The Danger of American Exceptionalism: Covid 19 Edition!

AEOh, so many mini-strokes listening to Trump try to calm the country after failing to respond quickly and appropriately to a pandemic, but one particular phrase is a pet barfpoint of mine.

American Exceptionalism is a lie. I’m not sure exactly sure what it’s supposed to mean, but I know it’s a lie. Are we physically superior, with our impressive rates of obesity and diabetes? Have we endured so much more than dozens or hundreds of other countries who have suffered through numerous wars or famine or environmental destruction on a national scale? Is it because our corporations have the chutzpah to exploit people and natural resources around the world for fun and profit? The United States is clearly exceptional in its tremendous wealth, made possible by slavery, genocide, class warfare, greed, and, yes, some hard work and creativity, but I’m not sure how that helps us fight a pandemic.

When the President says that Americans are the strongest and most resilient people on earth in the context of fighting a pandemic, it’s not just a lie; it’s dangerous. We are not stronger or more resilient than anyone else. We are vulnerable – more or less depending on our age, health luck, profession, and government response – but we are just as human as everyone else on this planet and AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM IS NOT AN INOCULATION!

Sorry, lost my cool there. You all know this, I’m sure. I am just reminded, day in and day out, especially as I dig more deeply into our history of brutality and bigotry and lies, that words matter. Pride won’t immunize us, but humility will help. We are human, we are interconnected, we rely on each other for everything.  I will be safe, I will socially isolate, I will look out for myself, but I will remember that my world is only worth protecting because of the ways in which it plays with everyone else’s worlds, and how we all get dirtied up in the sandbox of our collective lives.

Good news: dogs can’t get Covid-19! Mine is available to supplement social contact. I can even send her out into the yard for you, so you don’t have to deal with me.

Be well, my loves.

3 thoughts on “The Danger of American Exceptionalism: Covid 19 Edition!

  1. Some words of wisdom I just read, cut and pasted from the Washington Post:

    It’s disorienting. Perhaps it can be reorienting, as Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky suggested on the Facebook page of his Los Angeles congregation, B’nai David-Judea.

    “The very last thing we need right now is a mindset of mutual distancing,” the rabbi wrote. “We actually need to be thinking in the exact opposite way. Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to how we might help that other, should the need arise.”

    Liked by 2 people

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