Editor’s Note: This podcast was originally published by MintPress News.
The MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.
On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman fatally shot 22 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Police reportedly refused to confront the killer, locked him in a room full of children, physically prevented parents from getting involved, and even allegedly rescued their own children first.
The massacre has once again brought the United States’ unique obsession with firearms to the fore, with renewed calls to ban assault rifles. But even among gun-control advocates, few realize the connections between the Second Amendment and white supremacy.
Today’s guest is Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Originally from Oklahoma, Dunbar-Ortiz is a writer, historian and activist, possibly best known for her 2014 classic book, “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.” She argues that the context behind the Second Amendment is that the newly-independent United States needed “well-regulated militias” of white men to “kill Indians and take their land,” or to form slave patrols that would hunt down Black people fleeing their captivity. It was out of these slave patrols that the first police departments were formed.
Ultimately, she argues, the need for such armed militias arose from the fact that the white colonists were on recently stolen land, surrounded by hostile groups who were trying to get their land back. As she notes, it was a crime to give or sell a gun to a Native American.
An activist for over 50 years, Dunbar-Ortiz has argued that for any progress to be made, Americans must stop worshiping a 234-year-old document written by slaveholders. Today with Lowkey, she also discussed how it was that the National Rifle Association was taken over by reactionary political actors and how it came to be that the United States is a country with 4% of the world’s population but half of the world’s guns.
“The Constitution is so embedded in white supremacy that there is no way to amend it to change that. It is everywhere…This is so obvious if you just face what U.S. history is and not leave so much out,” she told Lowkey.
A revolutionary and a feminist, Dunbar-Ortiz’s life’s work has taken her across the world, including to Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua, where she documented the U.S.-sponsored Contra War against indigenous groups. She is Professor Emerita of Ethnic Studies at California State University, East Bay. Among her other notable books include, “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment”; “The Great Sioux Nation: Sitting in Judgment on America”; and “Not ‘a Nation of Immigrants’: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion.”
Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.
Record-breaking heat waves and economic hits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted governments in the United States and the United Kingdom to consider enacting a Green New Deal (GND). But how might these GNDs play out? Will they curb emissions? More importantly, will they curb emissions while upholding the principles of social justice and equity?
In May 2021, Leon Sealey-Huggins, assistant professor in the global sustainable development division at the University of Warwick, wrote a detailed critique of GNDs, including those adopted by the U.S. Democrats and the U.K. Conservatives. Titled, “‘Deal or No Deal?’ Exploring the Potential, Limits and Potential Limits of Green New Deals,” the report calls for closer scrutiny. “GNDs that fail to address the fundamental questions of power, ownership and control will also fail to adequately ameliorate the injustices of climate breakdown,” the report stated.
GNDs also fail to address the need for drastic emissions reductions.
“Zero by 2050 is a global average target, and to be compatible with the principles of equity and justice under the Paris Agreement, rich nations have a responsibility to reduce emissions much more quickly than this, reaching zero by around 2030,” Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist in Eswatini, the southern African country formerly known as Swaziland, told Toward Freedom. Hickel serves on the advisory board of the Green New Deal for Europe and on the Harvard-Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice. Hickel said GNDs need to include clear and explicit language on scaling down fossil fuels to zero, with binding annual targets.
“Right now, this language is totally absent,” he added.
Current Green New Deals Will Perpetuate Injustice
Max Ajl, an associated researcher with the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and the Environment, said Sealey-Huggins’ critique is spot on. Ajl explained GNDs aim at “recolonizing the Third World through monocrop tree plantations, converting the Third World into biofuel plantations and other coercive mechanisms, rather than figuring out ways to reconstruct the United States and the European Union, so they remain socially complex, modern and industrial, but become sustainable, egalitarian and non-imperialist societies.” (“Third World” originally referred to developing states that did not align with the United States nor with the former Soviet Union. In this context, it refers to countries in the global South.) Ajl also is author of the recent book, A People’s Green New Deal.
