In a recent open letter to the American people, Russian president Vladimir Putin assured us he likes and respects us, but asked us to realize we’re embarrassing ourselves and doing a lot of harm with our delusion of “American Exceptionalism.” Both the mainstream American left and right rushed to prop up our most beloved myth against this iconoclastic Cossack.
What’s interesting is that both wings of accepted American thought agree on what “exceptionalism” means–and more significantly, that both, though supposedly rivals, are actually in lockstep on all other major issues as a result.
For example, liberal columnist Dana Milbank shot back at President Putin with this bristling retort:
When we say we are exceptional, what we really are saying is we are different. With few exceptions, we are all strangers to our land; our families came from all corners of the world and brought all of its colors, religions and languages. We believe this mixing, together with our free society, has produced generations of creative energy and ingenuity, from the Declaration of Independence to Facebook, from Thomas Jefferson to Miley Cyrus. There is no other country quite like that.
Americans aren’t better than others, but our American experience is unique — exceptional — and it has created the world’s most powerful economy and military, which, more often than not, has been used for good in the world.
Miley Cyrus? Really? My pride floweth over.
And former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, now president of The Heritage Foundation, also defended “exceptionalism” by invoking the image of America as the Multi-Culti Empire that roams the globe doing good:
We are, in other words, not a nation based on ethnicity, but on beliefs, and not coincidentally, that is why we attract people of all ethnicities and they become proud Americans…. When we have used our power, however, we have done it for good.”
Both echoed what Madeleine Albright said as secretary of state:
It is the threat of the use of force [against Iraq] and our line-up there that is going to put force behind the diplomacy. But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.
That self-image still inspires the Obama regime’s global aggression:
In their more honest moments, White House officials concede they got here the messiest way possible — with a mix of luck in the case of Syria, years of sanctions on Iran and then some unpredicted chess moves executed by three players Mr. Obama deeply distrusts: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and Iran’s erratic mullahs. But, the officials say, these are the long-delayed fruits of the administration’s selective use of coercion in a part of the world where that is understood.
“The common thread is that you don’t achieve diplomatic progress in the Middle East without significant pressure,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said Thursday. “In Syria, it was the serious threat of a military strike; in Iran it was a sanctions regime built up over five years.”
If your identity is that of a polyglot hegemon endowed with greater wisdom than the rest of the world, how can you NOT support open borders? Or the invasion of Iraq? Or Iran? Or Syria?
First of all, the US was NOT founded as a unique blend of whatever ethnic group decided to elbow its way in; it was founded as an outpost of Western civilization.
More important, the notion that the American people have always been committed to a never-ending global war to impose democracy and equality is a pure lie, and a fairly recent one at that. Previous “Wars of Liberation,” including Lincoln’s invasion of the South, the Spanish-American War, Vietnam, and Iraq, later turned out to be based on massive propaganda and misinformation.
The core idea expressed in “American Exceptionalism” is that the role of America’s elite is to serve as the global mind bringing reason and order to a chaotic, degenerate world. That is Gnosticism, an anti-Christian concept that explicitly glorifies abstract knowledge while scorning the physical. I argued here that Northern thought degenerated from its Puritan roots into militant Gnosticism, while Southerners upheld and lived by a balance between the spiritual and the physical.
Author John C. Wright said this of the Gnostic foundations of today’s statists and their leftist enablers:
In sum, they are idolaters who substitute the worship of Caesar for the worship of Christ; they are Gnostics in the posture of eternal rebellion both against God in Heaven and civil society on Earth. They are chameleons who adopt any ideals or values or party lines needed for so long as needed to destroy them, including Pragmatism, including Worldliness. They are Politically Correct and factually incorrect.
They seek to destroy civilized institutions here on Earth and drag Utopia down from heaven to replace them, indifferent, or even glorying, in the bloodshed required.
To avoid confusion, let us call them Ideologues. They are utterly unworldly, rejecting the pragmatism of the Worldly Man as cold and loveless and unspiritual.
The Ideologues are as nearly a pure evil as mankind has ever produced or can imagine, but please note that their motives are the highest and noblest imaginable: they seek things of the spirit, peace on earth, food for the poor, dignity given to all men, and all such things which are the only things, the holy things, that can electrify dull mankind and stir him to take up the banner and trumpet and shining lance of high and holy crusade.
Ever wonder why leftists see “education” as the cure to all ills? Or why they fancy themselves superior to those they see as living in the darkness of tradition and irrationality? Their contempt for the physical explains their hatred of heritage and tradition–and of life itself. But as John C. Wright pointed out, there’s a terrible price to pay for the spreading of their concept of the good. When Madeleine Albright proclaimed the death of a half-million Iraqi children as “worth it,” she was expressing what all Gnostics believe.
By their fruits ye shall know them.