Time to take Exception

SUBHEAD: Once you start spouting that your nation is superior to anything that has ever existed, then you are going to start acting like God. Indicative of American Exceptionalists, Mitt Romney's book is entitled No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness By Jon Letman on 12 November 2010 in Clear Sky Press - (http://httpclearskypress.blogspot.com/2010/11/time-to-take-exception.html) On any day of the year, but especially Veteran’s Day, we should be asking ourselves, “why is it that we have so many military veterans?” What is it that we do that produces so many men and women who have served in the military, so often fighting wars far from home?
The reasons are many, but today let’s just focus on one. This huge number — according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there were 21.9 million military veterans in the United States in 2009 — is, in part, the result of the notion of “American Exceptionalism” — that is, the idea that the United States is somehow special among all nations, past and present. This doctrine assumes that the United States is not just “exceptional,” but that it is superior to all other nations. And this, dear reader, I would argue plays a huge role in why we as a nation are so frequently involved in both peace time and war time military adventures, occupations and outright bullets-flying-wars which, of course, results in lots of war veterans. Here is one simple, very recent example of what I am talking about. Last week, following his victory in the campaign to become Florida’s new GOP senator, Marco Rubio said,
“Americans believe with all their heart, the vast majority of them, and the vast majority of Floridians, that the United States of America is simply the single greatest nation in all of human history. A place without equal in the history of all mankind.”
Wow. Got that? “…simply the single greatest nation in all of human history…a place without equal in the history of all mankind.” Not bad for a country founded 234 years ago. America is simply the greatest nation there has ever been, just ask Marco Rubio
Clearly Marco Rubio believes, or at least wants people to believe, that he thinks not only exceptionally high of the United States, but that this country outshines any other nation that preceded it in thousands of years of human history — Egypt, Rome, Greece, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, China, India, France, England, Russia, Holland, Spain — all of you, step back, if you please. This first spot up front is reserved for us, The United States of America (hold your applause please). As for you other obscure little poor countries — Angola, Nepal, Comoros, Gabon, Tonga, Belize, Kiribati, Djibouti, Vanuatu, Canada and New Zealand — two steps back please, and would you mind not standing in our shadow? We do so admire the way our form darkens the earth. Mind-boggling, I know. Certainly the other 6,570,000,000 who were not lucky enough to be born in God’s gift to the world, must be drooling with envy. If you have ever spent five minutes in the company of someone who happened not to have been born in the greatest nation in human history, you maybe have been impressed, and certainly surprised, at how similar they seemed to yourself, at least in appearance. All the human flaws and charms randomly scattered amongst Americans, it would seem, can be found in all those not from the greatest nation in human history. And yet somehow they are different. They are, after all, not American. This notion of American Exceptionalism, which Mr. Rubio encapsulated so well, is a widely held notion, one we can hear repeated again and again by politicians like Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and mama grizzly, half-term Governor and Drill-Baby-Drill squad leader Sarah Palin, to name a few. Of course, when our African Muslim Socialist radical left wing President Barack Obama said of American Exceptionalism: “I believe in American Exceptionalism just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British Exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exptionalism,” he was roundly critized for not lining up in the “America is better that everyone else” camp. George Carlin, who was never known as a great American Exceptionalist warned of such talk. Carlin said:
"Be on the alert for phrases such as Old Glory; Main Street; the stars and stripes; the heartland; all across this great land of ours; from Maine to California; and, of course, on American soil. And don't forget all those freedom-loving people around the world who look to us as a beacon of hope. Those, I assume, would be the ones we haven't bombed lately. And you'd also better be ready to be reminded, over and over, that you live in a country that somehow fancies itself leader of the free world. Got that? Leader of the free world. I don't know when we're going to retire that stupid shit, but personally, I've heard it quite long enough. And what exactly is the free world, anyway? I guess it would depend on what you consider the non-free world. And I can't find a clear definition of that, can you? Where is that? Russia? China? For chrissakes, Russia has a better Mafia than we do now, and China is pirating Lion King DVDs and selling dildos on the Internet. They sound pretty free to me. Here are some jingoistic variations you need to be on the lookout for: The greatest nation on Earth; the greatest nation in the history of the world; and the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. That last one is usually thrown in just before we bomb a bunch of brown people. Which is every couple of years.”
Carlin saw this talk of American Exceptionalism for what it truly is: a big steaming sack of bullshit.
Sarah Palin: pining for the days of a national security policy of "We win and they lose." Mikhail Gorbachev, being a statesman, had a more diplomatic phrase. He called it “winner’s complex,” a disease, he said, which was worse than AIDS. This notion that we don’t merely have an edge in some areas, or perhaps aren’t just better at some things than others, but are, in fact, flat-out, no holds-barred, simply “the single greatest nation in the history of mankind,” isn’t just ludicrous, simple-minded, juvenile and astonishingly laughable, it is dangerous. Absolutely deadly. Because once you start spouting that your nation is superior to anything that exists or has ever existed, then you are going to start acting as though you are a type of God, or at least a Superman, Superwoman, or in America’s case, a Super Power. This will lead to all sorts of foolish and brazen acts, not the least of which will be reckless wars to control resources, countries, and even entire regions, all in support of your self-proclaimed greatness.
Gotta stop that country from getting WMD – call in the Army! Gotta tell that http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/aug/20/20060820-104133-3139r/ we aren’t putting up with any guff – call in the Navy! Gotta get back at that country for knocking down our towers – call in the Air Force! Gotta push those dirty, god-less (fill in the blank) out of this district, call in the Marines! Gotta clear this square of unarmed civilians – call in the private military contract mercenaries! Gotta flush out the bad guys in that impenetrable rugged border region – call in the unmanned Predator Drones! Gotta make sure that country doesn’t attempt to get the same type of weapons we have huge stockpiles of – call in the crippling sanctions!
And on and on and on, the result being, we have a lot of men and women who put on uniforms with American flags stitched just above the heart who are trained to believe that they are defending The Greatest Nation on Earth. This is a big part of the problem. As long as we have politicians leading the charge of “American Exceptionalism” combined with a large electorate which knows virtually nothing about the world beyond its own Super Walmart and Mega Church complex, a population who couldn’t individually or collectively think its way out of a 1-ply square of toilet tissue, you end up with a country where people sit by idle and compliant while its own government, the body supposedly charged with looking out for the country’s best interests, is actually squandering its own human and financial treasure, and the well-being of the nation itself on mindless, self-defeating wars fought far from home and largely out of view and beyond scrutiny. Echoing the bleating of Senator-elect Marco Rubio, Sen. Sam Brownback said, “this is the greatest nation in the history of mankind.” He implores Americans to “look up to see the greatness of America today.” “That greatness is built on goodness. And if we ever lose our goodness, we will surely lose our greatness,” Brownback said, repeating quotes attributed to Eisenhower and, before him, Alexis de Tocqueville. On this Veteran’s Day, a day meant to pay tribute to the men and women who serve this nation, often sacrificing themselves and their families, we should be asking ourselves who all this talk of being “the greatest nation on earth” is serving. Newt Gingrich supremely confident in America's power and ready to project it against other nations. Such chaff may garner a few cheap applause if you are standing in front of a giant American flag at a campaign rally, but it does nothing more than delude ourselves into a cult of self-aggrandizement. Worse still, it sets the stage for a nation frequently, and now seemingly, perpetually at war. It leads to the destruction of other people and places, it cheapens our own value as a society, and it invites deep scorn and hatred as it imperils us as a nation and the soldiers and veterans that we claim to honor. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: It's Armistice Day! 10/11/11 .

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