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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/6/19

American Exceptionalism and American Innocence

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Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong have explored the albatross of myths, legends, lies and damn lies around America's neck in their book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. They look into America's closet of historical secrets and expose them. They knock down the stuff that is just made up. The authors explain why the US habitually denies its own bad behavior, and projects it onto others.

Over the centuries the US has developed an illusion of grandeur. It imagines itself as indispensable and exceptional, unlike any nation that has ever existed. Exceptionalism means not having to say you are sorry or pay for your mistakes. Being exceptional means you are the law. You are the policeman, the judge, the jury and the executioner.

To enforce its exceptionalism the US has built a mighty military. The price for its grandiose military has been the neglect of the American people. The US is addicted to militarism and violence. From its founding the US was a violent country. It used violence to acquire and occupy the land, and to gain independence from Great Britain. The US maintained that God was on its side, and it was innocence of any wrongdoing. The US just made it up that it was Manifest Destiny that it should become an empire. Americans saw themselves as being on a civilizing mission for God.

The Myth of Manifest Destiny

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Movies glorifying and romanticizing the westward expansion of the US were an early theme of motion pictures. One of the first silent movies was a Western produced in 1903: "The Great Train Robbery". Right from the beginning motion pictures created false narratives and myths.

Manifest Destiny was an expression of white supremacy. A 1915 silent move spectacle was The Birth of a Nation, which falsely recasts the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. It portrays the South as a victim, depicts blacks as depraved, and the Ku Klux Klan as a heroic white protector of America's virginity. After featuring the movie in the White House, President Woodrow Wilson said:

"It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true."

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Hollywood perpetuates America's spirit of exceptionalism, often in cahoots with the power elites of the ruling class. Up until the late 1960's Western movies were a regular theme, which was later adapted to television too. Movies, radio and television were revolutionary forms of entertainment, information, advertising, and propaganda in the 20th century.

When I was growing up in the 1950's playing "cowboys and Indians" was a favorite pastime for children. We reenacted what we saw in the movies. For example, watch the below movie trailer for "How the West Was Won", produced in 1963:

[How the West Was Won Fake History]

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The phrase Manifest Destiny was not coined until the mid-19th century. But the ideology had started with the colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people. As Sirvent and Haiphong explain:

"George Washington and his secretary of war Henry Knox wasted no time in laying the basis for Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny was an alteration to the colonial ideology that led to the formation of the American nation-state"..Manifest Destiny presupposed that American expansion from coast to coast was a matter of ordained fate justified by the Republic's superior civilization".

During the westward expansion the phrase Manifest Destiny came into vogue with the debate about whether or not to steal one-third of Mexico, while "taming" the West. Manifest Destiny won the debate.

The westward expansion of the US empire did not stop at the shore of the Pacific Ocean. It kept on going to Asia. The US became a colonial empire, and went knocking down the trade barriers of Japan, Korea and China. The US believed in "free trade", even if it had to be at the point of a gunboat.

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David William Pear is a Senior Editor for OpEdNews.com, and a Senior Contributing Editor for The Greanville Post. David is a journalist, columnist, and commentator for TV and radio. His articles, essays and interviews have an emphasis on (more...)
 

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I considered it a great honor to have Danny Haiphong ask me to review his new co-authored book.

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My comment is on this article when it was posted on informationclearing house. Info.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 6, 2019 at 3:39:17 PM

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For others here is your comment:

"I taught 3rd. 4th, and 6th grades for 25 years and held to what I knew to be true (with much admittedly false from my own brainwashing).

My reply is still awaiting approval.

Thanks Dan for reading and engaging in the conversation. We can always count on you.

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I got permanently banded from making comment on Frontline after they aired what I considered a very biased programs about a building explosion in Russia. I did a comparison with that explosion and WTC7.


After a day it was still waiting for moderator approval. I was having some Internet problems, so I sent it again. I believe the original message remained and the new one was not acknowledged. After some period of time I sent it again and got the message that I was permanently banned from making comments on Frontline.

