‘Curing’ exceptionalism?

‘Curing’ exceptionalism?

One of the emails in my inbox this morning was a promotion for a new book. The email was sent by the author, David Swanson, and the title of the book is “Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it?”

Swanson invited me to get in touch with an eye toward a possible interview and offered excerpts to include in my review.

I have opted instead to quote the premise of the book, which is described in the email:

U.S. exceptionalism, the idea that the United States of America is superior to other nations, is no more fact-based and no less harmful than racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. The purpose of this book is to persuade you of that statement.

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Swanson tips his hand right off the bat by misdefining exceptionalism, which doesn’t posit that a nation, society, or species is superior to others but just different or unique in some manner. The difference, moreover, is in the eye of beholder, which renders pointless his claim that exceptionalism is not fact-based. No one ever said it was. The belief in exceptionalism is an opinion. In the case of the United States, it is one that has been held not only by grateful Americans but the millions who have sought to emigrate here over the past century.

I agree with Swanson that exceptionalism can be as harmful as other forms of bigotry, but that’s only when it is confused with supremacy or feelings of superiority.

If this book does anything useful, it demonstrates how much more radical the Left has become since the days of Barack Obama, who at least understood that exceptionalism is a positive, even if he misunderstood the many ways in which the U.S. is exceptional — as does David Swanson.

As I wrote this, another email from Swanson appeared in my inbox, this one with the subject line “The New York Post Hates My New Book — You Know It’s Good.” With logic like that, what more is there to say?

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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