Where Does the Impulse to Vilify America and the West Come From?

When I first took up my teaching post in 1968, a bright undergraduate said to me, “North American culture is the most corrupt in the world.” I was rather shocked to hear this, having just returned from a year of ethnographic research in the Middle East, where arguably there are many more serious problems. The only reply I could manage was, “Where else have you been?” Of course, he had not been anywhere else.

But my student had imbibed one of the themes of the 1960s counter culture, that Western culture had gone wrong. The counter-culture rebellion that saw many young people smoking dope,  “dropping out,” returning to the land, joining communes and cults, was the result of the confluence of at least two cultural trends: One was the rejection of post-war bourgeois order and work by those set free from want by a prosperity never before seen. The United States and Canada were, after all, the only countries still standing after World War II and had a monopoly over post-war industry. The other trend was the increasing opposition to the Vietnam war, and the unwillingness of young people to fight it. Many went into hiding or fled across borders to avoid the draft. Opponents to the war often sided with the opposition, the paradigmatic figure being “Hanoi” Jane Fonda. To some, Ho Chi Min, Mao, and Che, and their communist ideology became friendly symbols of opposition to the war.

One of the great post-war influences was the idea of “cultural relativism,” first articulated in the 1930s by foundational anthropologist Franz Boas and his student Ruth Benedict. Instead of judging other cultures in terms of one’s own values, the anthropologist should suspend his or her own value perspective in order to understand the world in terms of the culture studied. This approach was later called by Clifford Geertz, “from the native’s point of view.” The point was to get a better understanding of other cultures.

[College Summer Reading: A Mandated Dive Into ‘Oppressed Minorities’]

But the idea of cultural relativism did not remain static. Rather, it was taken up and expanded to mean moral relativism, in which someone from one culture cannot make a valid moral judgment about someone or a culture with a different morality. In 1946, the American Anthropological Association went so far as to reject the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it reflected Western values and was thus ethnocentric. Then relativity was expanded to epistemological relativity, which means that a way of knowing in one culture is not more valid than a different way of knowing in another culture. Thus, for example, science is deemed to have no more validity than individual subjectivity, or prophets, or witchcraft doctors, or chicken oracles. Cultural relativism was a major step in undermining our cultural basis for judgment


The counter culture of teenagers smoking dope, “dropping out,” heading off to communes, and demonstrating against the war was but a minor ripple compared to the transformational tsunami of feminism. The Women’s Movement of the 1960s, consequent to the arrival of the birth control pill, modestly strove for equality for females. This seemed entirely reasonable to many because equality is one of the central values of American culture. But in less than a decade, the Women’s Movement became second-wave Feminism. Along with a change in label came a change in orientation, from striving for a universal value to partisanship on behalf of females vis a vis males. Quickly that feminist partisanship became female supremacism and a war against men. Some feminists contemplated a world without men, and the means to achieve that. Men were characterized not as supportive fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons, employers, and mentors, and fellow citizens, but as insensitive, brutal, toxic, and evil. The most recent slogans of feminism are “men are trash,” now set to music, and “kill all men,” also set to music.

[When Feminist Ideology Trumps Science]

Feminist ideology was systematized in proliferating “women’s studies” programs, which provided full-time feminist propaganda in colleges and universities, including the education faculties that trained school teachers, who were mostly females. Feminist ideology generated feminist strategies, which included special consideration and benefits for females. For example, women were to be given preferences in college and university admissions, in employment, and in government, as well as disputes over child custody. Feminist law professors championed laws benefitting females, at the expense of males, such as redefining both undesired advances and violent rape as “sexual assault.” Feminists argued that any consensual sexual congress that a female regretted was rape. Males, as always, hoping to curry favor with females, supported or remained silent about the feminist attacks on equality and fairness.

The feminist view of American culture ignored its basic values of freedom, equality, and democracy, claiming that American culture was a “rape culture.” Nor was American society deemed to be one of free citizens enjoying equality of opportunity to gain standing and prosperity. Rather, feminists adopted the Marxist model of society featuring a hierarchy of classes in which the higher class exploits and oppresses the lower classes. Feminists exchanged the Marxist economic classes with sex classes, the male patriarchy oppressing the subordinate females, discriminating against females at every opportunity. The alleged sexist American society was thus characterized as fundamentally unjust and corrupt, and salvageable only through the overthrow of the patriarchy and its replacement by feminist supremacy. As females make up half of all Americans and half of all voters, a movement claiming to represent all women could not be ignored, and, as we have seen, could not be resisted.

