September 25, 2012 |
President Obama did an admirable job in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in explaining why the United States does not punish those who engage in offensive speech like the infamous video defaming the prophet Muhammad. He was more expansive in defending protection for unbridled free speech than was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, though not to the extent of explicitly challenging calls by Muslim leaders -- including the prime minster of Turkey, a NATO ally -- for "international legal regulations against attacks on what people deem sacred.
July 19, 2006
Re "First Kyoto, now the World Cup," Current, July 16 Michael Skube's defense of the "American exceptionalism" that so many Americans use to justify ignoring, or ridiculing, soccer neglects a couple of issues. Exceptional works both ways: We can be taking exception, which we seem to be with regard to soccer, or we can be exceptional at it, which might be more in keeping with our collective national ego. For Americans, winning the World Cup, or even doing well in it, is really the point.
May 15, 2012 |
On Monday, shortly after delivering a speech to the graduating class of Barnard College extolling the role of women in public life, President Obama continued his theme with a visit to ABC's “The View.” His appearance will be broadcasted Tuesday. It was his fourth time on the show, his second as president. The ladies of “The View” like the president, and as it turns out, he's pretty good for them; in July 2010, the president helped the distaff gabfest earn its best ratings ever (6.59 million people watched the show, according to the network)
November 2, 2008 |
Sarah Vowell has a face like a clean plate: round and serviceable, perfect for dishing up history. On a weekday morning in Santa Monica, she is wearing a dark, square-necked blouse, hair in a slightly stylish version of a bowl cut; she wouldn't look entirely wrong in a starched collar. Vowell -- author, "This American Life" contributor, voice of Violet Parr in "The Incredibles" -- has come to town to give a pair of readings from her new book, "The Wordy Shipmates" (Riverhead: 272 pp., $25.95)
December 2, 2011 |
If you want a gauge of an America on the downward slope, you could look at the recent poll commissioned by the newspaper the Hill, in which a startling 69% of respondents said they considered the country to be in decline. Or you could just consider the soaring language of this season's presidential candidates. Mitt Romney, in a recent Republican debate on foreign policy, was typical, insisting that "this century must be an American century" in which "America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.
March 2, 2004 |
By the end of his career, the Pulitzer Prize-wining historian Daniel Boorstin, who died last weekend at 89, had come to be derided in some quarters as a conservative. In an age that viewed national myths with skepticism, Boorstin celebrated American exceptionalism and touted Western achievements.
September 17, 2013
Re "The end of U.S. exceptionalism," Opinion, Sept. 12 Apparently vexed by the "oddness" of President Obama's speech on Syria last week, Timothy Garton Ash's commentary is an odd piece itself. The term "exceptionalism" was used in the title but never again appeared or explained thereafter, hence leaving the reader guessing. "Exceptionalism" in this article could mean "isolationist" at times and "interventionist" at others, or both, depending on the zeitgeist. Parenthetically, for your "average" American reader, "exceptionalism" has often been thought of as American material and cultural superiority.
June 29, 2012 |
Music and athletics are sometimes not a natural fit. Yes, basketball stars hang with hip-hop stars, and X-Games riders hang out with punk rockers, but the worlds of jocks and musicians don't exactly intersect. When they do, it usually results in extremes. In one corner, there's complete camp -- "The Super Bowl Shuffle" -- and in the other, there's complete schmaltz --R. Kelly's "Space Jam"-affiliated "I Believe I Can Fly. " Muse had perhaps one of the more thankless tasks in crafting a song for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
October 24, 2010 |
So the options are these: You laugh with Kenny Powers, you laugh at Kenny Powers, you laugh at yourself for not laughing at Kenny Powers, you laugh at everyone else who does laugh at Kenny Powers. How about just not laughing? Now in the middle of its second season on HBO, "Eastbound & Down" remains one of the most perverse, confounding shows on television, a miasma of upturned middle fingers, offhand racism, casual drug use and profanity, all buoyed by a potent sense of American exceptionalism.
September 10, 2012 |
It can sometimes take a tragedy to reveal a truth. Who does not remember where they were on Sept. 11 when they heard that the towers had come down? But terrible times also can provide insight that might otherwise never come. In 2001, I was teaching in Chicago. My main break from work was frequent participation in a daily pickup soccer game that I stumbled onto soon after arriving in town. It was a virtual United Nations, with players from Argentina, Russia, Germany, Iran, Italy, Turkey, Georgia, Brazil, Poland, Korea, China and Mexico.