Will the Coronavirus Kill American Exceptionalism?


Johann Neem is an important voice in our defense of American institutions, civil society, and an educated citizenry.  Here is a taste of his recent piece at The Washington Post: The Next Victim of the Coronavirus: American Exceptionalism.”

The rise of Donald Trump, and the embarrassing failure of the American state to respond effectively to the coronavirus, has proved to the world that the United States is no longer exceptional nor, in President Barack Obama’s word, indispensable. The inability of the American government to protect its citizens from a pandemic and provide global leadership vividly illustrates that American exceptionalism is dead.

This might be a good thing. American exceptionalism has allowed Americans on the left and right alike to pretend that we could evade the problems facing other societies. Now is the time to accept the reality that we are part of the world and its history, not exceptions to it.

This requires dismantling aspects of American mythology that have made it harder for us to address deep problems in our society. All nations rely on myths, and perhaps none can survive without them. But today, some of the ideas we hold dear about ourselves — that America is a country of rugged individuals, destined to be the world’s first multicultural democracy and too strong and important to falter — are impeding our ability to overcome our most pressing challenges.

Read the rest here.