Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is American Exceptionalism Exceptional?

"My dog is better than your dog." (Canine exceptionalism) *

"My elementary school is the best one in town." (Elementary exceptionalism.)

"My high school is the best one in the state." (Wilsonian "Rah rah rah, be true to your school" exceptionalism, Brian style)

My state is the best in the country. (State exceptionalism)

My college's football team can beat up your college's football team. (Gridiron exceptionalism)

My fraternity is better than your fraternity. (Greek exceptionalism?)

I love my country, and I celebrate that we have done many great things in this world, not the least of which are creating modern democratic governance, as well as, usually, trying to improve it and us.

But I simply cannot take the next exceptionalism step (to the nationalist level) and still look myself (or my dog ) in the mirror....

Your mileage may vary


* This is the first line of Tom Paxton's "My Dog Is Bigger Than Your Dog" Lyrics I suspect this reading of his song is where Paxton was going in those early days of his career.

Amazingly (?), there is no YouTube of him performing it. (I heard him in concert a few decades ago lamenting that he had sold the rights to a pet food company - maybe that's why.)

In lieu of that, a fantastic video of Tom on the rare Pete Seeger TV show: Ramblin' Boy

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