Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Sunday, September 14, 2008

American Exceptionalism

There has been some discussion around the web on the topic of American Exceptionalism, brought about by the recent Q&A of Senator McCain at Columbia University. Dr. Sanity's piece is quite illuminating, as she includes a transcript of the question-and-answer session, and notes that the audience was completely silent during and after McCain's answers. I would like to answer Judy Woodruff's questions myself:
Woodruff: Senator, I want to come back to something you said earlier, I think you used the word exceptional and unique about being an American. On this 9/11, this special day, what — help us understand what you think it means to be an American. And I don't mean that in the obvious way.

I mean, people who live in Canada, who live in Mexico, around the world feel special about their country, so what is it that's different about being in America? Are Americans better than people in some of these other countries? We hear the term "exceptionalism" about the United States.
No, Judy, American's aren't "better than people in some of those other countries," Americans are the people of all those other countries. That's what makes America exceptional. From the perspective of political freedom, where else but in America can an Austrian immigrant become governor of a state with a Gross State Product so high it places seventh worldwide behind Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and China, but ahead of Spain, Canada, India, South Korea and Mexico? Where else but in America could a second-generation Indian immigrant become a governor? Where else but in America can people come, work hard, and achieve a life that in their country of origin would represent unimaginable wealth? What other country is so attractive that people literally risk death in the deserts and oceans to reach it? And they come here, by and large, not to wall themselves off in enclaves of their own kind, but to be Americans.

America is exceptional, Judy, because America is the combination of all the peoples of the world, many of whom made a conscious choice to become Americans, and many more are the immediate descendants of such people. Look at the last Olympic games. Review just some of the names of American medal winners: Liukin, Liezak, Torres, Vanderkaay, Zagunis, Kai, Rodriguez, Taurasi, O'Reilly, Ah Mow-Santos, Haneef-Park, Nnamani. Those are all AMERICAN names, Judy. Don't you think that's exceptional?

McCain's reply was still very good:
MCCAIN: I do believe in American exceptionalism.

And I think it was best articulated by our founding fathers. But I also think that my hero, Teddy Roosevelt, expressed it very well, and other leaders throughout our history.

We're the only nation I know in the world that really is deeply concerned about adhering to the principle that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creators with certain rights. And those we have tried to bring to the world. And we have not so much militarily, but through example, through leadership, through economic assistance.

Look at what we did for Europe after World War II, look at the continuous efforts we make throughout the world. Look at the efforts we're making to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. There's a lot more America can do.

And I love these other countries, and I'm not trying to denigrate them. But I know of no other country in the world with the generosity of spirit and the concern for fellow human beings than the United States of America, and I think that goes back to our very beginnings.
And I think it goes back to our national makeup. We are all those other nations, often the best of them.

Woodruff presses:
WOODRUFF: Does that make America better than these other…?

MCCAIN: I think it makes us exceptional. I think it makes us exceptional in the kind of citizenry we have and the kind of service and sacrifice that we are capable of.

And I mean that in no disrespect to any other nation, our close and unique relationship with the British. I have — I'm not trying to in any way denigrate any other nation, but it doesn't in any way diminish my pride in the history of this nation, which has literally shed our blood in all four corners of the earth many times in defense of someone else's freedom and have tried to further the principles of freedom and democracy everywhere in the world. I think we're dedicated to that proposition. And, frankly, I think we've done a pretty good job.
And nobody so much as applauded.

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