D’Souza’s Imperial Delusions

Stanley Fish did an interview with Dinesh D’Souza about the subject of his documentary about President Obama and the idiotic notion that Obama’s “anti-colonialism” makes him hate America and seek to intentionally push the nation into decline. D’Souza claims that America is way better than all those bad old empires it replaced:

S.F.: Some posters were dismissive of the idea of “American exceptionalism.” They wondered what the phrase meant and suspected that it was a rhetorical device enabling the United States to justify actions it would condemn if they were performed by other nations. What, in your view, is so exceptional about America?

D.D.: My definition of American exceptionalism is one of identifying the ways in which America is unique in the world. First of all, America is unique in being a country founded, in a sense, by a group of people sitting around a table. Other countries have been founded by “accidents of force.” America is a creation of thought. A second aspect of American exceptionalism is that while in other countries citizenship is a function of birth and blood, you become an American by assimilating to a certain way of life, a certain aspiration. And third, America has been a kinder, gentler superpower than traditional empires have been. What does the doctrine of American exceptionalism empower the United States to do? Nothing more than to act better than traditional empires — committed to looting and conquest — have done. So that’s American exceptionalism, an exceptionalism based on noble ideas, ideas that it holds itself to even when it falls short of them.

This is staggeringly delusional. Our dealings with the rest of the world have hardly been motivated by “noble ideas.” D’Souza should talk to the millions of victims of America’s traditional support for brutal dictators around the world. Talk to the thousands of families in Chile who were victims of Gen. Pinochet’s barbaric regime. Or to the victims of Rios Montt in Guatemala and his fanatical campaign of rape and murder, especially of indigenous people in that country. Or the victims of Batista in Cuba, the Shah in Iran, Saddam Hussein (who was our favorite dictator until we suddenly discovered — wink wink — that he was a bad guy after he invaded Kuwait), Somoza in Nicaragua, Mobutu in Zaire and a couple dozen others. None of this was done for “noble ideas,” it was done for money and control.

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