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For some reason Information Clearing House never published my replies to commenters. Maybe they don't like the author responding in the conversation???

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I looked through my Disqus list of comments and most of them dealing with Iraq War criminals and 9/11 have been removed or are still pending 4 and 5 years later.

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Well done. I'm particularly interested, in the Hamilton chapter.

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well done, david.

my shortcut is

exceptionalism = tribalism

same dynamic as for Israel (or, earlier, nazi germany)

screw international law.

'international community' = US lackeys


>deaths of an estimated 20 million people.

that's why i can't dismiss the soviet union just because psychotic stalin rampaged for 20 yrs and killed 1m (?)

that was a betrayal of socialism, but socialism can't die. it's inevitable, just really hard to achieve, given the monster that must be slain.

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Dank ja well for what read. I grow weary of reading much (About how Solomon said the wring of many books wearies the soul.) but will rest latter. America does have a reason for being here, it just has gone to many peoples' heads, instead of being an example of how things are done right, for other countries to follow. Hope it gets back that soon. While am still walking planet would make all the pain worthwhile.

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Very well done, David, as usual. A significant turning point came about in 1945 when FDR's more evolved circular economic plans vis a vis the soon to be free former French and British colonies died with him. The subsequent presidential election was manipulated to install a sock puppet like Truman to begin the transformation of the US from an industrial power into the pure military state it is today. Stolen resources was a bonus I suppose - there are always jackals at a lion kill - but never a sine qua non to the evolution of MIC.

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"The US power elites hid their true economic motives in myths about freedom, democracy and human rights."

As they continue to do. Is it their lack of creative imagination or our lack of critical thinking that allows this lie to be the justification for the continuing plunder? As prescient thought leaders have pointed out, these selfish sociopaths will not stop with stealing from those outside our borders. They'll be coming for everything inside our borders as well. This is now unfolding as the shared wealth of our nation rapidly aggregates to the .1%, and the rest of us will soon find ourselves "living on the reservation", if we aren't already.

Great article as always, David! This book looks like a must-read.

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you got that right...see my long comment...if you have the time.LOL

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Always have time for you, Susan Lee.

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Ah, David... a wonderful essay as always.

I was born in 1941 and attended NYC public schools -- and in fact, was in Bernie Sander's history class.

It has been very difficult to shake off the myth. It was sold in the schools, and when t.v. became the ubiquitous window on the world, the narrative found its way into the images, and memes. It was sold to us.

But, I also grew up with an immigrant generation who escaped first from the Russian 'pogroms', and then the holocaust, so I grew up with that idea of this place-- where the law ruled, and human endeavors could accomplish wonders... albeit not for everyone.

I also studied humanities at Brooklyn College, (for $50 a semester) and as I prepared to become a teacher, I read just about everything that informs the past -- there is no denying the history. Humans will always seek power, and greed will always corrupt social order -- unless there is a genuine process for accountability and fairness.

No one is holding the mobster president accountable for his slaughter of the law. That he is ignorant, and shows utter contempt for people, shames us as a nation, but that is not what makes him so dangerous.

The Constitution is a document that offered that process, but it has been re-imagined by a power elite to serve their politics. (I read Gary Brumback's wonderful book. " LIFE'S TRIANGLES AND AMERICA'S POWER ELITE" where he talks about our history and the power elite, which did more that re-examine, our history, it turned around everything that I knew about our history, but finally, for me, made sense about how we got to this moment. I have to admit this really frightens me.)

At this moment, the Executive Office has rejected the Supreme Court's mandate, and looks to farther subvert the rule of law. It is time for a good hard look at all the obstruction that this mongrel has offered us as his governance.

On July 17, we finally hear from Mueller, but as Henry Olsen notes, " we are almost certain to learn nothing new from Mueller's testimony.' But, at least it will be laid out in front of the people, not by Fox News or the sycophant Barr, but by Adam Shiff and our freshmen Congresspeople..

