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AcadonBot wrote:
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Christophe Grandsire" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 12:55 AM
> Subject: Re: Unamerican
>
> > There is no idea of "un-French" in French (*infrançais is juste
> > meaningless). <clip>
>
> It's my impression that this word (unAmerican) is generally
> misunderstood outside the US context. (Not that it has much
> consistent use within.)
>
> The compounding involved (un- + nationality) does not IMO
> define the word, and does not mean that there should be similarly
> formed words elsewhere. For one American to call another
> person "unAmerican" has nothing to do IMO with that person
> not being a US citizen, it is closer to saying that he IS in fact a
> US citizen -- but a traitor to either the nation or its ideals. More
> like (most) French would perhaps feel of Nazi collaborators of
> French birth.
>
> > For a French person, a word like "unamerican" and the like is a mark of a
> > deep chauvinism (not that we're not chauvinist of course :) ) and is
> > considered quite silly.
>
> I think that this interpretation is simply wrong.  IMO, the word
> "unAmerican" has seldom if ever been used in reference to persons
> who were not US citizens. No one would have called deGaulle
> "unAmerican" (maybe "anti-American" in some ways, but not "un-").
> Foreigners are not qualified for the term, so it is not "chauvinistic"
> in any such sense. I think that is a misconception.
>
> "UnAmerican" is, IMO, a term of abuse related to differing views
> of loyalty to certain ideals within the US political context. It was
> generally  used in a very negative sense by what Europeans would
> call "the right" in US politics -- as a way of smearing "leftists" that
> they wanted to imply were traitorous or close to traitorous. This
> leaves it a rather unpopular term today. Seldom used IMO. But it
> is sometimes turned around (partly in jest) to insult "right-wingers"
> who do not seem (to others) loyal to the basic political system of
> the USA. Thus many in the USA might agree that the KluKlux Klan
> could be called "unAmerican" -- But this does not imply that they are
> perceived as "foreigners" in any way.
>
> > It goes against the general idea that liberty, free
> > speech, etc... are universal and are not the property of any nation,
> > especially not the US (anti-americanism is still alive and well in
> France).
>
> The use of the term went against many fine traditions of fair
> play, etc. But it was not really designed to convey any
> chauvinistic message. It was not used as an attack on "non-USA"
> ways of life at all, IMO. It was used by USAers to attack other
> USAers, often those whom they believed were criminally
> disloyal -- traitors to their nation.
>
> This may happen in other nations, but the same terminology
> (with an "un-"  prefix) is not necessarily going to be used.
>
> Of course there are USA chauvanists (as in other nations)
> and many tend to be "right wing." But IMO they would use
> other insults, not "unAmerican," to attack any foreign persons
> or groups that they wanted to denegrate.
<snip>

I think it's important to realize here that *people* are rarely (at
least in my experience) referred to as unamerican.  In the above
example, it would be relatively common to say that the KKK was
unamerican, but less common to say that a particular person in the KKK
was unamerican (probably because that would imply that s/he was a
foreigner).  The most common example, of course, of unamerican-ness, is
communism, coming from the House Unamerican Activities Committee.  Even
in the name of that committee, *activities* are what are considered
unamerican, not people.  Perhaps that's where the misunderstanding that
foreigners seem to have comes from, the fact that we use the term to
apply to things and they assume it to apply to people?

Nicole