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John Gibson's Hating America Is a Fraud

Reported by Judy - July 9, 2005

John Gibson's recent column wishing Paris were the site of the 2012 Olympics because it would be a "treat" to watch France deal with terrorism was not his only venture into xenophobia. The host of Fox News Channel's "The Big Story" lays out his fear and loathing of most of the world in his book Hating America: The New World Sport.

The book, whose cover strangely features two sinister-looking pictures of Gibson's eyes and forehead, employs the same formula the far-right has used to gain and keep its supporters - tie everything to 9/11.

Gibson does this by opening the book with a story about a friend who was almost killed in the attack and collapse of the Twin Towers, recalling the sense of shock and horror all Americans felt that day. Once readers are emotionally engaged, Gibson easily transitions from outrage at the attack to outrage at those who disagree with American policy on how to respond to the attack. To fan readers' sense of outrage and keep us on his side, Gibson vastly overstates the level of disagreement to make it seem unfair. Then he subtly substitutes the war on Iraq for 9/11 on the assumption that getting rid of Saddam Hussein has something to do with fighting terrorism as opposed to causing more of it.

Gibson's argument that the rest of the world hates the U.S. rests on a grossly illogical daisy-chain: People around the world disagree with George W. Bush's gun-toting, Bible-thumping swagger that constitutes American foreign policy. Therefore, they hate America. In other words, "disagree with" equals "hate" and "George W. Bush" equals "the United States."

Time and again, Gibson fails to distinguish between world opinion toward Bush and world opinion of rank-and-file Americans. Consider this sentence (p. 19): "As the war approached, French public opinion polls revealed dramatic anti-Americanism: 75 percent of the French public opposed George W. Bush's military action to end the regime of Saddam Hussein." To Gibson, opposing Bush's policy means hating the United States.

Gibson derives other support for his hate argument, not from French sources, but from writers from conservative American publications that share his view of the rest of the world. He quotes Robert Kagan, author and former employee of Ronald Reagan's State Department; Victor Davis Hanson of the National Review Online, and Mike Gonzalez of the Wall Street Journal, who recruited European leaders to sign an op-ed piece supporting the war in Iraq, as well as the column by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times saying France was becoming America's enemy.

Gibson, of course, doesn't actually cover the whole world. In five chapters he covers France, the "Arabs," Great Britain, Germany, and Belgium, South Korea, and Canada, whom he lumps together for no apparent reason other than he does not have enough to say about each of them to make a full chapter.

The chapter arrangement has several weaknesses. By putting France first, Gibson elevates their disagreement with U.S. policy above even the real hatred that Muslim extremists have for the western world. Furthermore, the "Arabs" chapter fails to distinguish among Middle Eastern nations. Given that nearly all the hijackers who perpetrated the attack on the U.S. were from Saudi Arabia, doesn't that nation deserve its own chapter, equal to the one by the French? And finally, the country-by-country approach requires the repetition of much information about the run-up to the Iraq war.

While Gibson wants readers to believe other nations' disagreements with Bush policy are irrational, he actually provides some evidence that their positions make sense. In a discussion about Germany's anti-war position, Gibson quotes an unnamed German politician as saying, "To us, war means Dresden" (p. 157).

Similarly, in the chapter, "The Arabs' Mindless Hatred for America," Gibson provides some insight on why some Arabs might believe American citizens deserve to be attacked. Gibson said "Islamists" believe that because the U.S. is a democracy, its citizens can be held responsible for the government's policies and the immoral or illegal actions of its leaders. "Therefore, U.S. civilians were legitimate targets, as much as the American leaders whom the 9/11 hijackers had also targeted," Gibson wrote (p. 60).

Recent developments make Gibson's arguments appear all the weaker. The failure to find the fearsome weapons of mass destruction in Iraq make the French insistence on continuing inspections seem pretty reasonable. Gibson's descriptions of the inspection process as a failure sound ridiculous (p. 35), as do his references to Iraqis "joyous" at the arrival of the U.S. troops (p. 33), who continue to die due to an excess of Iraqi joy. The revelations of the Downing Street Memos undermine Gibson's assertions that Bush "resolved" to invade Iraq a year after invading Afghanistan (p. 111).

In short, the book fails to stand the test of time because it is propaganda justifying Bush's policies rather than a search for the truth. That may be why, despite coming out only a year ago at a price of $25.95, used copies of the book are now available on the internet for $1.28 and new copies for $2.80. Even cross-promotion of his book by guest appearances on other Fox Shows, including "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Dayside with Linda Vester," and an entire special on "hating America" could not rescue Gibson's book from the eventual obscurity it so richly observes.

Overall, this book is a fraud. It does not deliver what it promises in the title. It is not about the world hating America, but about some countries' disagreeing with George W. Bush's policies. It is not about the world hating America, but about Gibson hating the world, especially France, Great Britain, and Germany. It is all about Gibson trying to carve about a bigger niche for himself on Fox News.

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