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  •  Well then if you don't mind (6+ / 0-)

    Give me the correct definition/interpretation. I did not realize that there is one unified vision for American Exceptionalism.

    My view of American Exceptionalism comes from my personal experience with it. What makes America Exceptional is that no story like my family's could be possible anywhere else. It is America that saved my family from 3rd World Dictator-like Rule and Ethnic Cleansing. The fact that my parents now are solidly middle class and have the degrees they do is because of the opportunities that they received here. No other place offered, but America did. That is why I think America is Exceptional. You don't know my personal story other than what I have told you, so for this diarist or you to say that I am not interpreting the thesis of these comments with the seem view as European Comments, is completely base.

    I think that this diarist is making points that are extremely general while making "exceptions" for a few. That is the same thing as making a statement such as: I like the Nicois but I hate the French. I like don't like Jews, but ones with blue eyes and blond hair is okay. I hate government intervention in my personal life, but I am living on the "government dole".

    I was making the point that the premise of the diary is not in alignment with the life that I have been fortunate to have. I refuse to take part in something that is so one-sided, so I spoke out--and will always do so when I think that something is wrong.

    Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

    by YoungArizonaLiberal on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 05:21:35 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  You are entitled to think (15+ / 0-)

      "My country, right or wrong" ... It's a common view although real thinkers think through that.

      "American Exceptionalism" as referred to by me was simply the idea that "USA, USA, USA" and go cheerleaders trumps everything from outwith these shores.

      The very idea that one need not look at other countries, other cultures for ideas and inspiration because that is not "The American Way".

      The idea that if it is not American it is, by definition, inferior.

      However ... America, and Americans are quite able to be exceptional, once they realise, as many here do, that they are part of a world community and should play a full and involved part.

      That involves listening too.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 05:31:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  American Exceptionalism reaches deeper than that (28+ / 0-)

        It's even more profoundly wrong than what you described - it's rooted in the same crap as the concept of manifest destiny.  I view those two attitudes as no different from the absolutist fundamentalist Christian who thinks that if you don't believe in God in exactly his way, you're going to hell.  Who are we to say that we know the only path forward and have the right to dictate it to the world?  Heck, that's why I love the Unitarians. ;-)

        Frankly, the world would be far better off without either organized religion or nationalism, in my book.  Why don't we realize that we're all in this together no matter where we came from or what god we believe in?  Focus on the here and now and making it better for all of us, not just a select few.

      •  Here is where we disagree (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, oldpunk, Pozzo
        You are entitled to think
        "My country, right or wrong" ... It's a common view although real thinkers think through that.
        The idea that there is one vision, or a common view for what American Exceptionalism is almost as true as saying  that we all have an American Dream. Well what is the American Dream? It varies by person, there isn't one view.
        The very idea that one need not look at other countries, other cultures for ideas and inspiration because that is not "The American Way".
        Fringe beliefs do not represent what this country is about, and what is continues to stand for. Every American has heritage from somewhere else, which is why we are called the Melting Pot. Our livelihood is getting things/people from other lands.
        The idea that if it is not American it is, by definition, inferior.
        See above comment.
        That involves listening too.
        I read, read it again, read your comments, I still disagree. And hopefully that is OK with you.I do not see American Exceptionalism as the misconception that you have conveyed, again it is from personal experience as living proof that American Exceptionalism exists is why I disagree.

        Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

        by YoungArizonaLiberal on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:19:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreeing with me (9+ / 0-)

          will never be compulsory :)

          I think, if you looked, you might find that the idea of "American Exceptionalism", as described by me and others, is rather more widely held than you think.

          America is deeply insular. I don't necessarily blame American citizens for that as the US is rather a long way from most of the world, and travel is not cheap.

          It's not unreasonable, given your history, that Americans grew to rely on their own initiative. But it IS the fault of your leaders that this idea has been allowed to grow.

          They do not look outside, they do not travel much, and they do not listen to others ... ever!

