The idea of American exceptionalism is not a new one. Thomas Jefferson spoke of civilizing the Indians many believed they were savages. Surely the Native Americans thought the white newcomers were the savages. The white men forced the Natives off of the “new” land and proceeded to murder them. The United States continues this tradition today, going into countries where we are not welcome, and trying to change them, make them more like us.
What I can gather from reading Wilfred McClay’s, The Founding Fathers, is that he believes America is what is because of our past. From the time the Europeans came to America to settle, we have believed we are superior. Mr. McClay states that we need to stay connected to past and learn from those who discovered our great Nation (McClay 2006). Following his writing was not easy, it did not seem quite clear. It seems as though he feels Americans place themselves on a pedestal, but that is why our country is so great. Americans justify their actions by making our own stories; we teach people what we want them to know, not what truly happened.
Howard Zinn does not feel Americans should insist on exceptionalism (Zinn 2005). The United States does not have the right to push its beliefs on the other nations of the world. He discusses the issues of American Superiority in his article, The Power and Glory. According to Mr. Zinn, there is a growing trend among Americans who refuse to accept that we are a superior people. A 2011 Gallup Poll confirms this statement. In 2002 approximately 60% of Americans believed our culture was superior to others (Pew Research Center 2011). In 2011 number dropped to 49% (Pew Research Center).
I agree with Howard Zinn in that Americans are not exceptional, we are from other people, just as each individual is different. Although many believe we are better because we have so much freedom, and we are the land of opportunity, we are not. We have...
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