American Exceptionalism

February 27, 2015

When asked whether he believes in America exceptionalism, President Obama responded, yes, just like the Brits and Greeks do about themselves.  Demonstrably, Mr. Obama misunderstands the historical and religious origins of this exceptionalist concept. For it is not a self-serving, ego-centric, arrogant construct rooted in a delusional sense of superiority.

American exceptionalism’s moral and spiritual essence can be attributed to the Puritans, our early 17th century settlers. When the Puritans came to the New World – as they envisioned the American continent – they analogized themselves to the Children of Israel of the Old Testament: they fled oppression; took a perilous journey across a vast sea; and arrived in the Promised Land.

In 1630, John Winthrop, the founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, stated it simply, in substance, that we will be viewed as the city on the hill and we will be judged by the Almighty with respect to how we live our lives. So, this concept of American exceptionalism is a moral and spiritual belief system: We are a moral people. We try to institutionalize virtue. We recognize that evil exists, must be confronted and defeated. That is who we are. That is where we came from. It’s in our moral and spiritual DNA.

Today, parts of the world are devolving into nihilistic, inhumane outrages. The Middle East and parts of Africa are witnessing Islamo-fascist terrorist-inflicted genocide, rape, and kidnapping. The leading sponsor of these outrages is the despotic theocracy of Iran, which is in the process of developing a nuclear arsenal. Seven United Nations resolutions have stated that Iran must not engage in any process to develop nuclear weapons, meaning a blanket prohibition aimed directly at preventing the enrichment of uranium and any other nuclear weapon material.

Presently, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are negotiating with the Iranians trying to broker a deal regarding their nuclear weapons program. These negotiations are shrouded in secrecy. Letters have been exchanged between President Obama and Iran’s leadership. This is the very same leadership that is fomenting chaos in Syria, sponsors proxy terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen, while engaging in talks with Mr. Obama.

Why is he so desperate to make a deal with Iran, which is committed to the destruction of Israel while it seeks an evil hegemony in its region? Why does Mr. Obama not heed the caution of our significant ally Israel that a bad deal with Iran is much worse than no deal at all? Why does Mr. Obama disrespect Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by refusing to meet with him when he speaks before a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015? In so doing, why does Mr. Obama not respect the Constitutional “separation of powers” doctrine that allows Congress to invite whom it pleases to address our Legislative branch of government?

Would it offend common sense to suggest that if the proposed deal with Iran were so favorable both to our cause and the world’s that Iran be prevented from having nuclear weapons, that the White House would keep us, Americans, advised of the essence of the proposed deal? Also, if this deal were so promising, wouldn’t the White House welcome Mr. Netanyahu not only to speak to our Congress, but also be privy to the deal’s particulars? Certainly, his input would be worthy of consideration given the perilous proximity Israel exists in relation to the despotic threatening theocracy.

Mr. Obama, the time has come for you to recognize that political power without virtue is tyranny. America has long been committed “to supporting free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” (noteworthy as the Truman Doctrine). We should never tempt the tyrants with a show of weakness. Too often evil views civility as a sign of weakness.

We need to be proud of our heritage and remind the oppressors that generations of Americans have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. We must heed the command of Isaiah: “…let the oppressed go free.”

Free peoples around the world are yearning for America to exert its moral strength and military force in this struggle against tyranny, inhumanity, and genocide. If we flinch in the face of this ubiquitous terrorist threat, then we will be dismissed for engaging in moral cowardice.

Our value system embedded in American exceptionalism has compelled us to reach out to protect the vulnerable and the defenseless. Early in our history, young Americans fought and defeated the world’s greatest army at Yorktown. Again, a century and decades later, young Americans defeated the Nazi Wehrmacht, and, at the same time, the Imperial Japanese army in the Pacific theatre of operations in such places like Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

In World War II, it is estimated that over 50 million people were killed. Among the millions of casualties, it is estimated that the Nazis exterminated 1.5 million Jewish children. The memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is gut-wrenching. When we became aware of Anne Frank’s story, freedom loving people were convulsed in sorrow that so many suffered unspeakable atrocities. In our hearts we wept and were anguished.

Lest we forget, Never Again, we said, Never Again!

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert K. Tanenbaum