          If that continues the world will simply go on without the US, and the world will not be the losers.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:28:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Insular is the perfect word. (0+ / 0-)

            America believes she can devise a better policy, contrive a better plan or construct a better innovation than any other country on the face of the earth.  Sometimes that's true, but because the country is indeed insular, we never hear when it's not true.  The latest example is our politicians' absolute refusal to consider any other country's method of delivering health care to all its population.

            The internet is changing the U.S. perspective of how she fits in with the rest of the world, but not fast enough to keep us from making mistakes that other countries have already worked through.

            George W. Bush's administration was not right about much, but when they contended that they created their own reality, they could have been referring to the country as a whole.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 06:02:56 PM PST

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        •  you're trying to make an argument (12+ / 0-)

          about the term 'American exceptionalism' without giving your own definition of it. could you do so? the definitions above (USA USA USA and 'my country right or wrong) are basically accurate. that's what 'exceptionalism' is. that mindless swagger, the bullying boastfulness which typically characterizes the military aspects of our foreign policy (and often economic policy).

          it's OK for America to drop atomic bombs. no one else though. it's OK for us to stock and keep chemical weapons, to use them on students protesting, etc. no one else though. it's OK for us to crash the world economy and say "hey, our bad, the poor people here took out too many loans, and you'll never get your $$ back, but invest in us anyway cause what else are you gonna do?" no one else though.

          what the term simply means is that if America does it, it's right. no matter how wrong it actually is. I've never heard a different definition of American exceptionalism than that. that is what it means.

          •  My definition differs from yours because of the (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slouchsock, oldpunk, Pozzo, buddabelly

            comments I left and my personal experience with the term. I do not think that there is a finite definition, it depends on the person; the same way that the American Dream cannot be a finite definition.

            American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries.The United States has been known as the "land of opportunity," and in this sense, it prided and promoted itself on providing individuals with the opportunity to escape from the contexts of their class and family background.
            I'll say this again, my view of American Exceptionalism lies in that this place is like no other because of my personal experiences! For all of you who keep telling me that I need to sit down, shut up, and listen, you ought to do the same! My belief in American Exceptionalism does not lie in my ability to make excuses for this nation, but that this nation provided open arms for opportunity that no other was willing to give. Many of you don't see it as I do, and probably never will. That is fine. A modern political view of the ideal is clouding your ability to see what it really is.

            Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

            by YoungArizonaLiberal on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:54:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  what you're saying there (6+ / 0-)

              are just general feeling good about America, though. you are leaving the "exceptionalism" completely out of 'American exceptionalism". I'm not telling you to sit down and shut up and I will take no order from you to do the same in return.

              you're the one telling people their definition is wrong, and you still haven't given one for the term or any support to your idea that the conventionally accepted definition of the term is wrong. you can't make much of an argument without doing those things.

            •  There are throngs -- millions upon millions -- (15+ / 0-)

              of Americans who will not have opportunity in this land.

              Being literally rescued and transported to a new country can inspire some pretty wonderful feelings about that country.

              But how is that country treating everyone already here?

              There are success stories from third-world country folks who have been relocated to many lands of the world.  That your story happens to be taking place within the USA is wonderful and I, personally, am glad things went well for you.

              However, when Americans die of blood infections from an untreated tooth cavity, it is pretty hard to feel that the country is being run in the proper manner. There are literally millions of variations on that theme:  Americans who have nowhere to turn, whose options have run out, who are left behind by the nation of their birth may not feel like things are so exceptional.

              What a Police State Looks Like: "On one side: soft human flesh, unprotected human skulls, cardboard signs, slogans they chant, armed with belief in 1st Amendment rights. On the other: helmets, body armor, guns, batons, chemical weapons." -- JanetRhodes

              by YucatanMan on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 09:05:03 PM PST

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            •  I appreciate you probably don't mean to do this (7+ / 0-)

              but you are insulting a lot of other countries with your statements.  Growing up in Canada I can tell you the attitude that the United States is 'qualitatively different from other countries' in providing an 'opportunity to escape from the contexts of the their class and family background' infuriates a lot of people.

