In Walt’s article, “The myth of American exceptionalism,” I found it very interesting to see the way we view our country versus the truth based on the idea of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is what allows us to believe that our values, political system and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. Walt tells us that this is in fact, mostly a myth. It is interesting to me that we have such a confident view that we are the greatest and best at everything, which history clearly shows we are not. Not to say we are an awful country – we aren’t, and have definitely accomplished a lot, but we definitely are not as great as we believe. Out of the five myths, the one that stuck out to me most was the fourth: the United States is responsible for most good in the world. Walt says in this section, “Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive.” This quote to me, was the most important line in the article. I feel like it gave the overarching theme of what he was trying to say, because most other myths could fall into this category. For example, myth number 3 says, America’s success is due to its special genius. First of all, Walt explains that it’s not, it sometimes is purely luck. And second, this myth is based on the assumption that they are always successful, which is not true. This then proves Walt’s point about how America doesn’t take credit for anything in history that has been counterproductive.
This plays into Zinn’s chapter, “The empire and the people,” because of how the US went to Cuba only for their own benefit. Zinn discusses that before William McKinley being elected as president, he had said, “we want a foreign marker for our surplus products” (299). Going into Cuba was really only so that America could benefit off of a new market. They didn’t care about their freedom or really helping Cubans rebel at all. Zinn tells us this is what he believes when he says, “American merchants did not need colonies or wars of conquest if they could just have free access to markets” (301). Zinn gives us the name “open door” for the free access to markets. America really only wanted to ensure an open door between them and Cuba, which allowed for better economy. This part of Zinn’s chapter ties back to the myths of American exceptionalism because this is America going in as if they’re doing something helpful for Cuba, when really the intentions were to help themselves.