June 5, 2012

"God has a special providence for fools, drunks and the United States"

“[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.”   ~Zbigniew Brzezinski

I about fell out of my chair today. My local paper published a letter to the editor that didn't include the usual pandering to birtherdroids, climate change squawkers and Preznit Mooslim Kenyan haters. (It's amazing to me how many falsehoods, distortions and flat-out lies get published under the banner of "opinion." If your "opinion" isn't based on facts, it's worthless.)

The writer in this case is Dan Fearn, and I could just kiss him. His letter is a breath of fresh air.

All sorts of people including political contenders, newspaper editors and reporters as well as letter writers are fond of loudly trumpeting American Exceptionalism. Certainly, our nation once was considered to be exceptional in important and good ways, but that was long ago.

These days I would caution against emphasizing our exceptionalism. Many countries have already rather successfully handled such important issues as establishing a national health service, ensuring a woman's right to control her own body, separating religion from politics, investing sufficiently in national infrastructure and properly providing for the education of their next generation.

Meanwhile, we continue to roil the pot concerning these and similarly vital matters, not only progressing, but even retrogressing. We are thereby wasting a lot of time and effort sliding backwards toward the Dark Ages and as a result our exceptionalism may well be viewed much less positively.

Actually, because a gang of monomaniacal reactionaries in Congress - whose conceit was exceeded only by their ignorance - pressured our government into several seriously counter-productive decisions last year, our exceptionalism now might be judged quite negatively.

Finally, in view of the inane spectacle of our recent presidential primaries, I think that the rest of the world must be totally horrified by our current excessive exceptionalism, hoping fervently that we somehow sober up and regain our senses by November.

While I do not want our nation to be judged to be exceptionally backward, exceptionally self-absorbed and exceptionally obtuse, that has most unfortunately become to a large extent the contemporary reality.

I agree wholeheartedly with this. Our nation is no longer exceptional, if it ever was. A country built on the Unholy Trinity of slavery, genocide and discrimination is not one to be proud of--and to disagree with the President, is not the "greatest nation on earth."

This is a very good article on the subject: "The Myth of American Exceptionalism," with the writer debunking 5 myths about the subject. Pay attention to No. 5 in particular--"God Is On Our Side."

Confidence is a valuable commodity for any country. But when a nation starts to think it enjoys the mandate of heaven and becomes convinced that it cannot fail or be led astray by scoundrels or incompetents, then reality is likely to deliver a swift rebuke. Ancient Athens, Napoleonic France, imperial Japan, and countless other countries have succumbed to this sort of hubris, and nearly always with catastrophic results.

That's more than hubris; that's downright scary.


No comments: