Wednesday, November 10, 2010

China the exceptional

Last week, we took on Peter Beinart and his amorous feelings towards China as a counter to his perception of the "lunatic notion" of American exceptionalism.

Again, it's come to this: how badly is the statist brand tarnished that they can no longer look to the Greece fire that is Europe as the end-state of their progressive march but rather cast their lonely eyes to China? China, where natural resource exploitation, command and control blended with crony capitalism economics and forced abortions happen.

Now others are jumping on the bandwagon: Jonah Goldberg in response to Beinart's column, explains that the concept of American exceptionalism is not new and certainly not some exclusively right-wing construct.

"The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America," "and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one." Ever since, historians have argued that America's lack of a feudal past, its Puritan roots, the realism of its revolutionary ambitions and many other ingredients contributed to America's status as the "first new nation," to borrow a phrase from Seymour Martin Lipset, who spent his life writing about American exceptionalism.

Goldberg goes on to give several other examples of the study of this country's exceptionalism as a historical pursuit.

And the Washington Times, on the President's own dubiousness towards American exceptionalism, provides this quote from Margaret Thatcher:

"Americans and Europeans alike sometimes forget how unique is the United States of America. No other nation has been built upon an idea, the idea of liberty. No other nation has so successfully combined people of different races and nations within a single culture. ... Whether in flight from persecution or from poverty, the huddled masses have, with few exceptions welcomed American values, the American way of life and American opportunities. And America herself has bound them to her with powerful bonds of patriotism and pride."

Back to Goldberg:

Ultimately, it's not that liberals don't believe in American exceptionalism so much as they believe it is holding America back, which might explain why they're lashing out at the people who want to keep it exceptional. But that too is nothing new. "The Coolidge myth has been created by amazingly skillful propaganda," editorialized the Nation in 1924 about the unfathomable popularity of Calvin Coolidge. "The American people dearly love to be fooled."

Wow. We guess Americans were stupid in not appreciating liberalism back then also.

Again, what is wrong with greatness? What is wrong with having, collectively, one of the most liberal interpretations of free speech in the world? What is wrong with a firm belief in robust and transparent market economics? What is wrong with a healthy distrust of central authority? We suppose if you are fawning over China, these concepts would indeed be "lunatic".

Please remind us one more time just who the "extremists" are.


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