Politics & Policy

Bad Sports

A patriotic media man takes the anti-American crowd on.

Soccer has been known to inflame many fans’ national passions, but a game last February in Guadalajara, Mexico, takes the prize. There, the U.S. team lost to Mexico in the Olympic men’s qualifying soccer match, and was met with a stunning display of “sportsmanship”: The Mexican fans–delirious with victory–celebrated with biting cries of “OSAMA! OSAMA!”

Can such hateful anti-Americanism–from a very well-treated neighbor, no less–be dismissed as a disproportional response to a sport notoriously emotive the world over? Perhaps.

John Gibson, however, would probably disagree. In his view, such hateful anti-Americanism is the world’s favorite sport.

This, at least, is the premise of his newly released Hating America: The New World Sport. In it Gibson–host of The Big Story on the Fox News Channel–details the extent to which, in a post-9/11 world, irrational anti-Americanism is the tie that binds the “international community”: Germany with France, Belgium with South Korea, Canada with the “Arab Street.”

PLAYING FOR THE RED, WHITE & BLUE

Gibson’s account is marked by a frank, pull-no-punches style. In a discussion of the “Axis of Envy” (nations whose bitter invectives Gibson ascribes to the frustration of utter inconsequence), he writes: “Without the reins of international justice, Belgium is no more than Nova Scotia: pleasant, cold, and completely irrelevant.”

When it comes to Canada herself, Gibson makes sure to remind the reader that “at a peewee hockey game on the northern side of the border the little visiting U.S. players–children–were subjected to outright abuse by their Canadian hosts”; that “youngsters…had to watch the American flag burned; ordinary Canadians on the street flashed the kids a familiar obscene gesture.” Gibson summarizes Canada’s anguish during the run-up to Iraq neatly: “In trying desperately to avoid becoming America’s ‘Mini-me,’ Canada stumbled disastrously, and became France’s Mini-moi.”

Speaking of the devil: France’s treachery, of course, receives an entire chapter (it could use at least an entire book)–and, indeed, the first chapter, making France the standard-bearer for the parade of America haters Gibson chronicles.

That chronicle is likely to irk the politically correct elite, as it is unashamedly pro-American, and does not couch its criticism of anti-U.S. activity in relativistic, feel-good, “multilateralist” language. Perhaps this is why Publishers Weekly, for example, called it a “rancorous manifesto,” and whined, “Gibson’s truculent tone…will alienate readers who aren’t already predisposed to his views, and might be perceived as another fine example of American belligerence.”

Gibson’s feathers, however, are unruffled: “I knew there was going to be a bad reaction in some quarters. Look, this is a defiant book. Some people would argue that I’m being unreasonable, and I’d say, ‘Yeah, probably.’”

Deference aside, there’s nothing “unreasonable” in Hating America–unless, of course, you think open, factual record qualifies. As Gibson maintains, “They [America-haters] write this in the public press for all to see, and Americans should know what’s being said about them.”

“This is such a scandalous thing that a lot of people don’t want to admit that it’s happening–especially the Europeans. They don’t like to admit to this, but then again, they write it. Out in public. I didn’t go traveling around Europe writing things down; I got on the Internet and read this stuff.” Ruefully, he observes, “The worst things being said about America today and about the last few years are being said by our friends, not our enemies.”

The book, he says, is meant to alert Americans: “Guess what your friends are saying about you?”

RED-AMERICAN JOHN

While Americans should be aware of what’s being said about them, Gibson asserts that in Middle America, international opinion doesn’t count for all that much. “I drive across the country all the time, and you don’t hear people out there wondering, ‘What are we gonna do about Germany?’”

When it comes to red-state American opinion, Gibson’s in the know. Although he was born and was raised in California, and currently works in New York, he spends as much time as possible on his ranch in Texas, where he and his wife raise horses. (Immediately after finishing the book Gibson returned to his equine friends, only to be thrown by one of them, landing him in a wheelchair for four months with a broken pelvis and cracked ribs. He’s only just back on his feet now.)

Regarding Texas ranches, Gibson says with a smile about George W. Bush’s: “You know, I’ve never seen the place, but he’s got the right idea. 1,800 acres in Texas is a very good idea.”

“I think it’s Real America,” he adds.

Gibson’s admiration for Bush stems from more than a shared love of Texas ranch life, and, indeed, the president receives an entire chapter in Hating America (“All the World Despises George W. Bush”). In Bush’s defense, Gibson writes, “Americans recognize him as distinctly one of their own, a man who takes his job seriously, does it well, and is focused on what he and much of the country believe must be done.”

In Gibson’s mind, Bush’s international detractors hate him both personally and as a representative of what they consider the “worst” of America. “They just do not like this guy for everything he is. They criticize the way he walks, the way he talks; they criticize the state he’s from; they criticize his religion–that he was the governor that presided over how many executions? You can buy a gun in the state where he was governor? The state where he was governor is loaded with Christians? These are all things that these people hate.”

Of course, Bush hatred is not reserved for foreigners: There are plenty here who despise his perceived unilateralism, such that, as Gibson concedes, “The election could go Kerry’s way. I could see the war costing Bush his job–it could happen.”

If it does, however, Gibson conjectures: “I will go out on a huge limb and say that I don’t believe that a President Kerry (or a President Clinton), faced with a post-9/11 situation–what George Bush [faced]–would do anything appreciably different than Bush did. I just don’t. If we got hit like 9/11, and John Kerry was president, I think he’d do the same thing…. I think what Bush did was duty calling an American president, whatever his political stripe.”

Whatever a reader’s political stripe, he should find Hating America a useful account of the international response to the war on terror. It is a handy primer on global opinion in the 9/12 world, compiled by a courageous, spunky, resilient journalist who spends his time loving America.

Meghan Clyne is an NR associate editor.

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