by Paul Balles
We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health lawyers destroy justice universities destroy knowledge governments destroy freedom the press destroys information religion destroys morals and our banks destroy the economy. –Chris Hedges
Paul Schied, commenting in the Harvard Political Review writes, “American Exceptionalism argues that the United States is the best at everything. This isn’t true. Therefore, American Exceptionalism is bunk”
Many Americans express pride in American exceptionalism; but much of that is nothing to be proud of. We’re ignorant and indifferent, deceived and deceptive, warmongers and empire builders.
Ignorant and Indifferent:
Rick Shenkman, Editor-in-Chief of the History News Network, published a book entitled Just How Stupid Are We?. He demonstrates, among other things, that most Americans are: (1) ignorant about major international events, (2) know little about how their own government runs and who runs it, (3) are nonetheless willing to accept government positions and policies even though a moderate amount of critical thought suggests they are bad for the country, and (4) are readily swayed by stereotyping, simplistic solutions, irrational fears and public relations babble.
Deceived and Deceptive:
Jean Bricmont and Diana Johnstone describe America’s deceivers: “In its zeal to serve what it considers Israel’s interests, AIPAC and its affiliates practice deception concerning the issues at stake. The lobby misrepresents the interests of the United States, and even ignores the long term interests of the Jewish people whom it often claims to represent.”
MSNBC Rachel Maddow and other news anchors boast about how they “bring the news from all angles and all points of view.” I’m not sure what the difference is between all angles and all points of view to them; but the network anchors do neither.
Anyone who’s been following the fate of whistleblowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden has surely become frightfully aware of how deceptive the NSA (National Security Agency) has been spying on people, companies and governments around the world.
Warmongers and Empire Builders:
Bishop Desmond Tutu, on the leadership that got America into a murderous war with Iraq, asks “If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?”
According to Paul Craig Roberts, “The US is the only country in the world that has attacked 8 countries in 12 years, murdering and dispossessing millions of Muslims all on the basis of lies. This is not an exceptionalism of which to be proud.”
Comments Chris Hedges,” Many of us who are here carry within us death. The smell of decayed and bloated corpses. The cries of the wounded. The shrieks of children. The sound of gunfire. The deafening blasts. The fear. The stench of cordite. The humiliation that comes when you surrender to terror and beg for life. The loss of comrades and friends. And then the aftermath. The long alienation. The numbness. The nightmares. The lack of sleep. The inability to connect to all living things, even to those we love the most. The regret. The repugnant lies mouthed around us about honour and heroism and glory. The absurdity. The waste. The futility.”
Observes James Petras, “The decisions to militarize US global policy requires vast budgetary re-allocation, slashing social spending to fund empire-building; shredding public health and social security to bailout Wall Street. These are policies which greatly enhance profits for bankers and corporations while imposing regressive taxes on wage and salaried workers.”
It’s high time for America to replace its shameful exceptionalism with exceptional behaviour it can be rightly proud of.