Joe Moran: ‘Exceptional’ not better

September 16, 2013 

‘Exceptional’ not better

Eugene Robinson’s Sept. 14 column “America is exceptional? You bet” deserves a response. It is one thing to assert that a country has made some unique contributions to the world but quite another to claim that it is better than all the other countries of the world.

“Exceptionalism” is a form of misplaced pride and can easily serve to mask hypocrisy. We can demonstrate horror at the use of chemical weapons in Syria while we gloss over the fact that we provided Saddam Hussein with strategic satellite intelligence for his use of these same chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s.

The song “America the Beautiful” does not say that God has shed his grace on America but ardently asks God to do so and begs that God “mend (America’s) every flaw” and “confirm (America’s) soul in self-control, (America’s) liberty in law.”

Believing ourselves “exceptional” allows us too easily to feel that we are above the law. Our national boasting is not virtuous. Besides revealing deep-seated insecurities, it works against effective diplomacy.

We might cringe that it was Vladimir Putin who called us on this, but there’s no denying that he has put his finger on a national sore.

Joe Moran


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