David Rieff – Truckling to the National Myth (World Affairs Journal)

David Rieff. “Truckling to the National Myth,” World Affairs Journal, March 1, 2010.

"It is possible that the decision by conservative ideologues (exemplified by the recent essay by Richard Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru in last week’s National Review) to make a belief in American exceptionalism the litmus test of patriotism will finally make liberals think twice about their allegiance to it. Possible, but unlikely. What William Pfaff in his forthcoming book, The Irony of Manifest Destiny, calls Americans’ commitment to “a secular utopian idea of universal democracy” is, in fact, a commitment that unites liberals and conservatives, no matter how much each side indulges itself in what Freud called the “narcissism of small differences.” Admittedly, viewed from the perspective of the Washington think tank world, the difference between these stances is enormous, and liberal pundits can be relied upon to react with aggrieved outrage when they are described as having a great deal in common with their conservative opponents on the issues of America’s goodness, its exceptionalism, and the necessity of its leadership in the world, just as conservatives, as the Lowry and Ponnuru essay states explicitly, deny liberals believe in American exceptionalism at all."

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