Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.20 Young climate strikers can win their fight. We must all help

02.20 Voyage to the Garbage Patch: the female sailors taking on plastic

02.19 Bees brought Bavarians together. And they have a lesson for us all

02.19 Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can't humans see the writing on the wall? [Fear that Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]

02.18 Tesla big battery is holding its own in a burgeoning energy storage market

02.18 Trump administration condemned over delaying action on toxic drinking water

02.16 New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]

02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]

02.16 My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

02.16 US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]

02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]

02.12 Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week

02.12 Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

02.12 Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.21 Bezos Says Amazon Drones Ready to Deliver Mueller Report to Every American Household

02.21 Devin Nunes Was Trump’s Mole Inside the Gang of Eight

02.21 Alec Baldwin fears for family's safety after Trump 'retribution' threats [0:40 video]

02.20 Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him

02.20 ‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates [If you can sense them, block them!]

02.20 The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet

02.20 Why Bernie Sanders' radicalism can take out Trump

02.20 Why vote for Sanders when you can have Elizabeth Warren instead?

02.19 Democratic party elites silence Ilhan Omar at their peril [2:01 video]

02.19 The Political Revolution Is Back: Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Run for President

Justice Matters

02.19 California Leads 16 States Suing to Block Trump Border Plan

02.19 Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie [Hurrah!]

High Crimes?

02.20 Despite the slaughter in Yemen, Britain is still chasing arms sales [and the Great-Again-America is too...Capitalism without morality is horrible]

02.16 Elliott Abrams Defends War Crimes As Happening Back In The ’80s When Everyone Was Doing It

Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism

02.21 Historian who confronted Davos billionaires leaks Tucker Carlson rant

02.20 A Centuries-Old Idea Could Revolutionize Climate Policy

International & Futurism

02.21 John Oliver Compares Brexit ‘Disaster’ to Will Smith’s Genie in Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ (Video) [21:26 video; we’re approaching an Idiocracy-type of society, where stupidity is “normal”]

02.20 House report lays bare White House feud over Saudi nuclear push [Its hard to keep up with all the criminal crap going on...]

02.20 My grandfather was a Nazi. I’ve seen why we need the EU

02.19 Centrism isn’t the solution to the mess we’re in

02.19 Renewables need urgent investment to ease Australia's transmission bottlenecks, experts warn

02.18 Hate-Fest in Warsaw

02.18 They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Demanding American Exceptionalism
PERSPECTIVE:

Demanding American Exceptionalism

by Don Monkerud
Published on ConsortiumNews.com on Friday, 10 December 2010

Editorial Note from Bob Parry: Since the Reagan administration, Republicans and the Right have made great political hay out of accusing their opponents of not embracing a thoroughly uncritical view of the United States. As Reagan’s UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick put it, there are those who love their country and those who “blame America first.”
But this demand for blind patriotism has caused the United States grave harm by discrediting constructive ideas for addressing the nation’s problems. That is, because acknowledging problems requires seeing flaws in America’s “exceptionalism” which opens a politician to attack as an “America-hater” – a dilemma that writer Don Monkerud addresses in this guest essay:

A plethora of wannabe presidential candidates is beating the drum again for American exceptionalism, a warmed-over rehash of bravado, jingoism, and chauvinism.

This latest super-patriotic call seeks to revive a concept dragged from the dustbin of history by George W. Bush. Bush resurrected American exceptionalism as an excuse for his destruction of Iraq, and the unilateral disregard for the rest of the world.

Under Bush, the U.S. overturned international treaties, denounced the U.N. and international cooperation -- except when to America's advantage -- and rejected legal views routinely accepted around the world. Bush and his neocon cheerleaders claimed that the U.S. has its own set of rules, judgments, and solutions to every issue, based on national advantage.

Many of today's politicians, urged on by Fox News, are replaying these old arguments.

Exceptionalism reaches back to historic national decisions that were similar to the invasion of Iraq: dropping the atomic bomb on Japan; clearing out indigenous people to make room for white settlers; and enslaving Africans to build and run plantations. Those in favor of such moves claim God gave America a unique right to rule, and ignore the rest of the world, because we are special.

In one way, exceptionalism is merely another weapon now being used to undermine President Obama and pave the way for the GOP to capture the presidency in 2012. The term also justifies conservative policies, such as unbridled capitalism, limited government, abolishing taxes, and imposing Christianity on the nation.

Let's examine the concept. A 2008 Brookings Institute conference on American Exceptionalism outlined the ways Americans diverge from world opinion.

Some 75 percent of Americans are proud of their country, while only a third of Germans and Japanese are. Half of Americans consider a public safety net important while 75 percent of Europeans do. Two-thirds of Americans believe success comes from individual effort, while the same proportion of Europeans believes success is the result of forces beyond their control.

Above all, America is deeply rooted in religious belief. Half of Americans believe God is essential to morality, while only a third of Europeans do. Forty percent of Americans go to church once a week, while less than 10 percent attend in Europe. Do these characteristics justify America forcing its will on the rest of the world?

The notion of exceptionalism includes the boast that America is the greatest nation on earth. Perhaps because few Americans read newspapers or travel abroad, they cannot adequately judge the truth of this claim.

Corporate-controlled politicians claim America has "the greatest healthcare system in the world," only to reveal their ignorance. The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th among nations in healthcare performance in 2000, although we pay more for less service.

Numerous studies reveal that the U.S. is mediocre in treating illness. For example, compared to the G-8 countries, the U.S. has the highest infant mortality, the most mothers who die during childbirth, the most lives lost that could have been saved, and the worst in treatment of cancer.

The U.N. rates the U.S. even worse: 74th in healthcare performance. And in 2009, the C.I.A. ranked the U.S. 49th in life expectancy in the world.

Nor is the U.S. "the greatest" in essential categories. The U.S. is second after the European Union in GDP, 41st out of 130 in public debt, has the worst balance of trade of any country, and is 32nd in student math, reading and scientific performance.

We do have the greatest wealth disparity in the world. In 2007, our top ten percent controlled 72 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 50 percent controlled 2.5 percent. The poverty rate increased from 12 to 14 percent since 2004, and the current recession has left over a quarter of the working population either under-or un-employed.

The U.S. does have the most expensive military in the world because we spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined. We also spend more on our for-profit medical system-two and-a-half-times more than the world average.

Pointing out an anomaly of historic development is one thing, but adopting "exceptionalism" as government policy ignores the disastrous failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the meltdown of the world economy, huge national deficits, and the rise of Iran and China on the international scene.

Flag-waving politicians like Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Mike Pence, and Newt Gingrich use the concept of "exceptionalism" to prove how much they love America. Such hyper-nationalism, usually tied to a Christian God, denies our common humanity with the rest of the world, undercuts international cooperation, and promotes an arrogant disregard for world opinion.

It remains to be seen how Americans will react when they realize their imperial ambitions in the New American Century -- a neocon dream of world dominance -- is a hollow myth. America lived beyond its means for too long and now must accept its place in a new world. China, the E.U. and even small countries increasingly challenge America's role in the world. 

Will the U.S. become isolationist, engage in more militaristic adventures, or join the nations of the world to push for world peace? We shall see.


Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire.

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other ConsortiumNews stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

Mr. Monkerud's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on December 11, 2010.
 

Public Service Ads: