American exceptionalism — the idea that the United States is unique among all other nations — gets a bad rap nowadays. Ever since we elected a sentient wig to the White House (where else would such a feat be possible?), people have been whining that we should stop pretending to be unique, especially as far as love of hate-filled demagogues is concerned.
The thing is, America is exceptional. As a Thanksgiving treat for you all, I have gone ahead and gathered the evidence. Check it out:
Americans are free from maternity leave
To be an American is to be free. So if an American woman would like win at life by working two jobs with a wailing infant strapped to her chest — especially if she happens to be poor — we recognize her inalienable right to do so.
Other countries not only tell women what to do, they also tell men what to do, by having gender-neutral parental leave — which amazes me. What’s the point of being a man if you’re going to get stuck back home with a baby, changing diapers, heating up formula and/or frozen breast milk, and observing your soul rot and wilt away to the soothing sounds of a white noise machine, all for weeks and weeks at a time? You’re right, there is none. As if the war on men wasn’t bad enough — with all of this talk about how you can’t just rape your colleagues or how you shouldn’t run for Senate if you’re a well-known mall pervert — now there is a war on the very definition of manhood, and it’s headed to our shores.
Most importantly, by not punishing our women for having babies unless they have at least one sugar daddy waiting in the wings to pay their bills for a reasonable period of time, we will be betraying the very principles that this country was founded on. Not a single working mother had her signature on the Declaration of Independence, and there are reasons for that.
The main reason is — working mothers are kind of gross. They have bags under their eyes and their boobs tend to leak and they don’t make a great case for being part of society. The fact that they weren’t smart enough to attach themselves to a member of our thriving oligarchy prior to having a child kind of says everything about their basic level of intelligence and worth. Does all of that sound weird to you? Like I said — exceptionalism means “unique,” and “unique” can be a synonym of “weird,” so don’t get in my face about it.
Americans are free to offer themselves as blood sacrifices to the NRA gods
Religion is a tricky question, because there is no accounting for the diversity of people’s beliefs. Lots of people worship the Christian God, for example, but their beliefs and traditions of worship can vary.
And that’s just within one faith. Consider the fact that some of us are more interested in worshipping heavenly UFOs, or forging a closer bond to the Earth by being a Gaia-worshipping anarchist nudist type.
Being an exceptional country, however, means the United States has forged bravely ahead in embracing all kinds of niche religions — and today it even allows public blood sacrifice to the gods of the National Rifle Association.
People keep criticizing the NRA, decrying the way in which their insidious death grip on our political system means that the government refuses to be proactive on horrific mass shootings/the staggering overall rate of gun violence and pointing out its general extremism — but have you noticed that these are the same people who keep arguing for “diversity” and “tolerance”?
What could be more tolerant than branding the NRA an official religion and accommodating its time-honored rituals of promoting the use of one’s arsenal in order to spiritually cleanse the nation by mowing down bitch ex-wives and random people going to a concert?
That’s right nothing. No other nation can compete with us on that one.
Americans are free to die preventable deaths from lack of decent health care
In what other rich, developed nation would this happen?
— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) November 22, 2017
If you guessed, “Trick question! This is another great example of American exceptionalism at work!” then you win a gold star and a peck on the cheek from a bald eagle. Just make sure he doesn’t give you avian flu, because, well, you know.
Americans are free to end the world
The whole point of exceptionalism is being different from the rest of the world — and we are so different that we might as well just get rid of the world as a concept.
While the rest of the countries embrace the Paris Climate Accord like a bunch of mindless lemmings (yes, even the mass-murdering regime in Syria is now on board), for example, America says, “Screw that.” Sure, many of us are, by now, well aware that climate change has an impact and that impact can be deadly. But what if “deadly” is just another word for “the right to exercise one’s freedom of choice?”
A great people have an entire laundry list of freedoms to exercise, and one of them is the freedom to turn the only habitat we’ve ever known into a rancid pressure cooker. No one says you have to like it in order to recognize the other option — i.e., not turning it into a rancid pressure cooker — as fundamentally restrictive and therefore un-American.
Same goes for North Korea. Some people might have reservations about an emotionally unbalanced reality TV show host bombing Pyongyang and setting off nuclear war. The question we need to ask is this: Does he have the unique freedom to do that? Irrespective of whether or not it has made you wake up in a cold sweat for the second month in a row?
That’s the beauty of America’s special path. Russia may be trying to take us down, and other nations may try to break our stride by being the “adults in the room,” but when it comes to all things — even the thing known as “opportunity to trigger a man-made apocalypse” — we remain in a league of our own.
I don’t know about you, but that’s what I’m thankful for as I take time off from preparing a Thanksgiving feast to sneak a few more cans into the fallout shelter.
Photo: Brett Neilson/Creative Commons