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American Exceptionalism and Its Discontents

Jack2894 Wrote: Nov 02, 2012 10:49 AM
This is a true crock of patootie. When De Tocqueville talked about American exceptionalism (he actually started this discussion) he stated it as an insult. He felt America was exceptional, in the sense of being exceptionally anti-intellectual, anti-art, puritanical and materialistic. Obama's "crime" was simply telling the truth. The British have many claims to exceptionalism. So do the French, the Egyptians, the Israelis, the Irish, the Swedes and everyone else. But no other nation has this intense need to be considered. People in other countries do consider the US a great place, mostly. But they do laugh at the juvenile obsession Americans have with constantly proclaiming it is all that and a bag of chips.

In May 2011, the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, a columnist I admire, wrote an opinion piece titled “The Myth of American Exceptionalism.” In it, he opined that the “problem of the 21st century is the problem of culture,” in particular the “culture of smugness,” the emblem of which “is the term ‘American exceptionalism.’ It has been adopted by the right to mean that America, alone among the nations, is beloved of God.”

I wrote a rebuttal, contending that exceptionalism means nothing of the sort, and that no one on the right that I was aware of – and no one,...