Regular readers will know that my e-pal, 'DM' (a.k.a. 'Dearieme'), suffers almost terminal grumpiness if anyone mentions 'American exceptionalism' and only a dram or three will calm him down! I must admit it has a similar effect on me because, of course, every country in the world claims to be exceptional and, logically-speaking, they are all quite correct. Even so, this notion of 'American exceptionalism' has become an idée fixe in the minds of many otherwise sensible Americans and so I was delighted to read over at The American Interest an essay on the subject by an historian called Walter A. McDougall - presumably of Scottish ancestry which will please 'DM' even more!
He explains in fascinating detail the origins of this myth which, if not in the detail then in the general evolution, closely resembles all those other myths which so many different nations cling to with such fervour. Perhaps the juiciest irony - which I just know will provide 'DM' with as much warm pleasure as it does me - is the fact that the main propogandists of this idea of 'American exceptionalism' were the Roman Catholic Church and the early Communist Party of America. That almost makes me want to whinny with pleasure!
I should add, before my other regular contributor, JK, rides out of the 'Arkie' hills with his Winchester.44 by his side, that my appreciation of Mr. McDougall's forensic dissection of this myth does not diminish in the slightest my admiration and liking for all ... most ... nearly most things American. The fact that he was able to demolish such a cherished idea without let or hindrance says much about the real America as opposed to the mythical America.