American Exceptionalism Lecture 3
A starting point definition This is the original thinking behind the term “American Exceptionalism” <ul><li>The U.S. is a ...
So, is a purely Economic definition the only one? <ul><li>By no means! Let’s start with Tocqueville’s discussion of “what ...
Okay, “AE” is still sounding pretty boring…what’s the big deal? From the work of Dorothy Ross <ul><li>There are 3 generic ...
The idea of AE held by most Americans <ul><li>The U.S. and its people differ from most other nations (some of the less-edu...
Some ugly comparisons <ul><li>Strong critics of any notion of AE state that other nations who also held a notion of themse...
A small piece we might all agree upon… <ul><li>What makes the U.S. “different” is that its citizenry includes people from ...
A quick historical review <ul><li>Puritan roots </li></ul>
Is religion that big a deal in the U.S.? <ul><li>Ongoing argument: “Is the U.S. a ‘nation founded on Christianity?’” </li>...
Historical Review of AE, continued <ul><li>2. American Revolution </li></ul>
And… <ul><li>3. Immigration:  A core argument of AE is that America is attractive to immigrants for two reasons: </li></ul...
More history of AE… <ul><li>4. The Cold War </li></ul>
How AE has manifested itself in the thoughts of American Leaders <ul><li>Abraham Lincoln….America is a nation “conceived i...
Our Dirtiest Exceptional “Secret” <ul><li>This “secret” is more secret to Americans than to other members of the internati...
The forms of American violence <ul><li>Mob violence </li></ul><ul><li>Interpersonal violence </li></ul><ul><li>War </li></ul>
How can we explain the American ability to overlook our violent history? <ul><li>Historians </li></ul><ul><li>The American...
So, are Americans doomed to perpetuate their violent history? <ul><li>George W. Bush’s approval rating was about 29% when ...
What  is  American Exceptionalism? <ul><li>A Fair View of the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>A country with unlimited opportunity ...
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L 3 American Exceptionalism

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  • L 3 American Exceptionalism

    1. 1. American Exceptionalism Lecture 3
    2. 2. A starting point definition This is the original thinking behind the term “American Exceptionalism” <ul><li>The U.S. is a capitalist country qualitatively different from other capitalist nations </li></ul>
    3. 3. So, is a purely Economic definition the only one? <ul><li>By no means! Let’s start with Tocqueville’s discussion of “what makes America exceptional” in 1831 in his work Democracy in America ! </li></ul>
    4. 4. Okay, “AE” is still sounding pretty boring…what’s the big deal? From the work of Dorothy Ross <ul><li>There are 3 generic varieties of American exceptionalism: </li></ul><ul><li>Supernaturalist explanations </li></ul><ul><li>Genetic interpretations </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental explanations </li></ul>
    5. 5. The idea of AE held by most Americans <ul><li>The U.S. and its people differ from most other nations (some of the less-educated may think “differ from” means “are better than”) </li></ul><ul><li>Progress and “manifest destiny” </li></ul><ul><li>Fulfillment of the “American Dream” </li></ul>
    6. 6. Some ugly comparisons <ul><li>Strong critics of any notion of AE state that other nations who also held a notion of themselves as exceptional included </li></ul><ul><li>The British Empire at its height </li></ul><ul><li>The USSR </li></ul><ul><li>Nazi Germany </li></ul><ul><li>Ancient Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Imperial China </li></ul>
    7. 7. A small piece we might all agree upon… <ul><li>What makes the U.S. “different” is that its citizenry includes people from all over the world, people who themselves, or their ancestors, chose to come here. </li></ul><ul><li>The forgotten footnote is that all too often we forget that they came here to occupy a land that already had an indigenous population. It was not an empty continent. </li></ul>
    8. 8. A quick historical review <ul><li>Puritan roots </li></ul>
    9. 9. Is religion that big a deal in the U.S.? <ul><li>Ongoing argument: “Is the U.S. a ‘nation founded on Christianity?’” </li></ul><ul><li>Separation of Church and State? </li></ul><ul><li>Ceremonial Deism </li></ul>
    10. 10. Historical Review of AE, continued <ul><li>2. American Revolution </li></ul>
    11. 11. And… <ul><li>3. Immigration: A core argument of AE is that America is attractive to immigrants for two reasons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic and political opportunities are unusually high, and that the U.S. possesses a high degree of social mobility. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike many Old World countries, immigrants can become Americans by adopting American culture and values. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. More history of AE… <ul><li>4. The Cold War </li></ul>
    13. 13. How AE has manifested itself in the thoughts of American Leaders <ul><li>Abraham Lincoln….America is a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” </li></ul><ul><li>The belief of George W. Bush that God wanted him to be President. </li></ul><ul><li>How do all American presidents end their speeches? “God bless America.” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Our Dirtiest Exceptional “Secret” <ul><li>This “secret” is more secret to Americans than to other members of the international community: </li></ul><ul><li>Violence is the American Way* </li></ul><ul><li>Ira Leonard, Professor of History at Southern CT State University, adapted from a speech, 2003 </li></ul>
    15. 15. The forms of American violence <ul><li>Mob violence </li></ul><ul><li>Interpersonal violence </li></ul><ul><li>War </li></ul>
    16. 16. How can we explain the American ability to overlook our violent history? <ul><li>Historians </li></ul><ul><li>The American population itself </li></ul>
    17. 17. So, are Americans doomed to perpetuate their violent history? <ul><li>George W. Bush’s approval rating was about 29% when he left office. </li></ul><ul><li>About 75% of Americans opposed the Iraq war at the time he left office. Most of those in opposition believed they had been “sold” the war through lies. </li></ul><ul><li>What do you think? (Save it for discussion days!) </li></ul>
    18. 18. What is American Exceptionalism? <ul><li>A Fair View of the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>A country with unlimited opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is equal </li></ul><ul><li>Civil Rights are protected </li></ul><ul><li>The Rule of Law </li></ul><ul><li>Positive outlook toward the future </li></ul><ul><li>Progress and potential fuel the economy </li></ul><ul><li>Or…Ethnocentric Chauvinism </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. democracy is the best kind of government for everyone so we bring it to them (Iraq). </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. looks out for its own interests to the exclusion of cooperating with the rest of the world (i.e. Kyoto Treaty) </li></ul><ul><li>The U.S. has a double standard of behavior for itself and other countries (Abu Ghraib). </li></ul>Could it be some of both?

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