Telling The Truth About The United States Is Hard

Prometheus Unbound

What makes the United States the greatest country in the world?

I dunno. Yosemite?


I like the above video’s puncturing of American exceptionalism. I especially like the Yosemite line, but when the piano starts to play, and the patriotic nostalgia begins again («We used to be the greatest country,…»), I grow displeased. The fog starts to drop. We’re back in the realm of the mixed bag, of some true things mixed with some bullshit things. How hard it is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, even for three minutes.

But here’s what’s true. The United States really has been a beacon of liberty in a very dark world for over two centuries. By fits and starts, it has moved toward the light (even as so many other countries have moved toward darkness).

The light is the Anglo-French Enlightenment. It is the intellectual source of…

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