Others, too, have expressed similar fears about further colonialism via GNDs. For instance, in a op-ed for Al Jazeera, Myriam Douo, a steering group member of Equinox
Initiative For Racial Justice, writes that by employing corporate solutions for climate change, the “EU’s Green Deal will entrench further European neocolonial practices.” Douo notes demand for metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium has been driving labor abuses and environmental destruction. Such is the case in the cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in lithium mines of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
The transition to clean energy requires metals like cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, nickel and zinc for battery technology in electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines. A March 2021 report identified that about half the global supply of cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); over 80 percent of the global supply of lithium comes from Australia, Chile and Argentina; and 60 percent of the global supply of manganese comes from South Africa, China and Australia.
Between 2010 and 2020, a total of 276 allegations of human-rights abuses were identified in connection with companies that hold a majority-market share in clean energy minerals like cobalt, lithium and manganese, according to the Transition Minerals Tracker report released in February 2021.
Community impacts in the areas of health, violence and Indigenous rights constitute the biggest chunk of human-rights violations, while environmental impacts rank second. Pays to note that many of the countries that hold vast reserves of such minerals are already vulnerable—whether in terms of climate impacts or quality of human life in general.
Space for Improvement
Hickel noted that GNDs, as drafted, focus on emissions to the exclusion of resource use.
“We are overshooting a number of other planetary boundaries, which is being driven by excess resource use,” Hickel said. “Rich nations are overwhelmingly responsible for this problem, with per capita resource use vastly in excess of sustainable levels. The GNDs need to incorporate binding targets to reduce resource use.”
Ajl agreed. “The existing GNDs, including those from most progressives, are oriented to maintaining private control over the means of production, to ignoring climate debt, and to using materials-intensive technologies to solve what are often social more than technical problems,” Ajl said.
In the critique, Sealey-Huggins references versions of the GND Resolution, which the Biden administration might adopt. The resolution first was introduced in 2019 by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-OR), both a part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. It cites itself as the first comprehensive plan in the United States that aims to tackle the scale of the climate crisis by recognizing deep-rooted economic inequalities. In April 2021, they re-introduced the legislation after it failed to advance in the Senate in 2019.
The GND resolution aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers. More specifically, it calls for actions like overhauling the transportation system, supporting family farming and investing in sustainable farming and land-use practices that increase soil health and restoring natural ecosystems. Biden’s plan for clean energy and environmental justice references the GND as “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”
But according to Ajl, even the original GND legislation progressives are promoting has its share of problems because it doesn’t do enough to fundamentally transform the system.
Sealey-Huggins too pointed out GNDs in the United States and the United Kingdom show a preference for highly technical, emissions-focused policies. And that by doing so, fail to democratize ownership and control via tools like social organization, redistribution and repair. He went even further to criticize roles adopted by institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has conditioned aid on cuts to welfare services.
Sealey-Huggins suggests “reparative justice” as a path forward. That would involve global redistribution of power, wealth and resources; building grassroots power; and recognizing “shared goals” with movements led by the world’s Indigenous, African and oppressed peoples.
Rishika Pardikar is a freelance journalist in Bangalore, India.
With the United States’ Independence Day having passed, Toward Freedom is re-printing this analysis by Gerald Horne, which originally appeared in OrganizingUpgrade.com.
The good news is that Comrade Bob Wing’s analysis represents a step forward in terms of the U.S. Left’s understanding of the nation—“republic”—in which it struggles.
The bad news is that the U.S. left has not necessarily kept pace with the U.S. ruling class in terms of similar issues, or even with non-radical African-Americans, for that matter.
Consider the multi-part series on HBO Max (a member in good standing of the much reviled “corporate media”) that premiered recently, i.e. Black filmmaker Raoul Peck’s “Exterminate All the Brutes,” a sweeping analysis and condemnation of settler colonialism (a term curiously absent from ordinary discourse on the left) and white supremacy. His other credits include the superb docu-drama “The Young Karl Marx.”