Race, Sexual Preference, Gender Preference, Indigeneity

The Marxist feminist model of American culture and society was quickly adopted by minorities aiming to improve their positions by claiming victimhood. African American activists replaced the feminists’ claims of sexism with racism, and patriarchy with white supremacism. Black Lives Matter’s fevered accusations that there is open season on African Americans by white police and white mobs portrayed American racism and thus American culture and society as homicidal and genocidal. And African American activists and their enablers point to the slavery of Africans 150 years previous as the fundamental characteristic of America.

The campaign of homosexuals, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and other varieties, for acceptance and equal legal status framed American culture as heteronormative, and bigoted against LGB++ individuals. It, too, adopted the Marxist model, with heteronormative oppressors and LGB++ victims. Trans activists claim to be victims of oppression by the biologically literate, and demand that they could be whatever sex they wanted to be, and that this become sanctioned by law.

Native American and Canadian First Nations activists claim to be victims of non-natives. In the U.S., Native Americans tend to be patriotic and moderate, and, notwithstanding a few activists, have not initiated a popular identity political movement. In contrast, in Canada, First Nations activists characterize Euro- and Asian-Canadians as “colonial settlers,” who are obliged to provide massive monetary and ongoing compensation for all past misdeeds and to return ownership of all of Canada to the First Nations, notwithstanding previous treaty agreements. The First Nations furthermore expect to have status as equals to the Government of Canada, but to live under beneficial laws distinct from those of the Canadian colonial settlers. As well, Indigenous Canadians claim that they, especially females, are abused and murdered at a shockingly high rate.

[What the New York Times Got Wrong About Slavery in America]

All of these minorities claim discrimination against them because of their origin or characteristics and identity. As proof, they point to “underrepresentation” in relation to their percentage of the population. Their argument is that in every field or organization, they should be represented at least in the same percentage as their percentage in the general population. The cover label for this demand is “diversity and inclusion.” The justification is labeled “social justice.”

These claims reinforce the Marxist identity politics vision of America as a bigoted, sexist, racist, oppressive society run by evil white male supremacists. The white majority is thus regarded as tainted, and the rights of individual members of the white majority are disregarded in favor of benefits for the “underrepresented.”

Problematical Claims

Many of the claims of feminists and minority activists are not supported by the facts. For example, the central argument is that any category of people who are “underrepresented” in an organization in relation to their percentage of the population are underrepresented due to gender, racial, sexual discrimination. But we know this to be false because two unpopular minorities, East Asians and Jews, are highly overrepresented in prestigious academic and professional occupations. As well, while African Americans are highly underrepresented and low in income, black West Africans and Caribbean blacks are highly successful educationally and economically in comparison to the majority, which claims of racial prejudice cannot explain. But alternative explanations, never considered by “social justice” advocates, can explain the discrepancies.

The central problem for African Americans is not racial discrimination but poor performance due to a weak family structure, with 70% of African American families being single parents, usually mothers. African American children raised in two-parent families do remarkably better, pretty much at the same average level as other Americans. In other words, the cause of African American underrepresentation and underperformance is African American culture, not racial discrimination. As well, the claim that females are underrepresented in STEM fields due to discrimination is refuted by the systemic discrimination in favor of females in the field, and the fact that females prefer the social sciences to scientific STEM fields. Internationally, the more democratic and egalitarian a country is, the fewer females chose to study STEM fields.

The claim that America is “racist” ignores the opinion polls throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, which show declining racial prejudice, until today it is minimal at worst. But not only people’s attitudes have changed, so have their actions: America elected a black President, unprecedented for a racial minority of only 13% of the population. At the same time, interracial marriages have surged in numbers. Today no television program is complete without a mixed-race couple, a prime sign of cultural approbation.

[Has  Harvard Lost Its Taste for Western Civilization?]

Another example is the doubtful claims of Black Lives Matter, an organization granted a high degree of credibility by the Democrat Party and the mainstream media, of a black holocaust perpetrated by white police and white supremacist gangs. The facts in FBI statistics are that almost half of all murder victims in American are black and that almost all the people that murdered them are also black. Blacks are overrepresented among murdered and murderers by 300% of their percentage of the general population. This is so well known that mentioning black-on-black crime is denounced as “racist” by black activists and “social justice” advocates. Another contrary fact is that more police are murdered by blacks than blacks are killed by police.

Feminists portray males as “toxic,” without acknowledging that most men spend their lives trying to please their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, in the overwhelming majority of cases working hard to support them. Nor do feminists mention that men do the dirty and dangerous jobs that society needs and suffer almost all of the industrial injuries and deaths.

