Archive for american exceptionalism

A Jingoistic Fourth of July

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This week, we saw a bunch of racist assholes protesters blocking the roadway leading to an immigration processing office, holding up three buses with mostly women and children with hateful, misspelled signs while alternating between shouts of "USA, USA" with "Go Home" and "Get Out."

Those Amerikkans blocked three buses with mostly children, all in the name of patriotism? Oh yeah, American exceptionalism at its best, huh?

Sorry, but after witnessing scenes like this play out and after the embarrassment of riches from our Supreme Court this week, I'm ashamed to be an American. This is not the country envisioned by the framers of the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps someone should sit these holier-than-thou jerks and read it to them. After all, that's what we're celebrating tomorrow, isn't it?

Perhaps those protesters should take a trip to Ellis Island to see where so many of their ancestors may have entered this nation of immigrants. While there, they should, perhaps, read Emma Lazarus' poem, "The New Colossus" - which is inscribed on a tablet on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

 

Maybe they should stop thinking they're so much better than everyone else, and understand why the US was, perhaps, once the greatest nation in the world, but not so much any more.

Watch Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy explains why in the opening scene of the first episode of HBO's The Newsroom. (They've disabled the ability to embed the scene, but you should click here an watch it anyway. It'll be about 8 minutes very well spent, I promise.)

This morning, I spoke with the always insightful Will Bunch, author of  Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy and The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, and who writes the Attytood blog at the Philadelphia Daily News about the new Quinnipiac poll that found Ronald Reagan as the best president since World War II and Barack Obama the worst!

Will had many of the same thoughts about this poll as did I. He wrote about it in a piece called "What that presidents poll got wrong...everything."

On Tuesday, after the Supreme Court's horrific decision in the Hobby Lobby case, I wrote that it was time to get in gear and finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Today, Amy Simon of She's History joined in to give us the history on the long awaited and long fought-for but as yet unrealized constitutional amendment.

And finally, we ended our week with Stephen Goldstein, author of The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit and his weekly "No More Bullshit Minute." Today we discussed the bullshit surrounding the Fourth of July!

Have a great holiday weekend.. we'll be back Monday with Howie Klein and The Steve Israel Hour, and FL Senator Nan Rich, the progressive candidate for Governor...  Radio or Not!

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Video- Fox News Sunday Panel: Closing Embassies Because Of Obama's "Abdication Of American Exceptionalism"

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Piffle. Via.

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Video- Liz Cheney: Obama "Does Not Believe That America Should Be Ascendant In The World"

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Where do they find these women? I hear more vitriol and downright nastiness out of the likes of Matalin, Buchanan and Cheney than any dozen male pundits. Yeesh. Via Media Matters.

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"The election of an African-American president is in itself an instance of American exceptionalism"

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“When you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?”

The entire video is excellent, but starting at 3:25 or so is the nostalgic part... speaking of which, Frank Rich has a an excellent piece up in which he discusses (at length) the country's "declinist panic and hysterical nostalgia." I've excerpted a little of it below.

Lately I've had my own personal "panic" and moments of nostalgia, partly because of the current state of smeary, smutty, dishonest, money-driven politics, partly because of exactly what Rich writes so eloquently about, and partly because of my father's painfully slow physical and mental decline, the loss of too many friends (I hate the thought of how many times I've expressed condolences lately), and an extra helping of stress.

So yes, there have been better times, for me, for all of us. But when life gets you down, it's time to take action to improve matters, not to wallow and certainly not to exploit.

Unfortunately, using moments like these to their advantage is what all too many in positions of power and influence do, just when people are feeling their most vulnerable. Sadly, that's intentional. And even more sadly, it's often effective.

Rich:

The wave of nostalgia for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and for the vanished halcyon America it supposedly enshrined says more about the frazzled state of America in 2012 and our congenital historical amnesia than it does about the reality of America in 1960. ... If there’s one battle cry that unites our divided populace, it’s that the country has gone to hell and that almost any modern era, with the possible exception of the Great Depression, is superior in civic grace, selfless patriotism, and can-do capitalistic spunk to our present nadir. For nearly four years now—since the crash of ’08 and the accompanying ascent of Barack Obama—America has been in full decline panic. Books by public intellectuals, pundits, and politicians heralding our imminent collapse have been one of the few reliable growth industries in hard times. [...]

But given that the country has survived a civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, 9/11, and the quagmires of Vietnam and Iraq, is our current crisis proportionate to the doomsday hysteria—or have we lost perspective?... Or is something else going on here? A more revealing question raised by our declinist panic is why it has been accompanied by a strange parallel infatuation with American exceptionalism. This once little-heard term, sometimes wrongly attributed to Tocqueville, was coined by Joseph Stalin in a 1929 anti-American sneer. Now it is flung about as the ubiquitous, defensive measure of America’s global standing. And it’s often used, Joe McCarthy style, as a cudgel to bash those who are judged to have hastened our decline by being insufficiently jingoistic—notably the president [...]

If Romney fails to capitalize on his opportunity to be the last hurrah of this demographically doomed old guard, it will not be just because he is a parody of elitist noblesse oblige but because his own Americanism has been compromised by the outsourcing of his money to the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, and who knows what other exotic places that most Americans have never been to. [...]

Lost in all our declinist panic is the fact that the election of an African-American president is in itself an instance of American exceptionalism—an unexpected triumph for a country that has struggled for its entire history with the stain of slavery... That his unlikely rise has somehow been twisted into a synonym for America’s supposed collapse over the past four years may be the most disturbing and intractable evidence of our decline of all.

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