Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Exceptionally Unacceptable: Wonderful article by H.D.S. Greenway in the October 21, 2008 edition of The Globe entitled "The Grand Illusion of American Power." He refers to BU educator, historian, military man and conservative, Andrew Bacevich, who now takes exception to the prevailing myth in American culture of American exceptionalism. Even Sarah Palin, perhaps albeit coached, still talks about American exceptionalism. She, of course, unequivocally believes in it and so do her followers.

I have long had a tug of war with my own conscience as to whether I do. Howard Zinn, historian and eminent professor at Boston University, in the late 60's, first introduced me to the concept of American exceptionalism and its folly when I listened to lectures by him in the late 1960's critical of US policy in Vietnam and elsewhere. His influence never left me. I was shocked at that time that American government policy could even be questioned. I assumed the US was always right in everything it did domestically and, most especially, internationally. I believed it was, indeed, exceptional. Professor Zinn , however, encouraged me, to possess an omnipresent doubt NOT of our country's values but of government policy which carries out its own interpretation of those values.

Vietnam, in that era, was the first time I conscientiously asked if our government was doing the right and moral thing. Since then other policies in many other areas of the world including the present day bombing of Iraq I deem not only questionable but immoral. My stint at Boston University at that time began my sojourn which prompted me to question government and speak my truth to power. The United States of America has done much good in the world that, I believe, cannot be denied but its government policy has often fallen short. When the heretofore exceptional becomes unacceptable it is time to reevaluate it and change course.