Deconstructing American Exceptionalism

The other night the President argued: “America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

President Obama invoked our exceptionalism that we, the United States, since we are uniquely virtuous, should, if we can, be the world’s conscience, and when called upon in circumstances we must act. And so our President shames us, the American people, into acting by arguing: “And so, to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.”

The President claims that the cause is plainly just: by bombing a country that we are not at war with (and that cannot threaten us) this will surely stop them from using chemical weapons. In order to save that country we must bomb it. And for us, on the left, we should just get over our moral qualms, sometimes violence works as a deterrent. We should trust and believe our government that these bombs will surely dissuade Syria and other like-minded types to resist the temptation to use these weapons.

Well, I won’t be shamed into this bombing, and I don’t buy the argument that the U.S. is somehow exceptional in our virtue and that we, among all nations, should bear the moral conscience of the globe. Think about that, the President mentioned “humility,” how is this project a project of humility?

In fact, it’s not “us,” those on the right or left, that need to be ashamed, it’s the history of the United States that needs to be tamed and disenchanted. We, the United States of America, have used chemical weapons from World War II through the Vietnam War, over and over again, in ways that are as stark as the picture below. That little girl, Kim Phuc, survived and has had to deal with the continuing pain from her injuries from U.S. Napalm for her whole life. She is a hero, who has gone on to work for a more peaceful future.

But it wasn’t just Kim Phuc, the United States, as Laurence O’Donnell’s report detailed the other night, we invented and perfected the use of Napalm and used it relentlessly on Dresden in WW II, on Korea and in Vietnam. Tons and tons of this “cheap” nerve gas was used because it “worked,” getting deep into human tissue, and generating heat of over 800 to 1200 degrees Celsius. As O’Donnell’s relates, as we watched this chemical weapon work in Vietnam, “Our moral superiority in war slipped away.”

Following Vietnam, the United Nations instituted a ban on the use of Napalm against civilian populations. This “new” red line prevented what the U.S. did from ever happening again. However, it took the U.S. 29 years to sign it, and it is still legal to use Napalm against the military targets. As O’Donnell rightly argues, “We will never make war civilized, no matter what kinds of weapons we use. War is the failure of civilization.”

So, no, I won’t be shamed and I won’t just say, “Oh yes, the U.S. is the exceptional nation, and we should then be the one to do the business of telling and showing the world what they should and should not do.” I don’t buy it and I’m not convinced that this is what we should do.

Juan Cole’s analysis of the President’s speech and proposal was crisp and to the point: “Given that a military attack on Syria is an act of war that could have unforeseen negative consequences for the US, given that a few cruise missiles are not in fact likely to be a powerful deterrent, and given that the US is on the wrong side of international law and has almost no effective allies in such an action, it seems to me unwise and even illegal. Obama’s invocation of American exceptionalism (which historians consider a flaw, not a virtue, in American history) is intended to paper over this illegality.”

Cole then argues for a non-violent approach: “The fact is that the US could inflict far more pain on the Syrian government with nonviolent means such as tightening the financial boycott on its banks, than it could with a few missile strikes. President Obama should show some backbone and buck the war party inside the Beltway, and insist on non-violent but effective punishment of Damascus for its atrocity, instead of the somewhat juvenile insistence that “action” equals violent action.”

Americans and our President, in particular, need to stop invoking our “exceptionalism.” It is not only a lie, but it is a way of selling us on the idea that violence can and will be redemptive. It has been shown that since 1963 the U.S. has bombed people on average every 40 months. How has this violence been redemptive? How can our actions be called exceptional?

It’s time for Americans to rise up and call an end to this madness. To tell the President we must become truly exceptional not by turning to violence, but by not using bombs, by not thinking we have all the answers. By using other means, non-violent ones, to encourage peace, to undercut the terrible civil wars that now kill and maim so many.

This would be exceptional: that the globe’s world power no longer claims to be exceptional; who now uses nonviolent means to resolve problems. This would make history: a humble approach and an approach that as a people who purport to be Christian, we can actually begin to live out the words and actions of the one who we supposedly claim to follow.