The feminist claim that we live in a “rape culture” is false in every respect, because culture is what is valued, taught, and rewarded, and Americans do not believe that rape is a good thing, do not teach children to rape, and punish rape with stiff prison sentences. Feminists’ attempts to expand the category of “rape” to sex that is “regretted” make clear that cries of “rape” have become a political tool to subordinate males. So, too, with the ridiculous demand to “believe women,” as if females are not human beings who are never mistaken and who never lie.

Then there is the much-repeated claim that the between female and male income is due to discrimination against females. Uncontrolled in this claim is the different jobs that females and males work, and different qualifications required. Even within comparable jobs, uncontrolled is the hours, days, and years worked, which are in all spheres substantially higher for men than women. In a recent claim about the “wage gap” at Google, it turned out that female engineers were paid more than male engineers at the same level. Were the feminists happy? Of course not, they then moved the goalposts, claiming that female engineers were not given positions at high enough levels.

Canadian First Nations activists have understandably denounced the high rate of Indigenous women murdered. But they do not mention that Indigenous men are murdered at a higher rate. Or that Indigenous women and men are, in most cases, murdered by family, friends, or neighbors — in other words by other Indigenous natives. These unfortunate events are blamed by activists on non-Indigenous Canadians, deemed to be “colonial settlers,” although exactly how they work their evil magic is never explained. As with many “social justice” claims, there seems to be a rapid movement from legitimate concern to far fetched claims with no foundation in fact.

Hating America

Segments of the American population with partisan interests bolster their claims by assertions of victimhood, and in so doing, vilify America as a sexist, racist, bigoted, intolerant, and unjust country. As Beckeld puts it,

“Diverse interests are created that view each other as greater enemies than they do foreign threats. Since the common civilizational enemy has been successfully repulsed, it can no longer serve as an effective target for and outlet of people’s sense of superiority, and human psychology generally requires an adversary for the
purpose of self-identification, and so a new adversary is crafted: other people in the same civilization.”

[Teaching that America is Hopelessly Racist]

While feminist and minority claims have not been ignored, because equality is a central value of American culture, feminists and minority activists have greatly exaggerated their victimhood and the evil oppression by men and by the white majority. Partisan activists and their supporters strive to gain power for their group, as well as power and status for themselves. Those on the political left see the campaign for “social justice” as a path to greater government centralization and power. The call for “social justice” is often joined by a condemnation of capitalism and a plea for socialism. The left’s tendency for totalitarianism is seen in the increased control of thought and speech, for example, in universities’ “diversity and inclusion” apparatus, including “bias detection” committees and re-education committees, a la Communist China.

The great success of “woke social justice” ideology can be attributed in part to the capture of America’s education system by grievance partisanship. From the grievance fields of women’s studies, black studies, indigenous studies, Chicano studies, etc., “woke” ideology and virtue signaling spread rapidly to anthropology, sociology, political science, English, and other “humanistic” disciplines, social work, and education. From radical “social justice education faculties, “woke” feminist, anti-American teachers spread across the land to shape the minds of America’s children. But no one was quicker to adopt grievance “social justice” than university administrators, who have hired thousands of “diversity and inclusion officers,” including at the highest levels of administration for salaries up to half a million dollars a year, to police thoughts and speech among students and faculty. A sideline is enforcing Obama administration Title IX demands that they persecute male students that any female complains about. With their “social justice” police force in place, administrators have gone on to establish racial segregation in housing, eating facilities, and university salaries, and well as to admit, fund, hire and promote on the basis of sex, gender, race, and ethnicity. Every American criterion of merit, universal values, democracy, and due process has been thrown out by just about every university administration.

Thus, in order to advance partisan interests, feminist and minority activists have distorted facts of history and sociology to portray America as a wicked and evil country. At the same time, educationalists have striven to divide Americans according to sex, race, sexual preference, and ethnicity, while canceling the rights of members of the American majority. To quote Beckeld again,

The historical development of oikophobia [hatred of one’s own society] has had a debilitating effect on many aspects of our society, on its culture, politics, and military. It is a nation so fixated by internal squabbles that it is no longer capable of effectively projecting outward, unified force.

Clearly, Russian and Chinese conspiracies are not needed to destroy America; partisan activists, educators, and the media are doing their best to argue that America should be destroyed and thus destroy it themselves.


  • Philip Carl Salzman

    Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Past President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

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16 thoughts on “Where Does the Impulse to Vilify America and the West Come From?

  1. Compare the history of racism as taught in our schools to its real origin:

    The concept of the blond and blue eyed Aryan Master Race was first published in 1916 in Madison Grant‘s book: „The Passing of the Great Race“.
    In 1923 that author received a letter of appreciation by an unknown reader, calling the book „his bible“. The fan‘s name: Adolf Hitler.

