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View Diary: Being an American citizen is complicated (63 comments)

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  •  I think if America is 'exceptional' at all it's (0+ / 0-)

    that this country is unusually ideational: ie, it's NOT based on a single ethnic or historical-linguistic identity the way nearly all other historical great-powers have been; it's almost not a nation-state as that term is usually defined.  For the European colonizers, north America represented some set of Ideas: either the Idea of financial opportunity or (and/or) the Idea of some new place to set up their religious-political utopias.  And obviously the Idea of political and/or economic opportunity has continued to drive immigration ever since.  I can guarantee you that EVERY current and former world-power nation around the globe thinks of itself as 'exceptional', in some way---but usually the idea of "what does it mean to be.." French, or Spanish, or Egyptian, or Chinese, or Japanese, or Indian, is answered with reference to some fairly long, shared cultural history, with whatever attendant mythology and plus or minus a few foreign occupations, centuries of colonization, etc.  We have nothing like that.  The U.S. got incredibly fortunate in the intersection of geography, several centuries of European history (esp English, Spanish, French), and technological development (esp vis-à-vis Native Americans).   Otherwise god knows what the "United States of America" would look like, if anything at all.   In a way, being an American citizen means thou dost protest too much.  Which maybe this diary is saying?    

    •  Of course, every one of those other historical (0+ / 0-)

      powers was ALSO born, at some point, out of (typically) violent conquest and subjugation or extermination of prior inhabitants--but it seems to make a qualitative difference in current national-idea that this happened one or two or three millennia ago, rather than in recent recorded (and to some extent still lived) history.  I think the Anglo-Saxon British are still protesting too much, themselves, with their meager 1500 years of insecure ownership of that island...

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