Hnn | HNN Articles

Why American Exceptionalism Is Wrong

 

AHA Legislative Associate Matthew Bulger takes offense at President Obama’s claim that the United States is exceptional and explains why it’s dangerous to think so. 


A few weeks ago the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin, penned an op-ed in the New York Times that was meant to allow him to speak directly to the American public about the crisis in Syria. While the op-ed was a fairly transparent political ploy on behalf of Putin, one section stood out because of its sincerity and significance.

Referring to a recent speech by President Obama, Putin writes, “I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation…We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Unnecessary religious language aside, this statement by the Russian president is important to note because America’s insistence on declaring itself exceptional is not only dangerous, it’s also an embarrassing display of exceptional arrogance.

America is a great country with a compassionate and empathetic citizenry, and our traditions of scientific inquiry, economic innovation, and political equality are something to be commended. That being said, we must recognize the folly of promoting ourselves as a “special” or “exceptional” nation, because the danger of doing so is rampant nationalism and international isolation.

When we encourage our fellow Americans to think that they are better than those born in other countries, we feed the flames of nationalism and all the problems that come along with it. Rather than seeing ourselves as a partner in the international community that helps to enforce international law, we begin to see ourselves as the global police force, able to enforce international law unilaterally and even ignore international law if we so choose in our quest to impose our will on the world. As Americans become more and more convinced of the special nature of our country our nationalism will grow, causing us to respond more often with force and violence to countries that threaten or insult us or even refuse to submit to our “special” authority. The result of this rise in nationalism is an increasing isolation from the international community as other countries become frustrated with our imposing actions and increasingly wary of interacting with us for fearing of saying the wrong thing and causing a military invasion.

Think back to your grade school days and you can probably remember the big imposing kid that would take what he wanted from other children through force. Do we really want to become this bully on the global stage? If we continue to think of ourselves as special and above the rules, there is a large chance we may begin to resemble that schoolyard tyrant. With our arrogant claims of exceptionalism, we condemn ourselves to a future of international ridicule and scorn, and we make enemies of those countries that might have been our friends if we would have approached them with humility or respect.

Rather than bragging about how great we are, Americans should instead devote our time to proving our worth to the world through quiet assistance of those in need and support for the international institutions of which we are members. True strength is not shown by flexing our proverbial muscles for the rest of the world to admire and fear, but in doing all that we can under the rules that we all agreed to abide by for those who ask for our help.


Matthew Bulger, Legislative AssocociateMatthew Bulger is the legislative associate for the American Humanist Association.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

Apparently it is impossible to fly an airplane without believing in God. Do you...

1 hours ago

American Humanist Association

We're looking for a web developer to implement design improvements to our Darwin...

18 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Who will be at Apostacon this weekend? From Friday the 19th to Sunday the 21st,...

19 hours ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association joined with 35 groups recently in supporting R...

22 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Fox News and The Kelly File cover the United States Air Force's decision to reve...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

VICTORY! In response to the demand of the AHA, with help from the Military Asso...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

What do kids say about God? Some in this group say he creates apples, is kinda l...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The battle continues for Texas atheist group, the Metroplex Atheists Rowlett. Th...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Satanic Temple decides to join in the fun when a Florida judge ruled in favo...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The behavior of Ray Rice is not just one single occurrence that needs to be reme...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

What is your opinion on using crowd-funding to raise money for an abortion? Ge...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is America's Army becoming God's Army? From bible distribution to requiring the...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Monica Miller, attorney for AHA's Appignani Humanist Legal Center, appeared live...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Communications Associate, Merrill Miller, reports on the variety of reactions we...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Already, many students have taken a stand by sitting out the Pledge of Allegianc...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller had harsh words for the AHA this week in covering...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Great article in the Huffington Post from Michael LaMasa discussing the ever-blu...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

What would you say to someone who is afraid to come out as an atheist in fear of...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Episode Ten of the Cartoon History of Humanism is now out on thehumanist.com!...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Who is worried about the militarization of police? I am! Get TheHumanist.com by...

8 days ago