December 4, 1992
The only eyewitness account we have of the Puritans' first Thanksgiving (by Edward Winslow) describes three days of sporting, entertaining and feasting, hardly the pious sobriety one would ascribe to a "grim, self-righteous and self-satisfied" society. Rutten should not dismiss the Puritans so quickly. After all, the movement was diverse enough to include poet John Milton, a champion of civil liberty and free expression. While their little theocracy had a dismal civil rights record, most atheist states and so-called people's republics have done far worse.
April 13, 2012 |
This year's presidential campaign has had its share of arguments over issues long thought settled - contraception, for one. But another wrangle between Republicans and President Obama dates far earlier than that 1960s throwback and centers on the very origins of the nation. Republicans have argued that the president fails to understand that the country was divinely inspired, based on the Declaration of Independence's assertion that citizens were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The "American exceptionalism" argument, as it is known, is meant to curry favor with tea party adherents who revere the founding documents, inspire a religiously tinged sense of optimism and -- not least -- portray the president as out of the American mainstream.
April 28, 2009 |
At a stop on his grand global apology tour this spring, President Obama was asked by a reporter in France if he believed in "American exceptionalism." This is the notion that our history as the world's oldest democracy, our immigrant founding and our devotion to liberty endow the United States with a unique, providential role in world affairs.
April 16, 2014 |
The news that a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan is suspected of shooting and killing three people near Jewish community centers in Kansas seems at first glance like a disparaged past flaring briefly into the present. Americans like to imagine that the KKK belongs to a long-gone South and anti-Semitism to a distant 20th century. Sadly, this better reflects a naive faith in the nation's history of religious tolerance than the realities experienced by many religious minorities. Although the KKK has evolved and its membership has dwindled, it remains part of an American legacy of religious intolerance.
September 11, 2013 |
He invoked God, the pope and the rule of law, and recalled a time when the United States and Russia were allies "and defeated the Nazis together. " But don't think for a moment that Vladimir Putin has lost his edge. In a bluntly worded commentary published in Thursday's New York Times, the Russian president castigated the idea of American "exceptionalism," essentially called the United States an international bully and said he "carefully studied" President Obama's speech Tuesday to the nation on Syria, and determined that he disagreed with it. Still, Putin said his "working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust," and he welcomed Obama's willingness to work with Russia on a plan to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control.
November 12, 2012 |
Had Oliver Stone not been involved in "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States," which premieres Monday night on Showtime, would the 10-part miniseries have a less hectoring tone? Would voices of actual historians replace clips from Frank Capra and John Wayne movies to make points of fairly grave significance? And perhaps most important, without the regular use of histrionic questions such as these, would the essentially reasonable warning against American nationalist preening have been less condescending and therefore more convincing?
April 19, 2013 |
"It's a difficult business," writes David Graeber, "creating a new, alternative civilization. " Just open a window or turn on the TV - the same old civilization is rotting all around us. Budget cuts, police shootings, endless and ever-broadening wars, the climate in full-scale, almost-end-times spasm, a Congress of hand puppets yelping on about the manufactured crisis of the moment, a president whose answer to every crisis is More of the Same....
January 21, 2012 |
A buoyant Newt Gingrich struck a populist tone while claiming a double-digit, come-from-behind victory Saturday night, saying that South Carolina voters proved that bold ideas could trump deep campaign coffers. “Thank you to everyone in South Carolina who decided to be with us in changing Washington,” he said, speaking to hundreds of jubilant supporters overflowing a hotel ballroom here. “The biggest thing I take from the campaign in South Carolina is that it is very humbling and very sobering to have so many people who so deeply want their country to get back on the right track.
October 1, 2010 |
Jeb Bush is ruling out a presidential bid in 2012, but he sounds bullish about the future of another Florida Republican, describing Senate nominee Marco Rubio as "Reaganesque. " The former two-term governor and brother of former President George W. Bush said in an interview with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough that although he would not run for president, he does plan to be active in the political scene. "I'm troubled about the future of our country. I think we're stuck when we need to be explosively moving forward to transform how we do things," he said.
May 17, 2010 |
WASP culture is dead! Long live WASP culture! Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court says a whole lot about the state of white Anglo Saxon Protestant culture in the U.S., but it's not what you think. If her appointment is approved, there will be no white — or any other color for that matter — Protestant on the court. Some joke that this means it's high time to carve out a WASP seat on the bench. Others suggest it spells the end of WASP dominance in general.