 

 

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  • http://blogvermelho.net/ SchroderEUA

    Perfect!

  • Julie Monroe Bastuk

    Well said!

  • mountainguy

    Hello Mr Wellmann, here is some of American Exceptionalism in Mark Tooley attacking Shane Caliborne and Stanley Hauerwas for daring to suggest 11 september 2001 was not the first tragig 9/11:

    http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/its-time-for-mark-tooley-to-stop-bullying-stanley-hauerwas-and-other-pacifists/

    original here:

    http://juicyecumenism.com/2013/09/11/shane-claiborne-chile-and-the-first-9-11/

  • JamesStripes

    American exceptionalism is not a flaw in our history, it is a flawed view of our history. We are not exceptional in our self-government, nor in our individual freedom. We are not exceptional in our commitments to freedom, nor in the ways that we suppressed those of indigenous peoples and of imported slave labor. For every major element of U.S. history–just and unjust–there are parallels in other lands.

  • tanyam

    Thank you. You needn’t have reached back to Viet Nam however, you could have discussed more recent use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium.

  • dennis

    To say we are “exceptional” is saying everyone else is below us, that we must show others how to live, that everyone else should bow down and serve us. Exactly the opposite of what Jesus called us to do as His servants.

  • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

    my godness you are reallly dumb. i’m sorry to be so blunt and in a negative way but you are. have you ever heard of alexis de tocqueville? have you ever read “democracy in america”? have you ever heard of “democracy in america?” this is where the term and it’s meaning originate. it’s been around for almost 200 years. do a quick wikipedia search of it and the term to learn more about something you CLEARLY do not understand and worst of all seem to want to mock and belittle who and what you clearly know little about. i’ll give you the first meaning of the word and you can learn the rest for yourself. it means . . . that america (not americans) but the country, america, is a QUALITATIVELY different country, certainly than the england that we divorced ourselves from and to france (de tocqueville’s home country) our biggest ally and all the other western countries in europe at the time. much about the origins of america, from our constitution (the only one in the world at that time), to popular sovereignty, an emphasis on individual rights, federalism and the separation of powers and the belief in natural rights above all that we were and i hope we still are a most exceptional country. next time you want to put foot in mouth, do your homework first!

    • kwdayboise

      Actually “American exceptionalism” as a phrase was coined by Stalin and never appears in de Tocqueville. If you do an ngram search on Google you’ll find it never appears before 1930. If you can explain what a rant about the separation of powers has to do with the rest of this subject I’ll be stunned.

      • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

        anagram searches on google . . . this is your source? you’ve never read “democracy in america” have you boise? because if you had, and understood it, you would know that the entire idea of what and why america is different (from europe, from england and from his home country france . . . and is likely to remain so) is apparent in just about every chapter (http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-America-Penguin-Classics-Tocqueville/dp/0140447601). simply scan the contents and read the titles to the chapters and you’ll see “why the americans show more (this), why americans are more (that)” and on and on and on. does he himself state the words “american exceptionalism?” no. i didn’t say he did. i said that the term (as we who know what it means) originates here and because his book is still widely recognized today almost 200 years later, and was one of the first such studies by a foreigner about this new country with a new value system it is worth re-reading and understanding. if you can explain what an anagram search on google has to do with a classic book whose text and ideas predate it by more than a century and a half, i’ll be stunned!

        • https://www.facebook.com/JamesKWellman James Wellman

          In a 50 page published article, my grad student and I point out that something changed, rather dramatically over the last hundred years in American foreign policy. The roots of it are in De Tocqueville in part, but the neoconservativism of our present time, and here I believe Obama is now participating in this monstrosity, is quite a new animal.
          Before throwing out ad hominens, please read:
          Thompson,S.R. and James K. Wellman, Jr. 2011. “From the Social Gospel to Neoconservativism:
          Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy.” Interdisciplinary
          Journal of Research on Religion. Volume 7, Article 6: pp. 1-41. http://www.religjournal.com/.

