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Blog Post 9/29

In The Myth of American Exceptionalism Stephen Walsh explains how the strong nationalism in the US leads to us lying to ourselves about the importance of the United States.  As Americans, we generally view the United States as by far the most important country in the world.  He uses five different points to prove how American Exceptionalism is really just a myth.  First Walsh says that American Exceptionalism is actually nothing special, and uses the British and other colonial powers, to try and show that American Exceptionalism is no different.  However, I believe this not to be true, he claims that we are just “They are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song” yet, the other examples that Walsh uses didn’t have the same global connectivity that we have today.  The United States is the world’s only true superpower, and there are certain duties only a superpower has.  

Walsh also says that there is another myth that the United States is responsible for most of the good in the world.  I definitely agree with Walsh in that the United States is not responsible for most of the good in the world.  However, Walsh uses dismantling Nazi Germany as one of the examples of American Exceptionalism.  He states, “For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler’s war machine was borne by the Soviet Union.”  Yet, the United States did have a very big role in defeating Nazi Germany.  Yes it is true that the fighting happened in Europe, but the Lend Lease Program was very important in helping the British stop the Nazis advances in Western Europe.


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  1. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    Yes, I do agree with you that the US played a role in defeating the Nazis and that the US is one of the worlds super powers right now, but I cannot help but wonder does this truly make the US exceptional? I think we have all been taught from a young age that America is special and I believe that but I also think that every country can be looked at and said it is special. I think Welsh is trying to get us to take a step back and look at the US not as exceptional, but instead as just another country. I dont know if you agree with this, but I think it is a good exercise to do.

  2. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I found “The Myth of American Exceptionalism” to be very interesting and enlightening. Growing up, I was taught in middle school that America has been and still is a beacon of hope for people all across the world. After reading the article and going in depth about different American exceptionalism and reasons why the United States has actually made a bad impact on the world, I realize that the United States really isn’t the best place in the world. If the United States has been doing these bad things (slavery, war, imperialism) basically since the start, then were we ever “good”?

  3. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    There are definitely good things that have come from the United States. However, I feel that we give ourselves way more credit than we deserve. If we want to hype ourselves up on all the “great” things we have done, it is equally important to highlight the bad things we have done.

  4. Carly Cohen Carly Cohen

    I totally agree that Americans believe America is the greatest country in the world and the end all be all. However, I would be very interested to know who actually has done research and can say with complete certainty we are “better” than other countries.

  5. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    I agree with you and Walsh. I’m sure that the US played a role in defeating the Nazis, but the way history is taught completely discredits all the other countries who played a part. WW2 is one of the most taught subjects in schools; if you ask any high school child right now, they can give you a detailed synopsis. Now try to ask them about colonialism? or the trail of tears? or bay of bigs? America hates admitting its mistakes, and that’s the whole issue.

  6. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    I personally really resonated with the points Walsh made on American exceptionalism. My whole life, I have been repeatedly and uncondtionally told that America is the greatest country in the world. As a child, this was all I knew, and the idea seemed so common and obvious in our society that I believed it without question. However, as I learn more about the United States and how we compare to other countries in terms of health care, social justice issues, and equality, it becomes more and more obvious to me that perhaps we are not really so great have we have always believed. There are absolutely remarkable and significant aspects to the United States and our successes, but we would gain important perspective and be more easily able to improve our society by more readily seeing and owning our mistakes.

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