America, more than any other country I can think of, encourages such extreme opinions that it’s sometimes difficult to analyse why such views are held. There are rigid anti-Americans, of course, who variously dislike its capitalist and free-market system, its silent majority’s lack of sophistication, or its military and technological might. Much of this is just plain envy. Others define the country through its president. At the moment Bush-haters are in the ascendancy, hence the gloating tone of much of the broadcasting coverage of Hurricane Katrina. It was, as the mad Michael Moore put it, all the fault of George W. himself. I dare say Moore is already finding ways of blaming Bush for the Ice Age.
It was all very well for Rupert Murdoch to quote his shoeshine boy Tony Blair on the BBC’s anti-American coverage of the hurricane, but in fact he should have been watching his own channel’s Sky News, which itself was very quickly into the blame-game and Guardian mode. I know this because I was in Italy and watching it, as well as listening to Radio Four and the World Service. What astonished me was the na