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            “something changed, rather dramatically over the last 100 years in american foreign policy” . . . considering that de tocqueville and “democracy” came out before the civil war and is a study on democracy in america, from an institutional basis and how that impacts the culture, society and people, to limit your critique of american exceptionalism to contemporary foreign policy is intellectually dishonest. if you want to advocate for a pacifist america or a non-interventioinist america, that’s fine . . . that has nothing to do with, good or bad, with american exceptionalism. trying to do so is like trying to drag your wife into an on-going spat you have with your own brothers and sisters concerning your parents. better to keep them separate and not make everything about everything. all that does is confuse things and not make them easier, or better, more likely to be understood, much less resolved.

          • https://www.facebook.com/JamesKWellman James Wellman

            Read the article.

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            this one? i did. if you want to take issue with american exceptionalism, and ally yourself with vladimir putin i guess, you should do your audience a favor and at the very beginning define or explain what you mean by it or what your use of the term means so that your reader can understand what you intend to prove with it. you did no such thing but merely want to use the term, one that is not at all understood clearly by many people, as a jumping off point into a larger rant about what it is that really bothers you.

        • kwdayboise

          Not anagram, Ngram, Mr. Science. http://books.google.com/ngrams/info If Democracy in America hasn’t changed in the couple of times I’ve read it since high school, it’s a pretty interesting analysis of America pre Civil War, with increasingly less relevance after a century and a half. Here’s your reference to Stalin’s contribution to your favorite concept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            mr. science? perhaps that’s what you like to think of yourself as boise. i was a history major in college before i went to law school. yes, stalin used the term “american exceptionalism” but not how you or others who dismiss the term think. he used it, negatively, for his purposes, to describe why it was that america had no organized labor party in contrast to all the other industrializing countries at that time and why socialism had never taken hold beyond the coffee houses and faculty lounges of american intellectuals into an organized political movement . . . hence one more example of how the social conflicts in europe, past and long past never quite materialized on this side of the pond. you make the very point in an attempt to sound smart and sophisticated about a topic you know less than you think you do about. america is most definitely a most exceptional place boise!

          • kwdayboise

            Ah. Law school. It’s more important to win an argument than be right about it. Explains a lot.

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            that’s right . . . because being “right” and losing is so much better than being “wrong” and winning, when in fact if you have any experience with judges juries, very few cases are clear cut. that’s why they’re called “judges.” something academics know little about.

          • kwdayboise

            I’m just saying that I have a life, and don’t intend to waste a chunk of it arguing with someone who read one book and think it answers all questions. If I wanted to do that I’d go to an Ayn Rand fan site.

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            and so do i. for someone who likes to think they’re really smart (you’re not despite whatever overpriced credentials you might have acquired a long the way) you don’t know much about what you talk about. which is why you are changing the subject and pointing the other way. i’m not looking at that but at you. i have never read ayn rand much as you would like to wish so. have you ever read de tocqueville sir? because that is where the concept of “american exceptionalism” comes from.

          • kwdayboise

            I’m not changing the subject, I’m dropping it. I don’t have an interest in talking to people who would rather hold a position than be open to other insights. And let me suggest, just as friendly feedback, that your concern with my credentials (I have none) comes across as very insecure.

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            if you wanted to drop the subject you would stop responding boise. you aren’t because you do. considering how many red herrings you (not me, you) keep bringing up (you were the one who responded to my comment to the author of this post (not to you) way up top sir) from your unfamiliarity with de tocquevile to google searches to belittling insults (i have two bachelor degrees and a J.D. but don’t put a premium on credentials, only reading and learning) you are the one who wants to wander all over the place and not remain focused on what the author (again, not me, and certainly not you) originally raised.

          • sailor1031

            As an “alien” in the USA, but not knowing my place, I think the arrogance of
            assuming both one’s right to police the world and one’s right to
            unilaterally attack any other country in violation of international laws to which one is signatory, is truly exceptional. Especially as the rest of the world generally doesn’t seem to agree. But exceptional in any other way? Meh!

