Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Lebanon- Another case of American Exceptionalism?
I am uncomfortable with exceptionalism. American exceptionalism specifically. I am horrified by the idea (that permeates the Bush Administration) that Americans are God's "chosen people." I am perplexed by the notion that aquired wealth signifies some sort of superior identity. Especially given that most acquired wealth comes at a pretty significant price. In the case of the United States, most of our wealth implies a sub par identity at best--one that we shouldn't be proud of.

Perhaps this discomfort with exceptionalism is what unnerved me last night watching NBC news. The broadcast interviewed some of the American citizens trying to leave Lebanon. The Americans were mad that they were just now leaving...mad that they were being "treated worse than animals." One pissed off woman in particular had lived in Lebanon for over 10 years--choosing to move there after a marriage. Another was a missionary (presumably bringing the christian message to all those heathen muslims) who was now being called to get the hell out of dodge. At first I agreed..."get these women home. what is our government doing? why is it taking so long?!" But then "wait a minute. why do these people get a free pass? these are americans who chose to go lebanon. why should we leave all the Lebanese citizens there to be *treated like animals*? how is that fair? only americans deserve to be helped? only americans deserve to be protected from the (american supported) Israeli military? "

I'm not sure where I come down...yes, American citizens deserve to be protected by the American government. They do have a certain amount of privilege awarded to them just by being American. However, why should tax money go to rescuing only Americans? Why shouldn't the government be engaged in diplomacy to save the entire region instead of sending a cruise ship to save the Americans?

Perhaps these feelings are a result of my anger over the lack of diplomacy. Perhaps these feelings are unreasonable. Drew told me so last night. He reminded me of the students, the peace activists, the people who are over there doing things that I would support that deserve to escape the conflict. I agree. *sigh* Who knows....


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