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Christianity Thomas on 10 May 2011 12:30 am

The myth of American exceptionalism

Richard Cohen talks about The myth of American exceptionalism and the culture of smugness amongst American Christians:

The myth of American exceptionalism

The emblem of this culture is the term “American exceptionalism.” It has been adopted by the right to mean that America, alone among the nations, is beloved of God….

The term “American exceptionalism” has been invoked by Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and, of course, Sarah Palin.

How exceptional is America?

For an industrialized nation, the United States has a very high murder rate and, no surprise, a very high execution rate. We have a health-care system cleverly designed to bankrupt the average person and a political system so dysfunctional that we may go into national bankruptcy, blaming one another for spending too much or taxing too little, but not both. God indeed works in mysterious ways.

American exceptionalism has produced a dysfunctional education system — more than 14,000 school districts, lots of bad (but job-protected) teachers, oblivious parents and students who are too dumb to know they’re dumb. American eighth-graders score 66 points below their Japanese counterparts in math, yet almost 40 percent of American children think they’re good in math. That figure for Japan is 4 percent.

This article points out: “The United States clings to the death penalty, alone in the industrialised world. In fact, it stands with China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen as the world’s most frequent executioners.” This is exactly what you would expect of a nation where the vast majority of people claim to be Christian.

5 Responses to “The myth of American exceptionalism”

  1. on 19 May 2011 at 3:42 pm 1.Joshua said …

    I usually do this.

    1. Ask them what areas they think America is exceptional in.

    2. Look it up.

    The next thing that happens is either they just dismiss what I find outright, or they don’t want to talk about it at which point I say “Then I am justified in thinking that you think America is exceptional for no reason”. It’s all about feelings for them so at least they are disturbed that someone thinks about them in such a way. I hope that down the road they act on it.

    My parents for example simply refused to believe it when I showed them the comparison between the US and European nations when it came to Abortion, STD’s, and other factors. My Dad just kept saying “I doubt that” like a mantra or talisman that would ward reality away. This crap is what keeps problems around. Nothing can be changed until we are willing to admit that there is something that needs changing.

  2. on 20 May 2011 at 3:10 am 2.Observer said …

    This rings all too true. Imagine my surprise when I went to Europe for the first time as a wide-eyed American in the mid-80s. I spent the summer there and covered the Benelux countries, German speaking countries and Italy. Expecting to see a standard of living well below the average American, what I saw was just the opposite. Even Italy which was supposed to be pretty out of sorts was great. I couldn’t believe it.

    That is not to say there is not opportunity here, but the folks immigrating here for the most part aren’t Europeans, they are from other American countries, Muslim, and Hindu countries.

    The future of America has been stolen starting in the Reagan era, and has continued unabated to today. The stupidity of my countrymen is proven by the disaster of our political system, and the mere fact we cannot get our minds around having a national health care system. The idiot filth who are making this happen are largely xtians of the more stupid ilk Baptists, and other evangelicals.

    I am lucky and can afford to immigrate if and when the need arises. Sort of a rapture of my own making.

  3. on 20 May 2011 at 4:15 am 3.Horatiio said …

    Egad!! The American bashers are out in full force. Atheists and their far left fallacies are so predictable.

    Nose Buster, no surprise. You are not exceptional therefore we could never expect you to understand the term. I have been in 20 different nations and you are, as always, wrong.

    America, until the boy wonder took office, was exceptional in her giving, her military might, her ability to respond throughout the world when other nations were in crisis and her economic genius and power. WWII would have been lost if not for America and the incredible leadership of Ike. America was a nation full of great leaders.

    But then again, atheist being the loony liberals must back the boy wonder on this extreme. When the boy finishes with America, she will not have the ability to be exceptional any longer.

    Kudos, you got me on that one.

  4. on 20 May 2011 at 3:07 pm 4.Lou said …

    3.Horatiio said …

    “Egad!! The American bashers are out in full force. Atheists and their far left fallacies are so predictable.”

    As usual, your reply misses or ignores the topic – The emblem of this culture is the term “American exceptionalism.” It has been adopted by the right to mean that America, alone among the nations, is beloved of God….

    “Nose Buster, no surprise. You are not exceptional therefore we could never expect you to understand the term. I have been in 20 different nations and you are, as always, wrong.”

    The claim that you have been in 20 different countries is, as your usual comments, irrelevant.

    “America, until the boy wonder took office, was exceptional in her giving, her military might, her ability to respond throughout the world when other nations were in crisis and her economic genius and power.”

    Right, in less than 28 months the President has ruined America. You are so full of it.

    “WWII would have been lost if not for America and the incredible leadership of Ike.”

    Hor, we’re in the 21st century, care to join us, or do you also want to trot out WWI and the American Revolution? Oh yea, you apparently forgot that Vietnam war that Ike got the U.S. into.

  5. on 10 Jul 2011 at 12:57 am 5.truthseeker said …

    A country will always only be as exceptional as its people. Once we were a nation that followed God, and based on His teachings as found in the Bible, believed that it was our personal responsibility to care for ourselves and our fellow people, to provide for ourselves and the less fortunate, to protect others at the expense of our own comfort and even our lives, to better ourselves and give opportunity to others to better themselves, etc. Over the years we have turned from those beliefs and in doing so have become self-absorbed, and less “exceptional”. I don’t believe God has favorites. And He will not be mocked, whatever a person plants he will also harvest. People are exceptional, if they invest in being so.

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