Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taking Exception with Exceptionalism

Here's a must read by Shelby Steele: "Obama and the Burden of Exceptionalism"

The money passage:
...Therefore it is not surprising that America developed a liberalism—a political left—that took issue with our exceptionalism. It is a left that has no more fervent mission than to recast our greatness as the product of racism, imperialism and unbridled capitalism.

But this leaves the left mired in an absurdity: It seeks to trade the burdens of greatness for the relief of mediocrity. When greatness fades, when a nation contracts to a middling place in the world, then the world in fact no longer knocks on its door. (Think of England or France after empire.) To civilize America, to redeem the nation from its supposed avarice and hubris, the American left effectively makes a virtue of decline—as if we can redeem America only by making her indistinguishable from lesser nations.
Did you catch that?  The Left "makes a virtue of decline."

He goes on to say that "America seems to be facing a pivotal moment: Do we move ahead by advancing or by receding—by reaffirming the values that made us exceptional or by letting go of those values, so that a creeping mediocrity begins to spare us the burdens of greatness?"

Sounds like the Great Reckoning to me.


  1. Mr. Steele's article is fantastic. He really "nails" it. However, the question that still drives me crazy is "why"!? Why does the left feel this way? I understand coming-of-age in the 1960's-1970's, the counter-culture, anti-government stuff...but why were/are some susceptible to those influences and the rest of us able to maintain reason? The Great Reckoning? I hope dear Sage.

  2. I think that for most people who indulge this, it's a pose, it's cool, chicks dig it, etc. Most grow out of it, as in grow up. But some don't. Some remain especially angry, an unwarranted anger, by the way, but one they become habituated to, one they feed on. Others, like Obama, who I don't find to be particularly angry, have never had to come to terms with it by confrontation with real life. While I don't wish his early childhood on anyone, his life has otherwise been charmed. Think about it. Good/the best schools, everyone telling you how smart you are. Nary a job as far as anyone knows. He's like a Kennedy heir.