American Exceptionalism, American Innocence
by Maximilian C. Forte - ZeroAnthropology
May 12, 2019
Review of American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News—from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. By Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong. Foreword by Ajamu Baraka. Afterword by Glen Ford. 256 pages. Published: April 2, 2019. New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN: 9781510742369. Hardcover, $24.99 US; e-Book, $16.99 US.
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We live in a time which sees the US accelerating its accumulation of conflict worldwide: a trade war with China; sanctions and tariffs on “friends” and “enemies” alike; international treaties torn apart; international law dismissed and violated on an almost daily basis; escalating tensions and provocations that almost seem designed with the premeditated intent of precipitating war with Iran, or Venezuela, or North Korea; a new Cold War with Russia; an enhanced embargo against Cuba; and an ongoing, seemingly permanent occupation in Afghanistan.
Yet, in the midst of that, American leaders react with apparent protest at any consequences or responses—others are blamed for the apparent crime of responding to threats and aggression. How does one bring both of these facets—aggression and victimhood—together into one explanation?
As the US expanded and then inserted itself into the domestic affairs of nations in almost every corner of the planet, what role did the ideology of “American exceptionalism” play? How is “American exceptionalism” constructed, learned, and experienced? How are Americans both exceptional and “innocent”? What are the relationships between American exceptionalism, innocence, and racism and class domination? How is “humanitarian intervention” shaped by American exceptionalism and innocence? How do celebrities, Hollywood, the major news media, and sporting events help to cement American exceptionalism? Do “progressive” social movements of the American left depart from exceptionalism? How relevant is American exceptionalism to debates about immigration and borders? What are the solutions to the problem of American exceptionalism? Should the world be a world without America?
These are some of the questions that are resolutely tackled in a newly released book, which is the subject of this review.