    The first country with legislation to protect the Aryan Master Race was Sweden, followed by 27 US States and Switzerland.
    After translating and copying the Californian Race Hygiene Legislation in 1934, the Nazis were embraced by Charles M. Goethe, American race hygienist, who, after his visit to Germany for receiving an honorable doctor degree by the University of Heidelberg, wrote to the President of the American Human Betterment Foundation:

    “You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”

    The same year a member of the SS was invited to present German race hygiene on the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association in Pasadena/Cal.

    In 1927, the US Supreme Court, in „Buck vs. Bell“ ruled:

    ..It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. ….Three generations of imbeciles are enough…

    The Nazis advertised that ruling everywhere and added: „We are not alone“.

    Nazi medical theorists exploited and refined eugenic literature, stigmatizing minorities as „parasites“.
    Those ideas however were obtained at the 5 world congresses of Eugenics, the first having taken place in London, followed by Berlin, Rotterdam and New York City consecutively twice
    The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (today: Max Planck Society) of Heredity, Anthropology and Eugenics, chief: Ottmar von Verschuer, played a terrible part in implementing anti human measures, it should be known however, that the Institute was founded and exclusively financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The annual budget of the institute exceeded the total support of the German state to all other scientific disciplines at the time being. It therefore does not make anyone wonder that even the most remote scientist, not connected to anything about race hygiene, pretended to be able to contribute to the overall project of „Eugenics“ for participating at least a bit from the Golden shower raining on Verschuer, the leading eugenicist of the Berlin Institute.

    One doctor student of Ottmar von Verschuer, a veterinary physician, working on his doctor thesis in human medicine, was Josef Mengele.
    In his thesis he was following the hypothesis that „heredity“ is produced by large proteins in human blood or cell plasma. Those proteins were searched and analysed by X Ray Spectroscopy, invented in the Berlin institute. For his research he required pairs of siblings, because every large protein not completely identical in both could be removed from the list of possible candidates.
    For not finding enough siblings in the German Reich, the sponsor around 1943 was noted, that „Dr. Mengele has joined the SS to continue his research in Auschwitz“.

    The alternative hypothesis, heredity being a product of the already known chromosomes, was investigated in New York by Oswald Avery. For his part of the research he used the electron microscope, also invented in Berlin, purchased by Rockefellers and shipped to New York.

    Six weeks preceeding the publication of his findings, the normal time period from submitting a paper until its publication, Mengele terminated his work in Auschwitz.
    That is a hint that both were connected until the end. By whom is unknown. Although the Max Planck Society today confirms the findings above, stating however, to be unaware why Mengele regularly sent blood samples to Berlin, the Rockefeller Foundation claims not having been noticed of Mengeles transfer to Auschwitz.

    In 1942 the US Journal of Psychiatry recommended the euthanisation of „psychically abnormal“ children of all ages and called empathy for those children, even by parents of those children, as own psychiatric disease.

    When in 1945 the Nazis were hanged, all international Journals of Eugenics, like „Eugenics Weekly“, were renamed halted publishing (with the exception of the US Journaĺ of Psychiatry), the 5 World Congress‘ were „forgotten“, the science of Eugenics erased from history books or blamed entirely on the Nazis.

    By changing its name and going “underground”, it is however alive as it was decades ago.

    For me as a German hearing Nazi-insults wherever I go, that is no reason to hate anyone. It is however one reason that could explain growing Anti-Americanism in this world and a good reason to care for ones own true history.


  2. Victimization can only be overcome by personal accountability. I must examine my own roll in the development of my condition. Before finding fault with others, find my own faults and learn to deal with them. If we do that much, the rest will become significantly clearer.

  3. minority activists have greatly exaggerated their victimhood

    Hundreds of years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow would tend to dampen down any group of people. Most of the US’s problems with minority relations comes down to African-Americans–Latinos assimilate like any other ethnic group (when was the last time someone complained about discrimination against the Italians?). The point about West African and Caribbean blacks illustrates this point–it it is not genetics but culture. But who shaped that culture? Not African-Americans.

    Now the question is what is to be done? I’m not certain but I’m willing to entertain ideas. One thought that comes to mind is jobs–everyone (well , nearly everyone) agrees that work is a good thing for a variety of reasons. But in any case, just as we clean up pollutants dumped a century ago, we should clean up the poisoness residue of the aforementioned discrimination.

  4. America’s decline came from the idea that people aren’t people. The State is a person.
    In the records of Socialism and Communism, you will find no discussion of character development; unless you want to include those Russian Matryoshka dolls.

