The Sordid Underbelly of Exceptionalism

“Standing on the soldiers of giants leaves me cold.” — Michael Stype

The Texas Legislature and the governor infamously outlawed the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. We’ve commented about this earlier, so there is little need to continue beating on this drum forever, but there is a corollary benefit to the teaching of exceptionalism in the classroom.

For those of us that have been in the classroom for years, we already know the truth. The teaching of American exceptionalism has been going on for as long as we can remember. The bill to stop the teaching of critical race theory is not about stopping it. It’s about not letting it start. However, the thoughts really don’t end with preventing talk of racism. That’s only the start of this whole thing.

It’s a subtle thought process that permeates our politics. A lot of it involves “bothsidesism” that has infested political discourse for some time now. The idea is that we really shouldn’t involve ourselves with picking sides because both parties are corrupt and ineffectual. That’s how populists get a hold of the masses. They convince you that they alone can solve every problem, because no one else is capable of doing it.

The exceptionalism plays into this in a ruthless way. The founding fathers were great men. They were almost perfect in their virtue and their intellect. They were the smartest men that ever lived and were honest to a fault. Their solutions were genius and no one could ever duplicate what they were able to do.

See, that’s the whole deal. If we create the illusion that those men were superhuman then no one could ever match up. Solutions to the problems of our day are out of our grasp. At least, those in government are incapable of doing it. Therefore, we should stop trying. We should leave it up to big business to  solve our problems.

Most of us know not a lick of this is true. First, the founding fathers were men just like all men. Yes, they were smart, but they had their own foibles. They had their own disagreements. They had their fair share of scandal. They overcame all that and still came up with something. Yet, even that doesn’t go far enough. We know that what they came up wasn’t perfect either. In the world of exceptionalism that’s the whole ballgame.

When we acknowledge the obvious flaws with those that came before we also acknowledge that flawed people can solve today’s problems. When we acknowledge the disagreements the framers had we can acknowledge that opponents today can overcome those same disagreements. People are people and always have been. That’s the secret they really don’t want you know.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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