            Oh I forgot. The USA is exceptional in another way – it is one of the few major countries that has not banned cluster munitions……

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            so who should police the world then sailor? vladimir putin?? bashar al-assad??? almost every country in the world has signed the chemical weapons and geneva conventions which outlaw the use of such chemical weapons on innocent people. certainly you’re not in favor of simply allowing that law to be broken are you? i think you have “international law” backwards and fail to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. in this case, it’s not hard.

          • sailor1031

            The USA should have exerted its efforts since 1945 to make the United Nations an effective body. Instead the USA has thwarted, undermined (including starving it of promised funding) and opposed the United Nations at every turn where US interests were deemed to be more important. Good grief just look at the appalling people who have been US ambassadors to the UN – John Bolton for instance – and the way they have insulted, denigrated and abused that body. After the Korean War the UN mostly got dirty little peace-keeping chores which the great world-policeman did not want to dirty its hand with. Instead teh USA ued its veto powers in the Security Council again and again to thwart diplomacy. In Middle Eastern affairs for instance. One reaps what one sows.

            However, if a policeman is needed – which is not agreed by all – many around teh world do not want it to be the USA. Many people simply do not trust USA foreign policy. And they wouldn’t want Putin either. You give us a false dichotomy.
            I realise that you think the USA are the “good guys” as you call them, but from a foreign perspective it is impossible to tell you “good guys” from those other “bad guys”.

          • https://twitter.com/SoCalCMH christopher hubbard

            (1) “the USA should have exerted its efforts since 1945 to make the UN an effective body?” let’s see here, the UN charter derives more from the declaration of independence and the american constitution than it does any other country’s foundational principles, it’s located in new york city (on purpose) and the US contributes more $$$ than any other country and yet that’s not enough for you?!? question for you sailor . . . why did you come here? not when or from where, but why?? certainly if you really felt that way, you could have chosen 190 something other countries to immigrate to instead of here right?

            (2) perhaps you don’t much about how the UN actually works in practice, and that is that at the security counsel there are 15 countries that serve on it and 5 of them permanently (the US, France, Britain, Russia and China who always have since the beginning) which means that two of the biggest countries in the world that don’t share our value system completely have a veto over whatever action we might want to take that would necessitate going through the security counsel. we have a veto power over them too (and france and britain too) but that simply proves that the security counsel specifically and the UN generally, in most cases is an ineffectual body at a minimum.

            (3) perhaps you’ve never heard of NATO, GATT, the predecessor to the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, etc. all international and multilateral bodies, among many others. for which the USA time and again has allowed lesser powers, but important countries, democratic and emerging democratic to have a voice and an avenue to exert themselves in addition to ours and laid down the foundation for the post WW2 world which has seen more people and more countries see peace and achieve prosperity than at any prior time in human history. you pooh pooh the achievements of the country that is the single greatest force for good on this planet as if it was automatic or would have happened anyway, or regardless of us. au contraire sailor, au contraire!

            if you think otherwise, and i presume you do, how do you explain the fact that the united states and the west and liberty and self government prevailed in 1989 and the soviet union has joined nazi germany, fascist italy, fascist spain and imperial japan among others in the history books??

    • pennyroyal

      wiki is the first place I looked for a quick brushup. Too many post this way: open mouth /insert foot.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello James, even for Western Europeans (who are culturally and ideologically close to Americans) this imperialistic policy can be very shocking.
    In many respects Obama has been quite a disappointment and he seems all too willing to give up his former ideals for the sake of winning voices. I now wish that Ron Paul would have been elected.

    To your mind, why does not Obama mention the fate of the many victims of the islamists who would most likely rule the country if the US helped them defeating Assad?
    Is it just naivety?

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

    • https://www.facebook.com/JamesKWellman James Wellman

      I don’t know what Obama really thinks; early in his first term he abjured exceptionalism, now he embraces it. Don’t know.