    What elements of a man’s personality is important? How can he determine where he needs to improve? The State will never allow that question to be asked, because it implies self-determination.

  5. Brilliant, well thought out and researched, and at the same time, extremely disappointing and frightening article. Everyone should read this, and take it to heart; the problem is that those who would truly benefit from it, will reject it out of hand. I’ve never seen people more unaware and ‘asleep’ to the facts of society, than those who claim to be ‘woke’. And yet, they’re the squeaky wheels that keep getting the grease, perpetuating more of the same ludicrous demands.

  6. Many people suffer from suppressed knowledge, that they themselves are inconsequential beings and always will be.

    They can fix that by improving themselves but that requires work and actual accomplishments.

    It is much easier to tear down the reputations of others.

  7. Where does it come from? Look no further than the tribe, who long to destroy national sovereignty and wipe Western culture off the face of the earth. All to get their One World Government “utopia”. BAMN. And sure, their leader is Schwartz György. But they long for the ideals of their Messiahs – Lenin and Stalin.

    Not all tribe act in this manner. But the majority do.

      1. Of course that’s who he means! The trouble with this venue is that it is speculative, rather than scholarly—in “look and feel.” It attracts a lot of the very people you—and I—need to come to terms with.

        Today, the Chief Rabbi of the U.K. spoke out against Jeremy Courbyn and Labour, via an essay published in The Times. It was both a courageous, and a desparate thing for a distinguished rabbi to do—intimating that Britain’s Jews should not vote for Labour candidates in the December election. Tony Blair came out in support, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury.

        But in Canada and the U.S., we do not hear an outcry—except from people like you. Why the silence? In a word, we have so dumbed-down our culture over the last half-century, that our people’s seeming indifference can be explained only as a “non-act of total ignorance.” They do nothing, because they know nothing.

        Here in the U.S. we have assiduously worked to replace “knowing things” with “believing things.” I think you allude to that in your essay above. I see this retreat from reason as a symptom of despair, over what the society itself has become. What are we to think of a land where “shopping,” “entertainment” and “amassing wealth” are what we busy ourselves with principally? What is the future for this scenario, this framework of “values?” Not a good future, to be sure.

        And then there is the inexplicable, to me, failure of Jewish parents to protect their children from the humiliations and threats that are leveled at them by their fellow students on university and college campuses across the land. How many Jewish moms and dads do you know, who upon hearing of anti-Semitic activity at the institution their child is enrolled, expresses concern, demands an explanation, and finally joins with other Jewish parents to sue on constitutional grounds? I hear only complaining and whining from them. Not one dad, for instance, thinks it’s even feasible to intervene on his child’s behalf. What am I missing?

        Thanks for your article. It belongs in a more formal format, rather than laid out online where the usual cranks and conspiracy theorists can mis-read and attack it.

        All regards.

  8. This pretty well sums it up. The advent, development and current state of national affairs in the US. The lefties won’t be satisfied until they have eliminated or subjugated anyone who does not join them. That leaves really only one final point of resistance for their victims and targets: VIOLENCE.

    We don’t want to it to come to that. But we will not shrink from it. Lefties, you have been warned.

  9. The impulse comes from the federal government’s infesting every area of life and doing a bad job of it. When the judge rules over everything and can be bought or intimidated it is quite natural to go hating on the judge when things don’t go your way.

  10. “Feminist ideology was systematized in proliferating “women’s studies” programs, which provided full-time feminist propaganda in colleges and universities, including the education faculties that trained school teachers, who were mostly females.”

    It actually was worse — the women drove the men out.

    Back in the 1960’s not only were there a sizable number of male teachers, particularly in the upper grades, but all the administrators were male. As were most of the education professors.

    It’s just that the feminist ideology led to women only hiring women, which led to an attrition of males. My student teaching cadre was 50/50, it’s just that the men didn’t get hired and the women did. 30 years later, we have male students being driven out education programs, I’ve seen it happen.

    The same thing is true of the human services fields — the men retired, and were replaced with women. That’s how it became almost exclusively female — 50 years ago, that wasn’t the case.

    So now we have young Black males being raised by single mothers, living in public housing run by women, with mostly female teachers. The only male role model these boys have is the local drug dealer — and we wonder why we have problems….

  11. Thank you. I have not seen such a cogent presentation on this subject. It comports with my own experiences, though I am a few years younger than you. (In 1968 I graduated high school.)

  12. It can be traced to the Reagan-RFK debate on Vietnam (5/15/67), broadcast on cbs, wherein RFK kept criticizing America and apologizing for her foreign policies.

    Detailed in Reagan’s 1968 Dress Rehearsal

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