May 24, 2010

WHICH IS WHY CLOSED BORDERS ARE UNAMERICAN:

The long and short of American exceptionalism (Sol Sanders, 5/24/10, Washington Times)

American exceptionalism, as clever slogans are wont, metamorphosed over the decades. It has melded with the beliefs of religious reformers who originated some American Colonies, including the Pilgrims, Oona Anne Hathaway, William Penn and Lord George Baltimore. They saw themselves as precursors of a new social order. Their phraseology often borrowed from Judeo-Christian thought, specifically the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."

Later, the founders of the American republic believed they were creating a new civilization on the western shores of the Atlantic, distinct from Europes old evils. When asked by a passer-by the result of the secret conclave of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin, the grand old wizard of the American Revolution, told her, "We have created a republic, Madame, if you can keep it."

The latest to use the concept, if not the slogan itself, was Ronald Reagan, who in his 1989 farewell speech explained:

"I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still."

This theme divides the nations polity today as perhaps no other intellectual current. Much of the self-anointed, sophisticated "political class" denigrates the whole idea. President Obama, for example, recently said in France he believed in American exceptionalism only as a rationalization every nation-state has for the importance of its own credo. Many in his most loyal political base have long argued American exceptionalism camouflages rampant chauvinism, xenophobia, arbitrary use of power for self-interest — even opportunism and greed.


The Shining City isn't walled.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2010 5:37 AM
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