October 6, 2010

American Exceptionalism

As I continue to convalesce, I wander back and forth between tv, reading blogs, and reading Sarah Vowell's book on the Puritans. Oh, and typing with one arm in the Continuous Passive Motion machine.

But while reading her book, I was struck by her discussion about the early sense of divine exceptionalism, and the basis for that exceptionalism. Puritans found God's blessing in the disease outbreaks that devastated native populations. "God has blessed America" is rooted in seeing epidemics as God blessing the Europeans by killing the heathen.

When Sarah Palin invokes returning to some "traditional past" she isn't cheering the smallpox epidemics directly, of course, but the entire idea is premised in returning to a time when Euro-Americans were at the center of the universe.

2 comments:

Smitty said...

but the entire idea is premised in returning to a time when Euro-Americans were at the center of the universe.

I fear that's the real meaning of "take our country back." From whom? From the "others." Even though it's not gone - by and large, white dudes with money are running the show - what counts for them is that a black dude is Preznit, that we have a perceived illegal immigrant and Muslim "problem" and that libruls are responsible for just handing our country over to those "others" whom we (libruls) tolerate way too much.

Anonymous said...

Streak and Smitty,

I think that you both identify what is so troubling about those who people who want to "take back the Civil Rights movement." They argue that people of color have misappropriated the movement; demanded too much. Good, paternalistic white people really know what is best for people of color, who, influenced by emotion and not reason, are influenced by outside agitators and rabble-rousers. It is an incredibly demeaning, if not racist, public discourse.

-- CIL