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View Diary: Devil's Advocate: Other Countries Think America is Exceptional Too (35 comments)

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  •  Nor do I. (0+ / 0-)

    But if most people understand "American exceptionalism" to mean that America deserves -- or demands -- a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card, that it's really no wonder that people talk about it so much, and your challenge becomes almost self-contradictory in nature.

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:13:41 PM PST

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    •  I don't see that being the case. (1+ / 0-)
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      isabelle hayes

      We must always challenge ourselves.  To challenge is to be challenged.  The right way to deal with the problematic version of American Exceptionalism is to demand that the US either live up to its rhetoric or deal with the drabness of its reality.  But at the same time, the people issuing the challenge have to recognize that they wouldn't be bothering if they didn't really believe it could live up to its rhetoric.  It has done so in the past, it can do so again.

      Pour yourself into the future.

      by Troubadour on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:24:56 PM PST

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      •  But if "the people issuing the challenge" (0+ / 0-)

        are the people that you're suggesting should no longer be talking about this country, then, as I said, your challenge is at least somewhat self-contradictory. Why should they stop critiquing this country when, by your comment here, they have some reason to hope that their critiques might lead to a positive outcome?

        (And if these are not the same groups of people, then I'm just very confused about what or whom you're referring to. Which may well be my confusion, and not your own.)

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:31:31 PM PST

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        •  The fact that I believe America can live up (0+ / 0-)

          to its rhetoric is not really important.  I'm just one guy.  But what is the point of criticizing exceptionalism if you don't believe that?  If it's truly delusional, then reality will inexorably make a fool of those who believe in it without the obsessive attention of critics.  The only reason to attack it is if one thinks it could be lived up to, but then it's still irrational because it's not a reasonable way to motivate people.  Belittling people's self-image is not a reasonable way to make them excel.

          Pour yourself into the future.

          by Troubadour on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:39:03 PM PST

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          •  It depends on what they're criticizing (0+ / 0-)

            when they criticize American exceptionalism.

            Go back to my first comment: When a citizen of France (just to pick one example) criticizes American exceptionalism, are they criticizing the  idea that American is nobler in purpose than other nations? Or are they criticizing the (alleged) fact that America is nobler than other nations? Or is it the idea that America is not subject to the law of nations, because America is an exceptional nation?

            I would venture a guess that when the criticism comes from outside of our borders, it's closest to that third kind of critique. And in that case, it's not really a question of getting America to live up to its ideals; it's more an issue of getting America to notice that it has ideals that it might want to try to live up to. In other words, from their perspective, "American exceptionalism" is the bull in a china shop -- or perhaps, it's the fool who brought the bull into the china shop. They critique it because they have no other hope of stopping it; they critique it because they see no other choice.

            (Perhaps it would bring some clarity to this conversation if you could point me to some of the critiques that you're referring to?)

            Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

            by Nowhere Man on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:54:46 PM PST

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            •  The problem is...why do they care at all? (0+ / 0-)

              The worst version of American exceptionalism certainly doesn't threaten France, Britain, or Germany.  In very real terms, the United States is a child of these countries and all their strengths and flaws.  And not one of them were morally coherent enough to politically resist the worst excesses of it: There were no trade sanctions during the Bush regime, no recall of ambassadors at the invasion of Iraq - just chiding in editorials and a refraining from active support.  I think it's reasonable to say that the United States is the world's first and only meta-country, embodying the flaws and strengths of all combined.  That makes it exceptional, though all the more important to confront and deal with its problems.

              Pour yourself into the future.

              by Troubadour on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:22:27 PM PST

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