              My grandfather's family came to Canada in 1910 from England.  They were working class people.  My grandfather was the first person in his family to ever attend university and went on to become a very successful Civil Engineer, designing a major hydroelectric project and getting an honorary doctorate at the end of his career.  The US is certainly not unique in being a country that has given opportunity to immigrants.

               I've lived in the US over half my life (virtually all of my adult life) and there are things I love about it and things that obviously could use a lot of improving.

              "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

              by matching mole on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 05:14:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Was your grandfather a refugee? (0+ / 0-)

                Probably not. Like I said several times, America is Exceptional because while other countries sat on their hands, America took charge, and continues to do so. We have amazing potential--a few right wingers doesn't change that view. If I am insulting other countries by saying that America was the only one to take my family into refuge, then fine! My view lies in my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with this country, I didn't say that is what other people should believe or why we should make excuses for America's bad decisions. When a place takes you when you are down in the pits with unconscionable circumstances then builds you up, of course you are going to be happy and proud of the cause of your success. That is what I said, that is what I told the diarist, and if I have to make a thousand comments saying the same thing, then fine.

                Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

                by YoungArizonaLiberal on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:05:28 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  er ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  itsbenj
                  Like I said several times, America is Exceptional because while other countries sat on their hands, America took charge, and continues to do so.
                  Which countries, pray tell, "sat on their hands", and who the hell elected America in charge of anything?

                  I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                  but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                  by twigg on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:54:33 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Twigg, I was referring to my situation. (0+ / 0-)

                    Notice how I haven't referred to anything such as justification for war or anything of that matter. That is what everyone else is talking about. I was talking about my personal experience with the US. Everyone who has commented to me has projected things that I haven't said, or assume that I mean that I am cheerleading for the US to bomb every country, that isn't what I said. If that is where you want this conversation to go, then I concede, I'm done.

                    Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

                    by YoungArizonaLiberal on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 12:31:33 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  OK (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  twigg, itsbenj

                  1) According to this site Canada has over 5 times as many refugees per 1000 people as does the US.  

                  2) The reason you are getting so much flack is that you are making statements that are framed to be objective and then claiming that they are just your experience.  If you said something like 'In my opinion the US is the greatest country in the world because it did this great thing for my family' or 'The US is a great country' then I wouldn't have thought twice about it.  I'm happy that the US was so good to your family and that you have made a great life here.

                  But what you say is that the US is unique in offering this kind of aid and opportunity.  And that simply isn't true.  And unless you've been a refugee in multiple countries you can't make that kind of claim from personal experience.  I know that the US was the only country to offer your family assistance but there are plenty of other families out there whose families were not offered refugee status by the US but were instead by Sweden or Australia or Canada or....

                  I guess what I am trying to say is that you can't claim a country is exceptional or unique based on your individual experience.  Those are not subjective qualities they are comparative.

                  "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

                  by matching mole on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 01:12:42 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  I only chant that when the USA plays England (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, Utahrd, DruidQueen

        and manages a tie because the goalie has butterfingers:)

    •  YAL, you have a different experience than most (9+ / 0-)

      on here. Most on here have immigrant ancestors, some closer than others. However, you are closer to it than most. I also think your youth may not allow you to have experienced what others of  us have.

      Like you, twigg was not born here, but it's where his family and heart are. Sure, American afforded you a lot of opportunity, but you said yourself you came from a developing nation. America has not been progressing for a few decades, twigg is spot on in that regard.

      I would appreciate your willingness to put more effort into understanding him. I did not find his comments offensive. I don't know what American Exceptionalism is except words used to beat the president over the head with because Republicans since Nixon are really terrible at governing.

      American's strength and saving grace has always been the immigrants. The current xenophobia is hurting us.