It is an ongoing tale that often takes on the aspect of tragedy -- if we really examine what has been done to innocent, people at our borders, whose only crime was trying to escape poverty and crime --- who believed in the myth of America.

I taught kids to read and think over five decades, and we read the thoughts of great people, and we also looked at myths and stories, to show us how people behaved. Little Red Riding Hood had a real lesson for children about trusting strangers who lie.

Stories are all about behavior, and offer children more that. a history of conquest. Stories show the emerging human what society values, and hopefully, those behaviors that benefit any society -- like honesty and integrity. No society in human experience survived when they based their decisions on false information. Yeah, I read them Jonny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan in third grade, but we read, "The Yearling," "To Kill A Mockingbird," 'Grapes of Wrath," and "Animal Farm" in my 7th Grade, and we talked, talked, talked -- about what works and what does not. I didn't "teach" to a test.

What disturbs me the most, is listening to ordinary people display their ignorance at what is afoot on their stage at this moment. It is even more a tidal wave to an ignorant citizenry who have little information about the past, or a small capacity to analyze what they hear, and then to compare it to 'prior knowledge.' The schools cannot compete with the noise. Moreover, history and civics are disappearing from the curricula! Public education is under attack so that the norms for acceptable behaviors are eroded" the red line THAT SURROUNDS MENDACITY is crossed over and over, and never does someone stand up and say; "That was one line too many! Enough! "

More over, our citizens have become inured to LYING!! Words fly by too fast these days, and our citizenry is too busy just living; there is no time to think about meaning before the next tsunami of words drowns out rational thought. The hippocampus needs time to reflect! As I have explained endlessly, the public is being drowned in: 'Look-at-what-just-happened and "whaddabout this, and whaddabout that." The entertainment industry has accustomed us to hype, but it is quite another matter, when our citizens become accustomed to this level of mendacity" as when the president of the US lies over 10,000 times and uses social media to tweet disinformation. When the model at the top is free to alter reality with impunity"with no personal consequences, then the very idea of America is trashed.

Oops... as I write this it is thundering, and I must shut off the computer... a sign?

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"... there is no time to think about meaning before the next tsunami of words drowns out rational thought."

I often say that the only time our ruling elite doesn't lie to us is when they pause to think up the next batch of lies.

"... our citizenry is too busy just living ..."

How true! Which means that to get their attention, we must always frame our message in terms of their day-to-day struggle to survive. Talking value systems and ideologies, historical narratives and alternate analyses is a sure way to clear the room.

People for the most part know what they want. There's a lot more agreement on the fundamental priorities and values than we credit ourselves for. But as you point out so perfectly here, they lose focus when "the next tsunami of words drowns out rational thought." Because that tsunami is designed to do just that: overwhelm, muddle thinking, disinform, confuse.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 7, 2019 at 10:19:02 AM

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To all the comments above:

Thanks John, .... here is Truman according to his obituary in the NYT. It is the official textbook version:

"In war-ravaged Europe in those years, Truman and the United States established peace and held back Soviet expansion and built economic and political stability through the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

According to Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone in the Untold History of the US, Truman was a runt with bottle glass glasses as a kid, and constantly picked on by the other children. He decided to get even when he got some power.

Along with Kuznick/Stone book a must read is the People's History by Howard Zinn.

Yes, the people are indoctrinated but they are also willfully ignorant. They are happy with their mythology, and don't realize that they are falling behind. The information is out there. We did not give the German people the excuse of ignorance, nor should we give it to the US people.

We need to get over this fetish with the Constitution, which was a purposely badly flawed document. Most liberals/progressives have abandoned the poor, and turned a blind eye to wars. They are hypocrites for criticizing the 1% for abandoning them. They don't even know how far they have strayed to the far right of FDR. It is a lost cause until there is a significant number of the population that is radicalized.

There is nobody out there though that is going to save the US. If the people continue with their fantasies, they will continue to become an underdeveloped country.