Consider the 1619 Project of The New York Times, spearheaded by Black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, which—inter alia—had the audacity to suggest that a settlers’ revolt in 1776 led by slaveholders may have had something to do with maintaining slavery. Revealingly, the assault on this estimable initiative was mounted by self-described “socialists”, liberals and conservatives: in essence, The White Republic.
Consider the book by Black scholar Tyler Stovall (published by an Ivy League press), White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea, which is more advanced ideologically than comparable analyses on the U.S. left.
Consider the response to the concerted effort to deodorize the smelly roots of the vaunted “Founding Fathers”: I speak of the Broadway/Disney extravaganza, “Hamilton,” celebrated by the Cheneys and Obamas alike, not to mention some to their left—but skewered by paramount Black intellectual, Ishmael Reed.
How and why the U.S. left has tailed the ruling class on such a bedrock matter as conceptualizing white supremacy soars far beyond the confines of this brief response. Suffice it to say for now that misconception begins with the origins of the slaveholders’ republic in 1776, a creation myth that Comrade Wing does not challenge explicitly. Those who consider themselves to be sophisticated refer to an “Incomplete Revolution,” as if the founders had in mind “others” not defined as “white” but, perhaps, forgot to include them. This is akin to referring to implanting apartheid in 1948 as an “Incomplete Reform,” as if these founders, perhaps, forgot to include Africans in the bounty that was accorded to poorer Afrikaners. Even the supposedly perceptive term “bourgeois democracy” as a descriptor for 1776 and its fruits is misleading at best since “rights” definitely did not include any not defined as “white” and, thus, this term becomes part of the massive misdirection that now has us on the brink of fascism.
Settler Colonialism and the Construction of Whiteness
First, consider the confluence of settler colonialism and the construction of “whiteness.” When settlers arrived in what is now North Carolina in the 1580s it was a multi-class venture—shopkeepers, smiths, etc.—sponsored by the London elite. This was in the midst of religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. Catholic Spain, which came within a whisker of toppling the London monarchy in 1588, imposed religion as a qualifier for settlement. England, the scrappy Protestant underdog, moved toward Pan-Europeanism—or “whiteness”—incorporating Scots and Irish and Welsh in the first instance, those with whom they had been warring for centuries, and then moved toward incorporating others who had been warring: British v. German; German v. Pole; Pole v. Russian; Serb v. Croat—the list is long. All of a sudden when crossing the Atlantic, in a manner that would make Madison Avenue blush, all are rebranded as “white,” which subsumes many of the tensions, ethnic and class among them, in a new monetized and militarized “identity politics” of “whiteness” based on expropriation of the Indigenous and mass enslavement of the Africans.
As the 17th century roots of Maryland suggest, London was willing to sponsor Catholic settlers, while inquisitorial Madrid continued to bar and expel those not deemed to be religiously correct. Thus, from the inception in the early 1500s, Havana contained African conquistadors who professed Catholicism (a sharp divergence from racialized settlements in the “Anglo-sphere”, leaving a legacy which continues to wrongfoot those seeking to comprehend socialist Cuba) and as late as 200 years ago, settler Stephen F. Austin professed a nominal Catholicism in order to engage in his land grab in Mexican Texas.
Of course, Ottoman—and heavily Islamic–Turkey was an igniting factor in this process. Their seizure of what is now Istanbul in 1453 impelled an existential crisis in Western European Christendom: as Columbus headed westward in 1492, on behalf of Catholics he was seeking to circumvent the Ottomans; 1492 also marks the accelerated weakening of Islamic rule in Iberia, followed by many fleeing to North Africa and to Ottoman jurisdiction, along with the Jewish minority.
Tellingly, London had expelled its own Jewish minority circa 1290-1291 but in the contestation with Catholics, this Protestant power embraced this minority—as did Protestant Holland—and the victorious republicans did so too by 1776. The philosophically idealistic and credulous tried to convince the rest of us that this was a result of “Enlightenment,” as opposed to seeking to broaden the base of settler colonialism in order to confront obstreperous Africans and the mighty Indigenous.
