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An Exceptional Definition of American Exceptionalism


At the end of President Obama’s speech on Syria and the necessity of acting against the Assad regime, he offered a most exceptional definition of American exceptionalism:

America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.

That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Let me get this straight. American Exceptionalism means “If we can stop children elsewhere from being gassed by not exerting ourselves too much, we do it”?

Sadly — very sadly — that sounds about right.

Oh, and one more thing about the end of the speech . . .

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

I’m not a fan of what has become this traditional end to presidential speeches, but in my professional opinion, it’s especially out of place here.

If you’ve spent all this time talking about those dead Syrian children, based your speech on the necessity to act because of those dead Syrian children, and right at the end of the speech urged everyone to watch the videos of those dead Syrian children, maybe asking God to bless the families of those deceased victims of the gas attacks would have been the way to go at the end, instead of “God bless us, because it’s all about us.”

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Peterr

Peterr

I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.