Thursday, September 29, 2011

American unexceptionalism

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

-- Declaration of Independence,
July 4, 1776


Throughout its 235 years as a nation-state, the United States of America has done many remarkable things.

Amid that exceptionality stands the glaring absence of something that would be exceptional, indeed. Living up to our foundational principles . . . and our advertising.

From the scourge of slavery to the near-genocide of the American Indian, from Jim Crow to the Japanese internment, from the excesses of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century to the excesses of the Jazz Age of the 1920s . . . and now the massive societal inequality and Wall Street thievery of today, one thing we Americans have been remarkably consistent about is our rank hypocrisy. And that's not exceptional at all -- that's remarkably ordinary.



IN FACT, those who govern the affairs of the United States -- unelected capitalists and the elected officials they rent -- have come to resemble more a "Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant" than they do the rebellious colonials of 1776.

Today's tea partiers have considered this and decided, in the name of "liberty," that somebody "is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Unfortunately, their ill-willed and often grammatically challenged rebellion takes dead aim at the "life" and "the pursuit of happiness" of a supermajority of Americans.

I hold these truths to be self-evident. If you do not, you might yet if you look at the data and past the self-delusion of American exceptionalism, a Hypocrite's Gospel preached by some for all they're worth and believed by others because it's less challenging than the one preached long ago by some pinko Nazarean hippie freak.

2 comments:

Richard L. Kent, Esq. (MichiganSilverback at gmail dot com) said...

You need to talk to the man who, sobbing, thanked me (and Bill Clinton!) for saving his family by ending the Bosnian war.

You will note nobody else did.

We're hypocrites? of course we're hypocrites. The entire human race without exception is made up of hypocrites.

The only non-hypocrites I've ever heard of were the Nazis: they did precisely what they'd say they would. I'll pass.

The Mighty Favog said...

Which is my point. We are absolutely unexceptional in our raving hypocrisy.

Our hypocrisy which compels us to proclaim how exceptional we are as we humanly fail to live up to our own advertising.

Humility is the usual cure for this. We can try it on for size, or the universe will put it on us regardless, rather like a straightjacket.