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‘My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease,’ wailed the British novelist Margaret Drabble in 2003. Jean Baudrillard, the late French postmodernist philosopher, writing in Le Monde, also settled on the image of possession to capture his response to 9/11. ‘How we have dreamt of this event … How all the world without exception dreamt of this event, for no one can avoid dreaming of the destruction of a power that has become hegemonic … It is they (the terrorists) who acted, but we who wanted the deed.’ The political right, of course, can also be anti-American. As Timothy Garton Ash has observed, ‘To the [French] Gaullists, America is a culture so self-evidently moronic that only stump- toothed inbred Appalachian lardbutts could possibly fall for it.’ Sophistication is no barrier to the prejudice. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant thought Americans ‘had no passion, hardly speak at all, never caress one another, care about nothing, and are lazy.’

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