“[D]reams of perfecting human society always runs smack into human nature.”

— Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher at American Thinker

When I hear people from other countries bad-mouthing the U.S., it bugs me. Don’t they see that we’re the good guys? Can’t they see what a great society we have here? But, what really bothers me is when Americans bad-mouth America. These people actually live here, yet, to hear some of them talk, you’d think we were the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany. Why is that? Why do these people only see evil and corruption and all the imperfections?

In a debate with Gore Vidal and Richard Higgs about why America is hated, Hoover Institution scholar and author Dinesh D’Souza was asked by the moderator why he thought that very bright, literate, and well-spoken people such as Vidal and Higgs could feel so profoundly “alienated” from the United States as it exists now.

Dinesh D'Souza

A very youthful-looking Dinesh D'Souza

D’Souza’s response:

One reason they are alienated is that they are Americans. And, by this I mean it is a peculiarity of America to generate within the country a kind of anti-Americanism that I don’t see other countries generating. And I’ve asked myself why that is. I think one reason is that I’m comparing America to other countries. I’m using an historical or comparative standard. Americans tend to use a Utopian standard. They tend to judge America by a standard that no other country could survive, and therefore they smearingly say, ‘Well, Americans are only pursuing their self-interests. They’re only after oil. They’re only after resources.’ But we expect everybody else to pursue their self-interests. So, the very fact… I mean, if the Chinese or the Arabs killed 10,000 of their own people, what is the world reaction? Most people sigh and then they go back to eating their breakfast. And why? Because people kind of expect the Chinese and the Arabs to do that. But, if America in the middle of a war accidentally kills 200 people — bombs a school or hospital — it’s a worldwide outrage, there are protests, there’s an investigation, people are halled before the Hill.

What does this mean? This, to me, testifies to the moral superiority of America, because it is judged by its own residents (and by others) by a standard that no other country could meet.”

I think D’Souza is definitely onto something here. (Although, I might have qualified that it is more often those Americans on the political “center-Left” who tend to use a Utopian standard. The farther Left, the more irrational the expectations. But, I digress….) Despite all the good the U.S. has done and continues to do — e.g., provide its citizens unmatched freedoms and opportunities; fight fascism and remove brutal dictators; donate billions of dollars’ worth of food, medicine, construction materials & labor, and other aid (from both the government and private citizens & organizations); forgive debts of poor nations; etc. –, it is never sufficient for those looking for perfection and constantly suspicious of our nobler motives.

Of course (and D’Souza has said as much elsewhere), this is not to say we should ignore the shortcomings of the U.S., both present and historical. President Obama certainly likes to apologize to the world for America whenever he travels, just as he continuously pointed out America’s shameful imperfections — or, at least, what he perceives them to be — while on the campaign trail. (Which he still seems to be on, come to think of it.) But, whereas the Left tend to harp on the negative and accuse and self-flagellate and dwell in the past, the Right tend to acknowledge — that is, when it can be agreed that injustice has been done — and press forward, striving to do better. (Ironic that the Left likes to be called “Progressive”, huh? Who are they trying to convince?)

Alright, I’ll stop before I get off on a tangent. (F.y.i., I am planning a multi-parter on American exceptionalism in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that….)

Now, maybe my “right-wing bias” is showing, and I am generalizing, but that’s how I see it. Anyone agree? Disagree? Half ‘n half? Is D’Souza off his rocker? Am I? (No comments from my relatives, thank you very much.)

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Comments
  1. gsdrew91 says:

    I don’t think you can overlook that liberals are obsessed with moral relativism. That is the prime reason they do not embrace American Exceptionalism. I think Obama said he believes in American Exceptionalism but also believe that the English believe in their exceptionalism.

    • sirrahc says:

      You’re absolutely right, Glenn. I guess that would translate to an attitude of: “Nobody’s country or government is really better than any others. They just have competing goals.” Or, something like that.

      If Obama really said that about American exceptionalism, then he really does view it as mere opinion — true for you, but not for me. Difference is, people like you and me think America really is exceptional, in an ‘objective truth’ kinda way. That’s not to say others can’t be proud of their heritage, ethnicity, etc. But, that’s a different question.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Hope you return often. Btw, yours is my 200th (non-spam) comment since starting this blog last October. Wish I had a prize for ya…

  2. pastorjeffcma says:

    If Dinesh is writing or speaking read it or go hear him–period! He presents this as a perspective issue and I think he is right on. One of the things that came out of the much ballyhooed history standards that came out of Texas had to do with an overarching thesis–the old standard was about teaching students how to operate as global citizens. The new standards speak of teaching students how to operate as United States citizens. I think this speaks to your post.

    • sirrahc says:

      Interesting. To some, I guess a nation-centric view means “to heck with the rest of the world”, but our founding principles and overall history are evidence against that. But, then, we’re back to who/what you compare against.

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