A friend told me of a class he took in college by a Professor of US History, Dr. Lawson. Dr. Lawson gave a profound and illuminating lesson one day on the shape and form of the US. He struck down an age old axiom that we all learned in grade school—that of the US being a “melting pot”. First of all, as the lesson went, a melting pot destroys all of the characteristics of the original form and homogenizes the final product. So, with the melting pot theory we would all be uniquely the same. That doesn’t make sense.
Lawson’s “Vegetable Soup” provides for the fact that we are all uniquely different yet that we are held together by a broth of sorts. So, each of us in our own right is a carrot, a potato, or a pea and the soupy broth is our collective inheritance of being an American. Through this combined difference and shared experience rises American Exceptionalism.
The brilliance of our founding fathers at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 in forming the living and breathing document that guides our every day is merely one instance of the Exceptionalism that permeates the fabric of our society. Forming our country was paramount to dastardly inconveniences such as slavery. To abolish slavery in 1787 would have been to bring our nascent country to civil war thusly aborting the birth that was fought so hard for against the British a few years earlier. Indeed, the seeds of the Civil War were sown at that hall in Philadelphia on those muggy summer afternoons with the simple words “All men are created equal”. The Exceptionalism shown by those great men then allow us now to live in the free-est country this planet has ever seen.
Do I think I am exceptional?…no. Given circumstance and opportunity, could I become exceptional?…absolutely. Any one of us could. For instance, if I was an Austrian in Graz in the early to mid-90’s, would I have sat idly as Serbian war planes screeched over my town center in the hectic turns to get back to ethnically cleansing their map?…Would I have allowed refugee camps on the other side of my border and refuse mothers and children entry into my country while they are murdered in those camps?…NO. If I were Jewish, would I have allowed the genocide in Rwanda or Bosnia after I decried “No more” to genocide?…NO. If I were a Hun, would I count my oil contracts with Saddam and build him bunkers while he and his sons murder and rape indiscriminately?…No.—Let alone all of the blind eyes turned during the Holocaust. If I Were a Frenchy, would I have asked for nuclear weapons use against the Vietnamese at the siege of Dien Bien Phu?…No.—And I certainly wouldn’t have recolonized my rubber plantations there after not being able to defend them against the Japs (I use the pejorative here as a result of my disgust at pictures of Manchuria or the Bataan Death March.). And if I were a Jap, would I have hacked off heads in the name of the Rising Sun or stuck babies and their mothers with my bayonet?…No. And of China, Tiananmen Square, need I say more? Now, look at all of those countries, and I could go on, and tell me what you see… Okay, I see countries that are inherently racist against people who don’t look or talk like them. And those countries abjectly refuse to accept immigrants, even when they are being slaughtered on their borders. And this is the History of the planet until the United States of America was born.
So, president Moabama, when you say that every other person on this planet feels like they are exceptional too, it strikes at common sense and reality. Just because I feel a certain way does not make it so, and those people around the planet that you spoke to, and of, while saying that have done nothing in order to prove their Exceptionalism.
We spend resources that we don’t have and our most precious commodity, our lives, in order to insure that peace and freedom and personal liberties are spread across this planet. That is Exceptional.