COMMENTARY: Un-American Exceptionalism



Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY Dear Kyle Smith: I just finished reading your recent mocking (or was it simply racist) article detailing the President’s and your, shall we say, “competing” concepts of American “exceptionalism.” Anyway, Kyle, let’s get going and see what we can do about “leveling the playing field” a bit by way of a little mockery from the “port” side of America’s great racialism divide, if you get my drift. For openers, I feel compelled to inform you that in addition to reading your article, I also boned up on your schooling, and right off the bat I’m very concerned about America’s educational “exceptionalism.” Just kidding. Well, not really. In any event, here we go.

So, Mr. Smith, I’m sure you’ve noticed just how “exceptional” America’s police forces are when it comes to terminating the mentally ill. What a relief the unburdening of their care must be for the families and government who’d been tasked with their safekeeping (whoops, my apologies, Kyle, I’d almost forgotten that your buddy Ronnie had pretty much wiped the government’s hands clean of all responsibility for them some thirty-five years ago). No other country’s servers and protectors do it better! American “exceptionalism”? Beyond a reasonable doubt!

And whilst I’m on the subject of “force,” there’s sure as hell no equivocating over our “exceptionalism” when it comes to initiating wars, right? Hell, with a track record that can boast the likes of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and, OMG, let us not forget, Grenada, “exceptionalism” should be the only term that comes to mind!

And I’d certainly be remiss if I were to march on without a howitzer salute to the “exceptional” method America’s political leadership continues to deploy in determining just who among us will be afforded the “exceptional” opportunity of living, dying or getting themselves severely maimed in all those “exceptionally” well initiated, well executed wars of ours. Maybe said powers-that-be long ago determined that perhaps all of that American “exceptionalism” wasn’t really all that “exceptional” after all, and so we would no longer require everyone’s participation in protecting it!

And, by all means, let us never forget just how “exceptional” America was in the treatment of Native Americans and Negroes. Come now, Kyle, you’ve got to admit that we were nothing short of “exceptional” when it came to employing the mixed martial arts of occupation, confiscation, subjugation and, at times, just plain old extermination! Manifestly destined American “exceptionalism”? You bet your Dred Scott Decision!

By the way, did I mention just how “exceptional” America is when it comes to divvying up its wealth? A plutocratic 0.01 percent of the populace slice, dice and chunk up on 10 percent of the bread! In the meantime, millions of Americans go hungry on any given day, more than 600,000 find themselves homeless on any given night. American “exceptionalism” at its shining-city-on-a-hill best, right, Kyley?

And, what about our establishing the impossible-to-surpass standard for “exceptionalism” in white-collar criminality? Trillions of dollars stolen from America’s middle and lower classes; an entire nation brought to its economic knees; and a tiny little two-bit independent Ponzi-schemer who wasn’t even involved in the master scam is the only one who ends up “collared”! And the Oscar for “exceptionalism” in Escaping Massive Criminal Fraud Prosecution goes to … America’s Wall Street Wrigglers!

And, under no circumstances should I fail to highlight the “exceptionally” humane manner in which an “exceptionally” compassionate American government has left upwards of 13 million hard-working yet fear-ridden undocumented immigrants twisting in the partisan (read: bigoted) wind while they continue to perform all the dirty but necessary jobs that nearly every “documented” American wouldn’t be caught dead having to do. American “exceptionalism”? You bet your sweet birthright!

And, this “other side of the story” certainly wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the “exceptional” way in which our government has gone, and continues to go about ensuring the privacy of its citizenry. Of course I’m pulling that “right” leg of yours, Kyle! In fact, I’m being facetious to a degree heretofore incomprehensible to all but members of America’s unimaginably “exceptional” domestic spying apparatus. Read my lips, Mr. Smith: no other nation on the face of the earth can or does surveil its citizens — or more doggedly hunts down and interminably incarcerates the brave whistle-blowers who expose it — to such a level of “exceptionalism” as the good old USA!

Lastly (well, not really, since there are so many other glaring examples of American “exceptionalism” that haven’t been included due to space constraints) there’s the impossible-to-ignore matter of the “exceptional” degree to which racism and bigotry pervade the hearts, minds and actions of detractors of the Obama presidency. Unquestionably it represents one of the most utterly despicable examples of the kind of “exceptionalism” still alive and well and living in America. On the other hand, maybe it’s to be expected in a country that can’t even agree on an honest, let alone accurate, definition of the term.

There is a particular heretofore unmentioned enterprise in which America truly is “exceptional,” however, and it is indeed deserving of widespread public exposure. Guessed it yet? The enterprise is: violence! Yep, America is the unchallenged world champion in the production, consumption and exportation of chaos, mayhem, havoc and pandemonium. From games, to sports, to music, to movies, to television, we top the charts in every known means of violence exploitation. Nobody, and I mean nobody, does it better! And that doesn’t even count our being the foremost exporter of death, debility and destruction “hardware” on the planet! Methinks there are some American “exceptionalisms” better left unlauded.

Had enough, Kyle? You see, unlike you and the rest of your intolerant ilk, there are some of us who actually care enough about America to want to make her look more openly and truthfully at her past and present, and more candidly, equitably and inclusively toward her future. Admittedly, we don’t take kindly to lectures about her “exceptionalism” from bigots, racists, hypocrites, phonies and sugarcoaters. So, to wrap things up, I’m thinking it’s about time you took the blinders off; time you floated down from that xenophobic, plutocratic, alabaster tower; time you awakened to the realities of America’s “exceptionalism.” I’m thinking it might do wonders for such a “fair, balanced and impartial” little mocker like yourself. Sincerely, Uncle Bill.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Doesn’t really look like Teddy Roosevelt. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.