nov 2005 protesting about the arms sales conference there. Again I do not recall reading that these protestors were Anti British.
    As for America single handely fiancing the UN for decades, we must read different history books. I can find no evidence to support that claim.Strange!!

  25. Celso Says:

    “The only justification for subjecting opinion to coercion is to produce uniformity, which succeeds only in making half the world fools and the other half hypocrites”
    Censorship and cover up in favor of an enemy, Muslims Terrorism, that is transforming your country, is the ultimate surrender. Your fate is sealed.

  26. Delon Says:

    False are many stories told about the USA.
    Well, false were too, according to liberals and fellow travelers the stories of the attrocities committed by commorade Stalin in and out of his Gulags. Early in the “red game” there was no CIA, thus the European Reds following the usual instructions from their masters in the Kremlin claimed that the killings committed by their Red masters were fabrications of the British and German imperialisms. Mr. Gorbachov opened that sewer of crime, the KGB archives, since 1989 and now it resulted in, that the stories told were not only TRUE but that they actually fell short in quantity and sadism of the crimes committed by the Red dictatorship.
    CHEKA,GPU,OGPU,NKVD,SMEER and KGB, the names changed with the times, but the crimes were the same in length and depth. The same killer dogs; different collars!
    Some don’t even question yet why, workers, students et all in all those countries in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union did not go out to the street to defend those “paradises” when the Berlin Wall was being taken off that fateful night of 9 to 10 November, 1989. One thing it is to live withing the monster, they other the chatting at the Paris cafés. Like in Cuba and North Korea, Newton’s laws of opticts break down for these societies, look greater in the distance!

  27. Delon Says:

    The day the French did not say “Yankees go Home”, but “Help! Help!Please send us more boys” !!!
    ¡¡¡June 4,1944!!!
    and I say: MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  28. Delon Says:

    Oh! what an awfull thing. SORRY people
    let us make it rather june the 6th!

  29. Clifford Decker Says:

    I was searching for something else when I came upon this particular issue of The Local, the newspaper of which I read daily on the internet, and I find the remarks here about bush and Sweden a bit distant from the reality of 1 June 2009. which will fall in two days.

    bush was appointed by a stacked right-wing Supreme Court, period. He lost the popular vote.
    He should never have become president in 2000, or in 2004 with the stink hanging over him from Florida.

    He is now being given, rightfully so, the full credit for the imploding world and United States markets and the world-wide Depression.

    As for Sweden, should you find that your name and the area from which you originated in the States, causes you problems in Sweden, what are you doing living and working in Sweden?

    I have Swedish ancestry, 1/2, and my name would fit right in, (not this cyberspace name) because in Halland, where our family roots are, there are towns with hundreds with the same name.

    That, as far as I am concerned, is the way that things should be in all events.

    I won’t endear myself to many Swedes in Sweden when I say that there are way too many people living there who are not of Swedish ancestry, who have never had roots in Swedish culture and mores, and the less of them who are in Sweden, the better.

    I do not include Norwegians, Danes, Finns, or ahy of the Sami, or those of other Scandinavian or Germanic ancestries, among the group who I believe do not have any business living in Sweden. They fit in without a problem.

  30. Vincent Okoth Says:

    I totally agree with Clifford Decker’s analysis (the above reply).

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