Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong, American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News-From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (2019) is a sobering sermon. The book makes a case for greater humility by the U.S. among nations and makes clear our knowledge and public acknowledgement of our national sins. The absence of a tradition of significant apology or reparations or reform for U.S. bad acts provides nothing helpful for mitigation of current bad acts or education for future avoidance of repeated wrongdoings.
The story is neither systematic nor comprehensive. It is not a people’s history in the tradition of H. Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (2015), but it is an angry assembly of examples of U.S. harmful actions in history. The book’s theme is that the U.S. is neither innocent of wrongdoing nor exceptional (just circumstantially different) among nations. The litany of bad U.S. acts, lacking apology, includes:
- World War II
- Cultural white supremacy
- Black poverty
- Imperialism of global military occupations
- Uneven speech protection
- Immigrant exclusion and discrimination
- Labor distortions
- Foreign aid abuse
- Vietnam War
- Human rights indifference
- Media distortions
- Military domination
The list is uneven and incomplete, but the theme of the continuity of U.S. immorality and the awareness of U.S. wrongdoing is made clear. For the authors, there is little left to support the U.S. innocence and nothing remaining of any exceptionalism in wisdom or morality.
The authors have debunked and discredited U.S. exceptionalism and innocence, which may be a hidden freedom for the future in an honest national understanding for the U.S. in the future of the world. They leave the reader with encouragement to imagine a world without nations, borders, or imperialisms. This book is a step toward world citizenship.
The book includes an index.
Quakers: There is no reference to Quakers in the book.
- Is the U.S. exceptional in some way other than the ways any nation is exceptional?
- Is the U.S. innocent and ignorant of its history and current reality in some way?
- Do U.S. Quakers endorse U.S. exceptionalism?
- Are U.S. Quakers innocent in some ways different from the innocence of other US. citizens?
Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong, American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News-From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (2019)