      If you do not believe that there is an ongoing war on women, then you aren't paying attention. h/t The Pootie Potentate

      by glorificus on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:04:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glorificus: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, Pozzo
        America has not been progressing for a few decades, twigg is spot on in that regard.
        You don't think so? I do. America hasn't progressed for a few decades? Which is why I am allowed college admission, why I can see faces like mine in my classes, why I can see a face like mine as the Leader of our country, why my parents were able to attend an American University and receive financial aid that helped them create a life for their children?

        We can run in circles around this all night. I disagree with the diarist. I believe that American Exceptionalism exists. My family's story is living proof of that. The words of a few have not changed the shining light that has been shone over the darkness that preceded above us.

        By the way, I wish that I chose a different username. I constantly have my comments brushed aside based on the fact that I am younger than most posters here. Now my ethnicity is known, ergo, I do not expect my comments to be respected as it would if my words were written by others. This is the sad truth that all of you are missing. Personal stories should be valued above Pundits and Fringe Leaders. They do not represent us and I have a hard time seeing the picture that the diarist painted in reality.

        Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

        by YoungArizonaLiberal on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:28:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am not brushing you aside. (7+ / 0-)

          I also think that your access to college will be even more severely restricted than it currently is for many, if the Right has its way.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:36:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Please do not think your words will be judged less (8+ / 0-)

          anyone else's. I'm glad your personal story is so successful. And I'm not talking about "Pundits and Fringe Leaders", I'm talking about what I have seen, as is Twigg.

          Regarding college admissions, look at the last 30 years. I don't know, because I don't really follow that, but I don't think non-whites have been doing that great.

          You are the American Dream embodied. You came here and grabbed for the brass ring with both hands. Good for you.

          Great strides were made in 1970s. The 1980s were the Greed is Good decade. Yes, I do see this country going backward. 9/11 provided the authoritarian assholes with an excuse and no one stopped them.

          I'm glad you are happy here. So am I, but I can see what has and is being lost.

          If you do not believe that there is an ongoing war on women, then you aren't paying attention. h/t The Pootie Potentate

          by glorificus on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 06:50:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is because of my belief in our exceptionalism (0+ / 0-)

            that I fight for issues that I think will make everyday better for everyone and provide an environment where thousands of people can come here and experience what we have.

            As for college admissions, you only need to look at the increasing diversity of schools, increased education, increased income and literacy level of non-whites to see how things have progressed in 30 years.

            Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

            by YoungArizonaLiberal on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 07:00:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sample of one (8+ / 0-)

          There are people in Brazil and the Netherlands and Sweden and, hell, even France and the UK who would speak as glowingly of their experiences there and who, were they to compare experiences with you, would be forced to ask:

          "Your parents put up with that shit?"
          And, know what? While glad for what they've received, they would not propound for some magnificent 'exceptionalism' where they are.

          An expression of exceptionalism is - by definition - an expression of insecurity.

          Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

          by Clem Yeobright on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 07:11:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is a tendency (8+ / 0-)

            for all peoples to do a bit of this.

            The French with their haughty superiority, the Brits don't shout it, but they feel pretty smug at times ... The Germans .. they have real identity problems but the youth are far more assured (in a good way).

            The Italians? We buy there handbags and shoes, but no one listens to them :)

            The difference is that those countries, and others, don't try to export their "exceptionalism", another word for which is "Imperialism".

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            by twigg on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 07:17:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I watched a French film last night (6+ / 0-)

              and the lead character said (predictably)

              "x happened and I knew I was in France".
              The defining characteristic of AE, I think, is the attitude that
              "Everyone could do as we do and be so much happier  if they just practiced our virtues  as they could"
              while in other countries in my experience the attitude is
              "It works for us and that's good enough for us."
              That's 'exceptionalistic' too, of course, but so much more agreeably so.

              Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

              by Clem Yeobright on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 07:27:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  If you are talking about American "opportunity" (14+ / 0-)

          fine.  It does however get a little tiresome when you hear Americans declare that "only in America" could this person achieve this or that or "only in America" could this or that happen when the very same thing happens as frequently in our countries.  For example, in Canada we had a head of state, our Governor General who came to Canada as a Haitian refugee.  Only in Canada?  I can think of a few other countries where that could happen.  We've had a female Prime Minister.  The British had a female Prime Minister who was one of the most consequential political leaders in the last half of the century. Plus the belief that you're exceptional prevents you learning anything from others.  Why learn from others if everything you do and have is the best.  Tiresome.

        •  Being an old foagy I can honestly say that (10+ / 0-)

          this nation has moved backwards for well over 30 years.

          There have been several opportunities to take severe challenges and turn our gaze toward a better future. I'll give you one:  9/11.

          Bush could have used that moment to inspire the nation and lead us towards total energy independence.  What kind of place would the USA be today if we were 1/2 way or 3/4 way to energy independence with a modernized, intelligent power infrastructure and massive conservation measures already taken, making the USA the single most energy efficient nation on earth?

          The nation hungered for "something to do" afterwards. People desperately wanted to be involved, to join together, to recover and rebuild together.  ....  and all Bush told us - literally - was "go shopping."  

          If that isn't moving backward from a terrible catastrophe, I don't know what is.

          What a Police State Looks Like: "On one side: soft human flesh, unprotected human skulls, cardboard signs, slogans they chant, armed with belief in 1st Amendment rights. On the other: helmets, body armor, guns, batons, chemical weapons." -- JanetRhodes

          by YucatanMan on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 09:11:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Adsf (8+ / 0-)

          You are confusing American exceptionalism as in your experience with American exceptionalism the doctrine as used by politicians. Your experience is great and I am glad for you. It is inarguable that the USA has been great to millions of immigrants but the USA is not unique in that respect. My grandparents emigrated to Venezuela from Spain in the 30s and my parents can tell a similar story to yours but in a different country. My parent's story is similar to many others that went to places like Venezuela and Argentina. My personal story is similar to twigg's in that what brought me here in the first place was love, love for my wife.

          If I may, the mistake that you are making is you are using a narrow and personal definition of "American exceptionalism" when in the political context that expression is a lot more loaded. I also believe that you are misunderstanding twigg's post judging from your reaction.

    •  I see what you're saying... (14+ / 0-)

      And I'm thrilled that you've had the positive experience you have with my homeland.

      To explain some of the confusion around American Exceptionalism, it is a term that is widely employed by neoconservatives and the like, the idea being that America has a special place in history ordained by God and that we are therefore justified in ignoring international law, showing total disregard for the consequences of our actions and in general acting like we are the only country that matters.  In this context, it is NOT the completely understandable belief that America has many wonderful and unique features that make it a place worth living in and defending.  I think most people here are not trying to challenge the term on the grounds that America is a bad place, but merely that the degree to which we sometimes advance our perceived interests over the interests of other nations, as well as the larger human family, is arguably not a thing which represents the best qualities our nation possesses.

      Iraq was an excellent illustration of this principle.  It was American Exceptionalism in its purest form, right down to our outright refusal to learn anything about the culture of the place before we went in and started swinging sledgehammers.  In the preamble to war, Bush was seemingly unaware of the Sunni/Shia divide at all, as though knowledge of the most basic social divide in Iraqi society wasn’t something particularly important for a would be nation builder to have.  Or refusal to do anything to curb our greenhouse gas emissions is another, especially given that we are the biggest producer of them (China might have overtaken us in the last year or so, but this debate is far older than that) and have the greatest amount of resources that could be brought to bear on the problem.  There was a time when we might have justified this behavior by pointing out that we were defending the free world from Nazis, or Communists a few years later, but those arguments ring a bit hollow these days.

      I also have to point out that, while the U.S. clearly played a positive role in the lives of you and your family, I'm fairly certain the families of the Chileans killed by Pinochet might have a different view entirely, as well as the Iranians who endured the Shah’s rule.  You see, sometimes we oppose the dictators and other times we destroy functioning democracies in order to install them.  We go both ways like that, sometimes for dubious reasons.

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