Not That Special

I’m currently travelling abroad, and beginning to fall into the curious but perhaps not uncommon habit of finding Americans annoying. Never mind that I am one, of course, but it always seems to be only the Americans who find it necessary to bellow their congratulations at passing wedding parties or have photo shoots of themselves kissing on footbridges I would like to cross.

John Leichty writes about American exceptionalism on, noting that while America is certainly special and Americans have accomplished many remarkable feats, as a country the United States are not on their own separate level of specialness:

Are we different? Yes. Are we unique? In many ways, yes. But are we extra-special? Are we extra-extra-special? Are we immeasurably better than the French? Are we, in the Clinton Administration word, indispensable? That’s what the zealous proponent of American exceptionalism wants to hear. Not just that we’re special -– that we’re specialer than anyone else in history. Our special is bigger than your special.

And we loudly and inappropriately congratulate you on your wedding. But more significantly than my (admittedly obnoxious and petty) complaints is the result of American exceptionalism on our foreign policy: Leichty points out its unfortunate effect of causing a widespread blind assumption among U.S. citizens of our own virtue. We would never wage an unjust war; we would never torture…would we?

Read the rest here.

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