The Epistemic Closure Yawn

Jonathan Chait, referencing a Washington Post article, is accusing conservatives of epistemic closure in their treatment of Obama’s comments on American Exceptionalism.  Please.

First of all, the description of of American Exceptionalism as “the idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world’s other nations” is wrong.  It would better be described as “the idea that America has certain unique qualities (particularly cultural) that have produced the most free and wealthy nation in human history.”  It’s not “inherent” in the sense of an immutable birthright like an aristocrat’s title always passing down the family line.  In fact, what concerns conservatives is precisely because it is not “inherent” it can be lost, and that the left’s policies are likely to destroy it.

Also, Jonathan’s claim that Obama’s comments are a “nuanced defense” of American Exceptionalism doesn’t hold up.  Saying a few nice things about America continuing to be a leader in the world does not count as a defense of American Exceptionalism.  When the president feels the need to qualify the statement “I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world” with the fact that it “does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas” he’s not making a defense of American Exceptionalism, nuanced or otherwise.

One Response

  1. [...] up on my previous note about the alleged epistemic closure on the right, I have a simple observation to make.  The left [...]

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