  • Katherine Appello

    Military action toward a nation that has not attacked us directly, even if it pains me to see the humanitarian damage must never be first choice and never unilateral, not without a real long term plan, or even knowing if the devils we put in will be worse than the one we punish or get removed. We have been made and made ourselves due to being who we are, our origins for whatever reasons the world police and banner for defense of freedoms etc…, but we can’t be that to everyone. We simply can not and should not be expected to. Every nation must save itself in part and the world community must band together with diplomatic and only when those stringent and enforced efforts fail go to military action, but collectively, with precise strikes and a solid long term intelligent plan.

  • jimoppenheimer

    I don’t think the President used the definition you want to see when he used that word, and I don’t think that’s what he meant. I don’t think that is even the point, which is that in this case it’s best not to do anything at all, since the situation is volatile and whatever we do is probably going to make things worse — and I include literally anything, not just the violent activities. Yes, even providing food and clothing will provoke some to escalate their violence.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Jon Stewart recently observed that America is a superpower that thinks that it actually has superpowers.

    • Kevin Osborne

      I love that!

    • BeardedBowtieGuy

      That’s great. Like you pic too.

    • pennyroyal

      that was a great comment by Stewart and too true! We have this inflated sense of our strength and powers. Our powers are not super(powers) and we are not supernatural beings. We think we’re gods. Obama mentions humility but didn’t mention wisdom. There is precious little of either in the USA.

  • Kevin Osborne

    One is either very confident or very afraid to kill another.

  • Y. A. Warren

    I believe so much of this desire to punish is based on misinterpretations of the story of humanity.

    What if we believed that Adam and Eve simply walked away from Eden, like teenagers often do and that “God” is still keeping a “light on the window,” waiting for their family to return to the fold? What if we believe that “God” got tired of humans getting the wrong message and finally sent somebody to show us how to live in harmony with all of creation? What if we actually believe that ALL humans are infused with The Sacred Spirit, with no stain left over from Adam and Eve, that needs to be exorcised by punishment and suffering of another human being? What if Jesus actually came to show us how to live, not to be punished for the sins of our (and his) ancestors?

    Maybe we would actually love our neighbors as ourselves and stop thinking that “Christians” should follow a “God” demanding blood sacrifice in war. There is enough “blood sacrifice” in in the birth process and in our everyday lives .

    From my blog OneFamilyManyFaiths.blogspot.com

    Commitment to Compassion

    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken husband to wife and wife to husband in marriage.
    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken by a mother as she embraces her children.
    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken by a father every time his labor pays for his family’s food.
    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken by a teacher every time a child learns to read and write.
    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken by the armed forces every time they are on the front lines.
    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken by a nurse at the bedside of a patient in pain.
    “This is my body. This is my blood” words that can be spoken by all who reach out in love and minister to others.
    This commitment to compassionate action is the true communion of saints, and it is how we help create heaven on earth.

  • June Courage

    All imperial nations create a mythology of being unique in order to both explain and justify what is, at bottom, plain old greed. The Spanish did it, the Zulus did it, the Japanese did it, the British did it ……. why should Americans be any different ? You think they are exceptional or something ?

  • Georgie65

    “with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to
    death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run…” Words from a man to supports the killing of 3000 unborn babies a day in his homeland. He has no business speaking. Period.

    • Katherine Harms

      Amen!

    • pennyroyal

      oh, I suppose dominating women and their lives and choices is something you’d like. Women are fully capable of making decisions on their own behalf and you are out of order here with your antiabortion /anti-woman rhetoric.

      • Georgie65

        As a woman, I’m not exactly anti-woman. That is funny. I believe that giving unborn women a chance to live as the single greatest thing anyone can do for women. You Americans hate women more than any nation out there.

        • pennyroyal

          If you don’t want an abortion don’t have one. But let other women have the choice you had to carry a pregnancy to term. A fertilized egg, zygote, or fetus in utero which is not able to breathe on its own is not equivalent to a fully human, embedded in community, sentient, conscious woman. It’s like the difference between an acorn and an oak tree.

