The Worst Imperialist?

Although I find much about our government’s MO to be objectionable, I also find Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ characterisation of the US as the ‘worst’ imperialist amusing and not a little disingenuous.

His idea that the US "wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday" shows a good deal of historical amnesia.  Same amnesia also pervades the following:

He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.

The UK also had a divine component about its mission, one that included the state church sending missionaries to every colony it conquered.  Today those missions are the Anglican Communion that is giving Williams such a headache about same-sex relationships and other matters.  Perhaps his secret wish is that the UK hadn’t gone on its imperial binge, which would simplify his present job.

The blunt truth of the matter is that the English-speaking peoples are masters at myth-making about their own place and purpose in the world.  If Americans are exceptionalists, we got our start in the old country, as I pointed out in To Do The Work.  And, as far as combining moral certainty of speech with turpitude of action, they used to say that Britain ruled the waves, but on occasion waived the rules.

On a more personal note, I’ve known people over the years from former British colonies, and very few of them have a lot of good to say about British rule.  (That’s especially true of the Muslims.)  In some ways, Anglomania is most enthusiastically practised in the US, which had the good sense to leave the British Empire rather than wait for the mother country to get around to granting our independence.

Finally, the Archbishop has conveniently waited until dollar hegemony went into decline, making his comments a "kicking us while we’re down" kind of thing.  But if he and reappraisers in the US ever hope to make their "tolerant" agenda stick on a global basis, they will find it nearly impossible without dollar and other US-backed hegemony.  The EU simply doesn’t have the will to take up the slack and the rest of the world, Christian and otherwise, isn’t sympathetic to it.

Rowan Williams better hope he’s wrong on this one.

Note: after this, I noted the appearance of Ruth Gledhill’s posting, Why we should all love America.  I can’t agree with the entire list but it’s good to know we have a few friends.

One Reply to “The Worst Imperialist?”

  1. I agree, I found his comments to be very unwise in all honesty. And I, in general, had a favorable view of him as a leader and individuals. Such is no longer the case.

    Especially disappointing was that he unleashed his invective against the USA while soft-peddling Islamic imperialism. And make no mistake about it, Islam is a a permanently and profoundly imperialistic civilization. (Read Islamic Imperialism by Ephraim Karsh for more.)

    Indeed, the UK right now is being colonized by Islam. How ironic that he should complain about the USA.


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