I believe(d) in the greatness of America and its people, but that belief has been shaken somewhat with the surge of racism and Islamophobia sweeping the country. Frankly, it has caused more than a little doubt in me, especially when viewed in the context of it’s been going on for sometime and we still don’t seem to get it, or get it right.
Browsing through my list of blogs, I ran across this post which has me thinking about this idea of American exceptionalism and I agree with what the writer wrote. Here are some excerpts (please support citizenship media; it’s a far cry better than corporate media)
the greatness of the American people is not only a myth but an extremely destructive one.
The myth is most notably promoted by your so-called leaders, who by its use demonstrate quite clearly that they know more about you than you know about them. In particular, they know that flattery will get them everywhere, because you are far too ignorant, far too arrogant, too inward-looking, too self-absorbed, too addicted to your daily fiction, to ever vote for anyone so bold as to tell you the truth about yourself, your country and its role in the world, or the body politic itself — of which you are a vanishingly insignificant member.
Instead they talk about how proud they are to be American, and how proud you are to be American, and how they know the great people of this great nation will support them in their great campaign to become the next great president, senator, congressman, governor, attorney general, dog-catcher, or whatever. God Bless America, this great and wonderful country. Or something.
The myth of the greatness of the American people is — to use Lincoln’s famous words — altogether fitting and proper under the circumstances, which is to say it is necessary to the American political landscape for several interconnected reasons. In addition to the most transparent of flattery, the myth provides invaluable support for American exceptionalism, the mass-murderous fiction according to which the United States is never obliged to acknowledge — or apologize for — or rectify — the damage it does to the rest of the world, where it slaughters innocent people by the millions and poisons square miles of landscape by the hundreds of thousands, all in the name of spreading democracy, or stability, or prosperity, or security, or whatever they think you’ll believe next year.
the myth also obscures the reality of American prosperity: that it is not solely or even primarily the product of American ingenuity and the inherent greatness of the American people, but of brute force, brutally applied. The story of American wealth begins with a continent rich in natural resources, devoid of natural enemies and protected from the rest of the world by two oceans, conquered through genocide and developed by slavery, fed by the most rapid destruction of resources mankind has ever seen, and growing by hammering the rest of the world, murdering innocent people and stealing the resources to which the victims and their progeny should have been entitled. For this you congratulate yourselves, and your politicians congratulate you, as righteous Christians whose worldly wealth signifies your holiness. Or something.
But no, your so-called leaders will never tell you any of this, and neither will your so-called news media. And even though the plain and horrible truth is available — and always has been — in your local library, and — relatively recently — on the best (read: least-popular) internet sites, you mostly choose to avoid it. And this avoidance is altogether fitting and proper as well, since your continuing denial allows you to go on about your life in “peace” and “quiet”, secure in the “knowledge” that regardless of whatever trouble awaits you and your country, your inherent greatness — and that of your friends and neighbors — will certainly come to the rescue, if only it can be awakened. Or something.
The one saving grace for my sanity, the item that keeps me from jumping off the nearest bridge is the “system” does work, that people can and do overcome by way of using the tools this system provides,yet at great cost to themselves to their lives and the lives of their loved ones and an even greater cost to the American body politic. That people do prevail, I assert, is due as much to the human spirit as to the political system.
There are groups of Americans today who are far better off than they were 200 years ago; granted those who were at the top of the social hierarchy then still are predominant today and they still seek to maintain that standing over everyone else, but there’s hope that with struggle a balance can be achieved. Or maybe not….