We are living in the American Era. American is the center of the world. It has been the sole superpower of the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Is America really a great place to live? I remember when Obama was once asked if America was exceptional. He replied, that it was–but in the same way that Greece was exceptional, and other countries. This was essentially a no.
The American Dream is simply a dream of exceptionality. However, why do people want to come here? In my pursuit for education I have repeatedly heard about the atrocities that America has committed and how reviled America is around the globe. Revisionist historian like James Loewen and Howard Zinn indoctrinate students every year with their constant peddling of American denunciation. Yet, it still seems that people flock literally in hoards to get here. What is great about America? What really makes it unique? Why is it–well, exceptional?
Take the idea of actually being American. Let’s say I wanted to go to India because it just sounds “liberating” (despite the caste system, dowry, and arranged marriage). Once I get there, I will find out that there is no way that even through citizenship that I will ever be accepted as Indian. Being Indian requires two things. Brown skin and Indian parents. Being Indian is a function of birth and blood. Without Indian parents and dark skin, I can never be Indian. Contrast that with the United States. This is an area in which our country is superior to any land in the world. While many call our country exclusive, it is actually inclusive. One can be granted citizenship and actually become American! Being American has nothing to do with blood or birth; it has to do with embracing a certain way of life. The life of the American dream. Now, the unfortunate problem is what the “multiculturalists” are selling students in colleges and high schools across America today.
Multiculturalists actually provide the most “intellectual” critique of America to date. This group is comprised mainly of minority activists and sympathetic white liberals who agree with foreign “ideology.” In Nathan Glazer’s book, We Are All Multiculturalists Now, the prevalence of their impact is shown in great detail. This group has actually become one of the leading shapers of young American minds. What is their primary message? They teach that Western Civilization and specifically America, is defined by oppression. America n History is presented as an unrelenting series of atrocities against blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, women, and natives of the Third World. This thematic material is the fiber for Howard Zinn’s textbook A People’s History of the United States. Zinn isn’t the only one though. We see it with James Lowen’s book, Lies My Teacher Told Me. Also there is Cornel West, who teaches African-American studies at Harvard. He says that American society is “chronically racist, sexist and homophobic.” Political scientist Ali Mazrui goes even further, charging that the United States has been, and continues to be, “a breeding ground for racism, exploitation and genocide.”
The saddest part of all this is that multiculturalists insist that immigrants and minorities should not assimilate into American culture, because to do so is to cease being one’s self and to succumb to racism! Perhaps Stanley Fish put it best, “Common values. National unity. Assimilation. These are now the code words and phrases for an agenda that need no longer speak in the accents of the Know-Nothing party of the nineteenth century or the Ku Klux Klan of the twentieth.” The objective of this movement is to encourage nonwhites in America to remain separate and to teach white Americans to accept and cherish these differences. For the multiculturalist, diversity is the basis for American identity. As a popular slogan has it, “All we have in common is our diversity.”
This group of ill-informed thinkers also seeks to fill white Americans with an overpowering sense of guilt and lame so that they accept responsibility for the sufferings of minorities in America and poorer people in the rest of the world. Rev. Jesse Jackson offers a solution: REPARATIONS. “The amount we are owed,” says black activist Haki Madhubuti, “is in the trillions of dollars.”
President Obama was asked, “Do you believe in American Exceptionalism?” To this he responded, “I believe just as the Brits believe in British Exceptionalism, and just as the Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism…” Remember that one?
Our country is arguably the greatest nation. We have been the center of the world for many years! However, this view is going to be seen as ethnocentric.
First of all, the liberal will argue immediately that ethnocentrism is purely a Western concept and that we have foisted our “we are better than you” mentality on the world. However, to make this case, one admits that they have a limited knowledge of history. The ancient Greeks distinguished between the civilized and the barbarians. Later, the medieval Christians drew their own distinctions: between the believer and the infidel. Later, they would also draw another line, this time between the white man, and the yellow and brown and black men, who were held to be inferior.
In other cultures, we see the Chinese believed themselves to be the “Middle Kingdom.” They felt they were the center of the universe. They were so convinced of this that Western visitors like Matteo Ricci could only persuade the Chinese to use maps that were redrawn to place China at the center of the world! Indian kings called themselves, Chakravarty Rajas, which literally means “universal sovereigns.” Then of course there is Islam, who was on the opposite side of Christianity In the crusades.
Now, these claims made by great nations may sound plausible, but even small and primitive tribes make similar claims. Anthropologist Ruth Benedict has shown that the less developed a tribe is, the more ethnocentric it is.
Exceptionalism, or in this case, ethnocentrism are not exclusive to the United States. It is the world we live in.
Another argument will be surely made against the United States. That is the argument of slavery. This must be debunked. First of all, slavery is wrong. No matter the situation, slavery is wrong. However, to say that slavery was purely Western, or to charge America with being the only pro-slave nation in the world, is asinine. In his study Slavery and Social Death, the West Indian sociologist Orlando Patterson writes, “Slavery has existed from the dawn of human history, in the most primitive of human societies and in the most civilized. There is no region on earth that has not at some time harbored the institution.” A brief history of the world confirms this claim. The Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians practiced slavery. The Christians, Indians, and Arabs partook in slavery. It was widespread in Greece, Rome, and sub-Saharan Africa. American Indians practiced it before Columbus came to America.
Well, if slavery isn’t Western, what is? Simple. The movement to END slavery. Abolition is exclusively Western. The historian JM Roberts writes, “No civilization once dependent on slavery has ever been able to eradicate it, except the Western.” Now, of course slaves didn’t want to be slaves. History is replete with runaways, revolts, and so forth. However, when slaves were captured, if they got away, they were perfectly happy to take other people as slaves.
Never in the history of the world, outside of America, has a group of people eligible to own slaves moved to abolish the practice. This attitude is reflected by the great Abraham Lincoln: “As I would be a slave, so I would not be a master.” The uniqueness of this approach is confirmed by the little known fact that African chiefs, who profited from the slave trade, sent delegations to the West to protest the abolition of slavery.
People also come to America because of the opportunity to achieve. This is a country founded on the idea of the entrepreneur. The merchant, trader, or entrepreneur has been reviled in most countries through all of history. This wasn’t a high profession in most places. Confucius said himself, “the highest man knows virtue, the low man knows what is profitable.” Even in Europe, entrepreneurship is scorned. It is better to have inherited money than earned money. Inherited money is somehow virtuous, and earned money is a product of greed. The founders flipped this understanding. The entrepreneur is the enzyme for capitalism. When we hear the phrase, “You didn’t build that….” What he is essentially saying is that you got there in a way that wasn’t virtuous. It probably incorporated greed. If you somehow made more than someone else, it couldn’t have been because of merit, it had to be because the playing field wasn’t level.
I agree that America provides a place in which there is the opportunity for achievement. However, one man said “The real reason people come here is because in America, even the poorest people are fat!” There is economic opportunity, but the chance to write the script of your own life is the real American dream. The destiny is up to you. This is not so in other regions of the world. We are in the driver’s seat of our own future.
D’Souza, Dinesh, Whats So Great About America, Regenery Publishing, Washington DC 2002