Monday, October 13, 2014
Unlike Any Other, Thankfully
Kevin Williamson, prompted by comments from actress Eva Longoria, muses about the Left's reflexive assumption that American Exceptionalism is a bad thing.
"The actress and Democratic activist Eva Longoria, who apparently has never heard of France, was ruthlessly mocked this week for her claim that the United States “is the only country that promotes monolingualism.” Both of the assumptions behind that statement are false: The United States does not promote monolingualism, and some other countries, and would-be countries such as Quebec, do. Ms. Longoria is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, where state standards at the time of her high-school education generally required two years of the same foreign language, and where neither the University of Texas nor Texas A&M, which Ms. Longoria attended, will admit students without two years of the same foreign language. Ms. Longoria currently is a resident of California, a state in which official business is conducted in more than 30 languages. As for other countries, suffice it to say that neither China nor Mexico is offering driver’s-license exams in Farsi. Spain has one language with national official status — guess which."
"So, another dopey celebrity heard from — who cares?
Ms. Longoria’s error is interesting to me because it is an example of anti-American Exceptionalism, i.e. the common belief among progressives that the United States is uniquely backward and knuckle-dragging in various critical ways."
"The entire American political model is based on codifying policies that were in effect practically nowhere else in the world in the late 18th century. The supposition that people could get along without a king or a state-run church or a national censor, that they could choose their own faiths, speak their own minds, print their own newspapers, carry their own guns, and choose their own leaders without oversight from a hereditary aristocracy — at the time of the American founding, those ideas were considered more or less bonkers in most of the civilized world.
That’s a real fault line between conservatives and progressives: The Right tends to see those policies and institutions unique to the United States as markers of our liberty and excellence, while the Left sees policies and institutions unique to the United States as indicators that we are simply a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder behind Finland. It’s American Exceptionalism vs. anti-American Exceptionalism, and the latter tendency is by no means limited to such lightly informed Democratic emissaries as Eva Longoria."