Top 10 Reasons America Is Exceptional
As the kerfuffle surrounding Oklahoma's sudden desire to de-thinkerize APUSH started making headlines this past week, NPR made a visit to the classroom of Christine Custred of Edmond, OK. The audio and transcript of the resulting piece is worth a listen and a read if you haven't already done so.
One of the central issues, of course, is the belief by some on the right that the new APUSH course outline doesn't sufficiently emphasize American Exceptionalism - the belief we are unique and awesome in ways others can only long for. Everyone wants to either be us or blow us up - either way, must be because we're awesome.
Custred managed one of my favorite understated rebuffs of this century when she slid in this bit:
In most places in the world, you'll be hauled off by some kind of Gestapo if you criticize the country and/or government, and that is exceptional that we can do that.
A few days later, still apparently fuming over state efforts to make our kids LESS prepared to function outside the Dollar General or local feed store, she posted this to her Facebook page. It is reprinted with permission here.
TOP TEN REASONS AMERICA IS EXCEPTIONAL
1. Separation of church and state. Our Founding Fathers ensured this for us. A cursory knowledge of history and current world governments (and the Puritans) enlightens us to why this us so very important.
2. The Zenger trial led the way for the 1st amendment which allows Americans to safely criticize their government.
3. As a result of our free speech, history teachers can teach all of American History (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Try doing that in North Korea. Wait, don't.
4. America educates all of its citizens. Simply AMAZING.
5. America has a very sad and tragic history with regard to civil rights and the mistreatment of ethnic and racial minorities. But because of our 1st amendment (again, thank you Founding Fathers) demonstrations and criticism led to significant changes. We still have gains to make on this front but we now have an African American president. Really think about that.
6. Students in America will learn about that sad and tragic history.
7. There is a shop that sells cupcakes across the street from my school. They haven't gone out of business. It seems crazy that someone would pay $4.00 for a cupcake. You go free market and the American Dream.
9. My daughters can go to school without fear of being shot in the face. They can achieve and aim for things that would never have been available to them 100 years ago or currently in many countries of the world. The same goes for your daughters.
10. An average girl from the great state of Minnesota, who was told by her high school counselor that a community college was her only option (remember that Thomas Legierski and Marie Legierski?) can become an advocate for education.
Feel free to share your lists as well, if you prefer. Personally, I'm having a hard time topping this one.