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Merritt suggests you would understandably tire of your brash “neighbor,” avoid eye contact, and withhold social invites, much as America’s “global neighbors are running the other way.” But not all of America’s metaphorical neighbors have played avoidance. Depending on their needs, many have been saved, and some have been ultimately grateful for supposedly arrogant American Exceptionalism.
Jews in Nazi camps welcomed the sounds of American tanks. Tortured Filipinos welcomed General Douglas MacArthur’s grandiose fulfillment of his promise to return. Occupied Japanese were relieved by his benevolent rule that transitioned them from fascism to democracy. Besieged West Berliners heard with gladness the roar of American supply aircraft. Thousands of Vietnamese boat people, fleeing their Communist “liberators,” escaped storm and pirates for the sanctuary American naval ships. Under assault by several Arab neighbors, Israelis breathed with relief during President Nixon’s emergency arms airlift in 1973. Starving Ethiopians and North Koreans, victims of Marxist economics, were nourished by American food. Soviet and East European refuseniks tapped the words of the Declaration of Independence in their prison cells. Kuwaitis and ultimately Iraqis were rescue from rape and mutilation by Saddam thanks to U.S. armed forces. Millions of Africans are preserved from near certain death thanks to U.S. drugs for AIDS and other disease.
Guilt-ridden, self-doubting, nations lacking a sense of majestic destiny do not typically liberate millions from genocide, hold at bay across decades vast tyrannical empires, routinely feed and rescue millions, create global economic and political architecture providing sustained economic growth and relative security for billions, or absorb the contempt of their critics with hardly a complaint.
Merritt asserts that American Exceptionalism ignores God as the giver of unmerited blessings and instead claims deserved “favored status” with the Almighty, “breeding arrogance and triumphalism.” But what he deems triumphalism has been for millions across the decades and around the world a source of liberation and life. No nation can perfectly calibrate its self-image into perfect moral harmony. But Divine Providence, by His grace, has deployed America, for all its many faults, as a force for unprecedented good around the world.
Shaped by our Puritan forebears, there probably have been few nations as obsessively reflective of its sins as America, while simultaneously audacious and sweeping in its soaring designs for the betterment of humanity. American Exceptionalism deserves a more reflective analysis beyond the simplistic calumny of “arrogance.” And July 4 deserves vigorous celebration uninterrupted by the Religious Left’s armchair angst.
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