It is all very depressing.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 6, 2019 at 11:29:53 PM

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#9/11 (#PrePlantedExplosives "used at the WTC") was used by W Bush to "perpetuate" the endless #WarOnTerror for the 21st Century, except of course "it wasn't the Iraqis", nor the Muslims, nor Bin Forgotten, nor any of the "7 countries in 5 years" (it was "a policy coup" - Army Gen Wesley Clark 'ret.').


911 Explosive Evidence Experts Speak Out Free 1 hour version AE911Truth org HD
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#FBI #Lawsuit - "failed" to report known 9/11 evidence to Congress.

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Great as always Lance.

What is most disturbing to me is that people can't see the obvious.

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Thank You Robert - yes, "disturbing to me" as well "that people can't see the obvious" - that three giant skyscrapers (#TwinTowers #Building7) all brought down on 9/11 with "preset explosives and precisely timed demolitions going off in all three towers" as "plain as day", "in broad daylight" - surely, that was "not the office fires or the two planes that brought the three towers down like the officials said". #PentagonAttack -#PrimaryInsideExplosives.

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Quote from your article: "The ruling class developed sophisticated propaganda to manufacture the consent of the public to US policies. American ideology and mythology are part of the soul of the nation. The public internalizes the ideology and mythology as part of their being. Many people become emotionally distraught when the US is criticized."

Most of us struggle with trying to enlighten our families and friends about the real crimes of our country.

As a kid in school I fell for the "America is the hero and savior of the world" narrative hook, line and sinker. Can't claim to any kind of discernment from back then.

I took the responsibility to re-educate myself as an adult and am still struggling to overcome my early "education". That's why I need to be kind to loved ones who have not yet dared to take the leap of faith to inform themselves about the truth. Since my family is white, we did not experience the crushing pain of being confronted with rejection because of skin color that many of our brothers and sisters have to deal with every day of their lives.

But both of my brothers had to join the military during the Vietnam invasion because it was the only way to get the "GI Bill" and go to college. That bloody option is not even available to poor people any more: taking the chance on getting killed or killing other humans (for no reason) just to get a chance to climb out of poverty. I was lucky to get my first two years of college cheap in the "junior college" in Chicago then available. It took me until I was 40 to finally get my bachelors degree by taking night school courses while working full time.

Back in the 70s I became a "radical" after reading "Labor's Untold Story" by Richard O. Boyer.

Anyhow, there are a few classics that have further radicalized me through the years and I have to give David William Pear credit for introducing me to some superb writers.

David mentions Howard Zinn in his own comment here and this book was introduced to me before I "met" David here on OpEdNews but I need to mention Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" that took me three months to read (the first time I read it) because it made me physically sick to see the crimes in print of the country from which all my basic education came.

Now I have made it my business to read each and every book recommended by David William Pear. Most recently I have been more deeply radicalized by the superb story written by James Bradley, "The Imperial Cruise" which explained to me how white supremacy became steeped into our country's culture.

It is my belief that this book that David now has presented to us will stand with these other classics to help people (like me) wake up from our blindness and complacency.

Sorry for the long harangue but sometimes we need to give each other tips and to remind others that even the ones (like me) who believed the lies for a long time, can be changed with the right information given and the right time (with compassion?).

It's looking pretty bleak right now for the human race but I only have to look how far I have come (with humility because there's still a long way to go) and realize that somebody can be hard headed defending their dogmas but there is always a chance to strike the right chord.

Thank you David William Pear for helping us to enlighten ourselves and (maybe) help enlighten others.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 7, 2019 at 8:15:36 AM

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David William Pear

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Reply to Brenda Schouten-Beckett:   New Content

Thank you Brenda for those kind words. You are a genuinely good sole. My awakening came late too. I was a Cold Warrior.

It is people like you that I write for, and that I was able to help you and others develop means that I am not writing in vain.

I do not expect the US to change during my lifetime. All I can do is keep putting straw on the camel's back. Eventually it will break.

The system of capitalism and imperialism is unsustainable. Some for of a cooperative system will replace it, if the human species is to survive.

James Bradley's book is a classic, too.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 7, 2019 at 4:24:00 PM

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