Saturday, August 1, 2009

On American Exceptionalism

Why does the issue of American Exceptionalism matter?

First, it's worth clarifying that American Exceptionalism isn't simply "patriotism." It is perfectly healthy to root for the home team, but that's different than having delusions of god-given, or founding-father given greatness. Taking pride in our country, and trying to make it good, doesn't necessitate mythologies that promote a false sense of unique, superior position among other nations. Exceptionalism is a belief in the later, which is different than healthy pride in one's nation.

I'll be exploring "exceptionalism" in Episode 17 of GDAE Podcast. It is relevant to challenging the establishment, because the myths of American Exceptionalism are used by members and institutions of the establishment to maintain their exceptional positions.... at the expense of the masses.

I'll be including audio clips from Media Matters that delve into they way ingrained beliefs in American Exceptionalism colors news reporting and other aspects of media. This exceptionalsm has many negative side effects. For example, the United States justifies hundreds of military basese across the world, the use of military force and horrific "collateral damage" on the basis of exceptionalism.

As another example, Americans have been led to believe that "we are great by definition," which creates the social attitude of a nation resting on its laurels. This malaize is expressed in the US falling behind other nations in education, health care, infrastructure and the knowledge to maintain its more complex elements, national debt and many other things.

We can care for our community, whether it be local or national, without having false notions of grandure. Because false myths of American exceptionalism are used to rally a national "manifest destiny" militancy, and quell dissent of people challenging our government and major US corporations, we must challenge the myths themselves.


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