          You cannot force women to bear a pregnancy she does not want or deny them a legal procedure. Seems to me you are the one who hates women. No lawyer, politician on the make, priest, or minister is going to use HIS substitutionary judgement. No anti-woman/anti-abortionist has the right to do that either, whatever their gender.

  • Katherine Harms

    The man I did not vote for became president of the USA. That man is doing and saying all the things I expected him to do and say if he became president, which is why I did not vote for him. He did, indeed, invoke American exceptionalism in his statement about Syria, but his reference was completely nonsensical, betraying a complete ignorance of both Syria’s problem and American exceptionalism.
    Syria’s problems are beyond the reach of any military solution except a complete nuclear holocaust, something no sane person would advocate. For starters, there is no righteous contender in that battle. To say that whoever used the gas is more evil than whoever uses conventional weapons to kill and maim innocent people is ridiculous. We have a ruthless dictator trying to defend himself against ruthless Islamic militants. Where is the good guy in that conflict? Are some of the militants more moderate than others? What does “moderate” mean when we speak of Islamic militants? Do some of them administer an anesthetic before they behead their victims? If there is any leadership among the participants in the violence in Syria which would bring freedom, peace and prosperity to Syria, why are people running away, many in hopes of eventually getting to the USA, rather than support the hope of the nation?

    As for American exceptionalism, the man who holds the office of president of the USA has no idea what that term means. The author of this post and many commenters in this thread don’t know either. If you really want to know what that term means, ask people who for more than two hundred years have been fleeing oppression, poverty and violence, risking life and limb, coming with nothing but the clothes on their backs in order to get to this country? Why didn’t any of them flee to the socialist heaven in the former Soviet Union? Why isn’t there a flood of Muslim immigrants into Iran, the model of Islamic peace and love? How come people threatened with imprisonment, torture and execution by tyrants around the world always come to the USA instead of places like Chechnya or Uzbekistan? Ask refugees from political, social and religious violence around the world what American exceptionalism is.
    And by the way, if you don’t think America is exceptional, why don’t you go somewhere that is?

  • Learner

    Thanks for the thoughtful, and powerful, article. Important points to consider. I think, though, that we misunderstand the President if we believe he was invoking American Exceptionalism to say that we are better than everyone else. He was, rather, inspiring us to respond to our higher nature. If we are to put an end to the aggression that has been a part of us from the beginning we must act in concert. Every time we act to alleviate suffering is a step in the right direction.

    During WWII, Indian sage Sri Aurobindo argued with disciples who sided with Hitler because they despised the British for their oppressive rule. He argued that Gandhi’s peaceful resistance would mean nothing to the Nazis, who would gladly murder the entire subcontinent if they thought it was in their interest. Sometimes acting with force is necessary, he argued.

    Perhaps it is an old fashioned notion in this postmodern, deconstructed world in which we have been thrown, but I believe President Obama understands that a president must stand at the center, and hold all sides equally. The center is an untenable position, because it comes under attack from all sides. I believe he holds it with dignity and grace.

    • pennyroyal

      Gandhi’s tactic of sending waves of poor marching to the sea to make their own salt, to be met with phalanxes of police with iron bars depended on the humanity of the officers at not wanting to make the sea run with blood. In the face of totalitarianism, this won’t work.
      I think the US is the world’s bully. We order the world out way and exploit the raw materials and talents of poorer countries. We have become materially rich but our spirits are poor (to paraphrase MLK, Jr.).

    • Ron Schaeffer

      Thank you and well said. This is a real dilemma for me.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    I couldn’t agree more ! And I wish American Christianity would drop its exceptionalism: that is one of the chores of Progs.

  • pennyroyal

    American exceptionalism is religious in its genesis. The notion that America could be like a beacon to the world, a City on a Hill. This is from Wikipedia.

