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America The Exceptional

Updated on June 14, 2016

Wrigley Field Chicago

THIS is Exceptional
THIS is Exceptional | Source

Little Big Man

I was in Munich a few years ago, crammed into one of those little tobacco shops, buying my wife a pack of American Spirits. An older German man standing behind me leaned in and said to me in English; "American Spirit? Not so much so, eh?"

I thought about this for a moment and looked back at him. "No, not so much so. America has gone crazy." I spun my finger around my head. He nodded and gave me a look of satisfaction and I walked out, wondering what that brief conversation had meant.There are many ways his comment could have been taken, and many ways I could have responded. Some American tourists would have been confused or deeply offended, but I got it. Our Crest has fallen in Europe...

The Germans, though we defeated them in World War II and bombed the hell out of many civillian cities, have come to appreciate what we did for them in the long run. They have prospered and emerged as Europes' greatest economic power. Indeed, Germany and much of Europe emerged from that horrible war with their dignity and identity intact, thanks in large part to the compassionate and generous contributions from America during reconstruction, and our willingness to stand up to the Russians during the cold war.

Understanding this, I could relate to the resigned dissapointment that my older German friend had expressed in the tobacco shop. America has become, in some ways, a rudderless ship. Though some might argue it as earlier, I peg the decline of the American Empire on an exact date: September 12, 2001...

The outpouring of sympathy and worldwide support for the U.S. was tremendous. Even Iran offered help. My initial gut reaction was that maybe it was a good thing that George Bush had beaten Al Gore, as now we had a "tough guy" in charge, someone who would fight back and do the right thing instead of wish-washing the 9-11 attack. Boy, was I wrong about that.

The invasion of Afganistan, with the supposed goal of hunting down and killing Osama Bin Laden, seemed like a good start, but then the Bush administration began to inexplicabley talk about Iraq. The blame had suddenly turned towards Sadaam Hussein and our world support folded quickly, as our European and Middle Eastern alies balked.

In short, Bush and Cheney, et al, lied us into a totally unneccesary war in Iraq and blew up the powderkeg of the Middle East. The implications are complicated and will be discussed for many future generations, but the immediate results are clear. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead, millions of people are displaced and extremely upset with us, and we have spent well over a trillion dollars on the most misguided reaction to an international attack in world history.

This is really shameful, and when I came back to the U.S. from my trip to Europe and kept hearing about "American Exceptionalism" from the conservatives on radio and tv, it made me sick. Yes, we do have many great things that make America exceptional in it's own way. I would personally point out baseball and the movie industry as my first examples. The beauty of the Southwest and the Northwest and the Appalachain Chain is exceptional and unique, but not an American concept. We just got lucky to have them. And that is another issue in terms of Americas' greatness.

While there are many good arguements for why America is 'Great", we have yet to completely reconcile some of the truly despicable things we have done as a country. The conquest of the west and annihilation of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crowe laws, the Vietnam War, and killing of over a hundred thousand civilians in the firebombing of Dresden, Germany during WWII are but a few of the actions we have to attone for, and until we can, I have to say...

Not so much so.

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    • mybillypilgrim profile image
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      Granville Bennet 14 months ago from Portland Oregon

      I think that is great, Wild Bill, and I am sure there are many millions of Americans who feel the same way. I myself couldn't imagine a more secure and idyllic youth, growing up in suburban Chicago in the 70's. We had some real freedom back then, when children were untethered by the technology of today and political correctness meant not voting Republican. America is very exceptional in many ways. and if you can live a happy life and be nice to your neighbors, and not worry about the problems of the world, then you go on doing it. More power to you.

    • profile image

      Wild Bill 14 months ago

      Is America exceptional? From my standpoint it is. I wake up every day and thank God that I am in a country where I have the ability to pursue all of my dreams. I don't have very much control over our history or what our foreign affairs are, but other than being a good person to my neighbor and trying to vote appropriately there is not much else I can do.

      I guess the opinion is in the eye of the beholder, but if someone asked me if America was still exceptional, I would have to say: "It is to me."

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 14 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Yesterday, he wanted to shut down radio, today he wants to shut down the internet. Every day with him is crazier than the day before.

    • mybillypilgrim profile image
      Author

      Granville Bennet 14 months ago from Portland Oregon

      Thanks, Austinstar-

      I agree that a Trump presidency has no chance. If anything, the world community would probably recoil in horror and wait out his four years on the sidelines. No point in engaging with a psychopath...

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 14 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Powerful hub. I agree and I remember. I don't know why the right wing war mongers disremember what Bush and Cheney did to this country, but somehow, they got it completely backwards. I wonder if we will ever recover.

      Sadly, I have no hope that a Trump presidency would make America Great Again. The cancer has spread and seems to be immune to any remedy we might apply.

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