The loss of national sovereignty, the loss of our history and the loss of national exceptionalism.
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This June, the 65th anniversary of D-Day was celebrated. For most Americans and most Europeans it is simply another day in late spring. Some octogenarians may remember that fateful day when the liberation of Europe began. Many, however, knowing nothing about history will be disinclined to pay any special attention to the day.
I recall seeing Steven Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan, in which, with extraordinary verisimilitude, the director recaptured the events at Omaha Beach. As the film began and the bloodshed was evident, a young lady seated behind me asked her friend “what war do you think this is?”
For the fallen heroes lying in their graves this ignorance is lamentable. Perhaps it explains why President Obama can apologize and apologize again for the sins in American foreign policy and many Americans can applaud, or at the very least, accept his gesture for foreign consumption. I cannot. I am appalled that we can ignore, forget or rationalize away American heroism.
I don’t think we should ever apologize for what the United States has done to extricate millions from the yoke of totalitarian control. It is not arrogance to recall the limbs that were shattered and the bodies broken to set history on the course of democracy, imperfect as it is.
3. Loss of Exceptionalism
Godfrey Hodgson, a British journalist and associate fellow at the University at Oxford, has a new book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, that is an attempt to undermine the deeply held belief that the United States is a morally and politically superior nation.
In his treatise he accuses Daniel Boorstin, Frederick Jackson Turner, Perry Miller among others as perpetuators of a self congratulatory myth, a myth that has shaped the popular imagination of Americans throughout history. From Hodgson’s perspective the apostles of exceptionalism see the United States as a nation of “unrivaled virtue, a chosen hand with a special destiny and a duty to spread liberty, democracy and the rule of law, ‘a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom’ in the words of President George Bush.”
Hodgson sees himself as a debunker. He notes, “Not all ideas about America exceptionalism are untrue, but important pieces are untrue, and it is very unhealthy for a society to believe things about itself that are not true.”
As I see it, Hodgson has created a red herring and then beats it till it is disfigured. The United States is an imperfect nation. Its government has made mistakes, overplayed its hand at times, even corrupted its principles at various moments in the past, yet a case — a valid case — can still be made for American exceptionalism.
After all, only one nation on the globe has assimilated millions of immigrants who sought refuge on American shores. The Europeans are generally incapable of integrating new immigrants into their nations as enclaves across the continent suggest.
The United States is the only true racial laboratory on the globe, notwithstanding its history of Jim Crow. Could a Barack Obama be elected anywhere in Europe? Could a Jamaican be the next prime minister of Great Britain or an Algerian president of France?
When the demonstrators at Tiananmen Square built a monument to their aspirations was it the Eiffel Tower they tried to duplicate or perhaps a tribute to the Prophet Mohammed? No, they constructed a statue of liberty because the American symbol embodies the spirit and vision they hoped to achieve.
No major nation on the globe has distributed wealth across the board as effectively as the United States. Even the poorest elements of the American population enjoy privileges and material things that are the envy of most Africans and many Asians.
While Hodgson glibly asserts “the thuggishness” of American foreign policy, he consciously overlooks the sacrifices the United States made in two world wars to save Europe from dictatorship and, despite his criticism of the Bush foreign policy he calls imperialistic, an argument can be made that the United States today is attempting to create a stable democracy in the midst of backward tyrannies.
Notwithstanding the obvious fact that Europeans have at long last come to love freedom, they still seem to be incapable of defending it. They depend on the United States to provide the backbone for NATO and whenever there are wars or battles somewhere on the globe, Europeans ask what will the Americans do.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?