A friend of mine recently linked me to a Youtube clip from sometime in 2010, of Fox News criticising the Obama Administration’s decision to release an account of US human rights violations. This video (regardless of how old) is a perfect example of America’s perceived exceptionalism and the fallacies utilised to defend it.
America’s perceived exceptionalism has been a constant thorn in my side for many years. Due to America’s overwhelming dominance of the international media, almost everyone worldwide has been exposed to it. However it is not something I have ever quite understood. Sure, America has been the dominant superpower for much of living memory, but one does not become great merely for standing on the shoulders of legends or being the heir to their legacy. No other country or people in the world even comes close to this blatant narcissism. However Americans, fueled by their politicians, ability to borrow, and media, cling to the claim that they are the modern day chosen people. Despite not inventing democracy and sporting one of the worst functioning examples of democracy, they profess to be the champions of it. Despite a questionable war record and finances to support it (if any war record can be considered unquestionable) they fashion themselves to be the worlds police force. Despite having obvious biases both toward domestic and religious interests, they perceive their role to be negotiators in chief for the worlds myriad problems (notably Israel/Palestine). Despite declining to sign on/ratifying any treaties which would allow Americans to be prosecuted etc. internationally, they push other countries to do so. Despite having some of the highest rates of drug related incarceration and the Republicans recent efforts to legislate the bible, they still profess the mantra “home of the free”. And finally, despite a rapidly declining social mobility ranking, they still cling on to the idea that something like an “American dream” is yearned for around the world. What American’s are truly exceptional at is hypocrisy, selective blindness and a bloated sense of self worth and importance (this is of course a massive generalisation based upon the way prominent American’s act in the media. I know many American’s, and I know full well they are not all like this).
The video above shows Megyn Kelly utilising at least two logical fallacies in her defense of America’s exceptionalism. These being “special pleading” and “relativist fallacy“. A “special pleading” fallacy is committed when a person applies principles, standards, rules etc. to others while exempting themselves (without providing adequate justification for the exemption). A relativist fallacy is committed when a person rejects an assertion by claiming the assertion might be true for others but is not for him/her/them (without providing reasonable proof). Furthermore there are quite possibly a plethora of other fallacies which Megyn Kelly utilised in this short clip which do not immediately spring to mind, for example Kelly’s attacks on Cameroon simply because they were chosen to pass judgement on America’s actions.
Prominent Americans, especially those in the media, need to wake up and realise that America’s time as absolute oligarch is fast waning. And for America to fully settle into the new world they need to start living up to the standards they set for the rest of us, as well as toning down the self involved rhetoric. Especially unsubstantiated rhetoric completely devoid of fact and reason, and based entirely on logical fallacies. This is no longer a world where one can simply profess greatness and expect to only be heard by like minded people. The world is truly global now.