    “Although the term does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense.[4][5] To them, the United States is like the biblical shining “City upon a Hill”, and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries.[6]”

    Obama cites the need to have humility. In the USA the ruling classes (the Walton’s running Walmart and their employees on food stamps and public health and their 100 billion dollars; the Rethugs who are indistinguishable from the Bible thumpers and televangelists) none of them have an ounce of humility. Exceptionalism implies that the rules that govern ordinary people don’t apply to us. It’s an inflation and it’s dangerous–to us personally and to the whole planet.

  • peacemaker

    Why don’t you ask the president what he meant before you talk about how he is wrong? We make so many assumptions. Lets get the facts straight first.

  • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com/ SC

    How can we argue for the safety of children from chemical attack in another country when (especially among those on the left) we fiercely defend the legal right to abort millions of babies in this
    country?

    No matter what title you use for the occupant of a mother’s womb, it’s a human life with the potential of becoming a mature human being. Do some honest researched on what happens to a baby in an abortion. It is horrific! The thought that a mother’s womb becomes a baby’s death chamber is unconscionable.

    In a country whose laws endorse the torture and dismembering of babies in their mother’s womb, should we expect to be the moral leader of the world in protecting innocent Children?

    • Oswald Carnes

      Thanks for reminding me to donate to Planned Parenthood.

    • Georgie65

      So true. Our national shame.

      • pennyroyal

        it’s not a baby, it may be alive (as in have a potential to grow) but it’s not a man or a woman or a conscious human being. It’s not a ‘human being’. No you do some ‘honest research.’ Get over your monomania and lift your eyes to the real suffering of those who are already born.

        • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com/ SC

          It’s an indisputable fact of science that the life of the fetus is more than a “product” of conception. The occupant of the womb is a human life with the potential of becoming a mature human being. Abortion does not simply terminate a pregnancy; it terminates the life of a baby. If you have children, look closely at them and remind yourself that had you chosen to abort them (at any point from conception to birth), you would have ended their lives. This is beyond dispute. Induced abortion is the deliberate destruction of an unborn child.

          • pennyroyal

            No, that’s where the anti-abortion folks go way wrong. That fetus is alive, of that there is no doubt. But does it have a paramount right to life over a living, breathing human woman, embedded in her life and family. No. The woman has to retain control of what happens in her body. The fetus is not yet fully a body able to breathe on its own. It does not feel ‘pain’ as we think of it until 27 weeks.

            Get a grip! An induced abortion is clearly the deliberate ending of a potential human being, a potential ‘child’. It’s not fully human, say many cultures and religions in the world until it can breathe on its own or even stand on its own.

            You zealots apply Christian theology and expect everyone to bow down to your definitions. You try to make out that this is scientific but it’s not. It’s theological and politically ideological.

          • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com/ SC

            Induced abortion is the premature expulsion of a human fetus through surgical or chemical means. Over 90 percent of induced abortions are performed for non-medical reasons. The large majority of surgical abortions are performed during the seventh through tenth weeks of pregnancy. By this time, a baby’s heartbeat, arms, legs and fingers are identifiable.

          • pennyroyal

            So???
            a woman has the right to make decisions on her own behalf about her own body. Why don’t you zealots get off your soapbox. It’s not a baby. It’s a fetus, a potential human being. It can’t exist outside the woman’s body. It is not a person. And you can say it a million times but it doesn’t make it so.

    • Marmalade

      This is why ignorance is such a horrible thing. Studies show that countries with abortion bans either don’t lessen the rates of abortion or actually increase it. This could be explained many ways such as countries that support women’s clinics, sex education and birth control availability are more likely to decrease unwanted pregnancies in the first place. American violence sadly goes along with American ignorance.

      • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com/ SC

        What studies?

        • pennyroyal

          why don’t you look for yourself. I bet if Marmalade posts some studies, you’ll tear them apart.

        • Marmalade

          I’ve developed a policy of not doing research for people. I’ve found that people who want to find information are able and willing to find it. Those not willing and able also tend not to accept information even when given to them. The studies I speak of aren’t hard to find if you know how to use a web search engine.


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