Interestingly, in the late 1930s, the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo also embraced a fleeing European Jewish minority and only the naïve would ascribe this decision to “Enlightenment”—as opposed to a crude attempt to “whiten” the population in the ongoing conflict with the bête noire that was neighboring Haiti, whose nationals were simultaneously being massacred along the border.
Speaking of neighbors, it is similarly informative that patriotic U.S. analysts of the left generally refuse to scrutinize the “control group” due north. Canada did not rebel against London and yet now has a health care system that is the envy of the so-called “revolutionary republic”—should not one expect the opposite?
Actually, settlers’ revolts—be they in Southern Rhodesia in 1965 or Algeria in the late 1950s—are generally problematic, especially when driven by white supremacy and/or religious bigotry. To the “credit” of the North American settlers’ revolt, unlike their French counterparts in Algiers, they were not as advanced in seeking to liquidate the monarch himself, as was the case in Paris in April 1961 with Charles de Gaulle in the crosshairs. (For the naïve who continue to guzzle the Kool-Aid and propaganda of “liberal democracy,” on the 50th anniversary of this plot, French military men threatened a coup against President Macron, just as the elite U.S. publication Foreign Affairs reported a disturbing trend of the military bucking civilian rule: see also 6 January 2021 and the recent open letter signed by dozens of retired military brass in the U.S. echoing MAGA talking points and warning ominously against the purported “socialism” of the current regime in Washington.)
Given the troubling roots of this republic, it was inevitable that at a certain point what are described as “cultural” issues—immigration; reproductive and LGBTTQ rights—would leap to the fore as these are perceived as natal matters essential to an apartheid state: maintaining a presumed “white” majority.
Left-Wing White Nationalism
This transition from religion to “race” was occurring in the context of a bumpy transition from feudalism to capitalism. “Bloody Mary,” the English monarch in the mid-16th century, received her moniker as a result of reports of Catholics burning Protestants at the stake. Unsurprisingly, as capitalism attained liftoff as a direct result of the plunder of the Indigenous and the mass enslavement of the Africans, by the end of the 19th century, Africans were being immolated (in enslaved form representing the essence of capitalism)—with either Catholics or Protestants of European descent, often of British origin (at times jointly) lighting the torch.
The attempt to build “class unity” without confronting these underlying tensions often has meant coercing oppressed nationalities—Blacks in the first place—to co-sign a kind of “left wing white nationalism,” as reflected in the lengthy attempt to convert slaveholder, Thomas Jefferson, into a unifying symbol. Black failure to do so leads to our denunciation—in today’s terms as “identitarian” [sic], in previous decades, as “narrow nationalist.” Actually, the class collaboration embodied in “whiteness” was seeking to impose “class collaboration” on the descendants of the enslaved, inducing us to align with enslavers and their descendants. And given that pre-1865 U.S. history—and to a degree the era thereafter—involved deputizing Euro-American settlers as a class to patrol and coerce the Indigenous and the Africans, this too involved an often undetected class collaboration. It also involved often lush material incentives for those settlers who complied and harsh disincentives for those who did not.
In sum, unlike Raoul Peck, the U.S. left parachuted into the 20th century and sought to impose an ersatz “class unity” brutally at odds with historical reality. They were akin to cineastes entering the theatre halfway through the film, while thinking they had a firm grasp of the plot. Indeed, Peck’s work and that of other Blacks represents an attempt to wrest the powerful searchlight of Marxism away from those who have strived to convert it into a feeble flashlight.
When reality does not correspond to the facts on the ground, the U.S. left often responds like the fictional French intellectual who maunders: “I know what you are saying is true in fact, the question is—‘is it true in theory?’” That is, a detailed knowledge of history and contemporary trends is the meat to be placed on the skeleton that is theory—without that meat one is left with a putrefying cadaver.
Thus, when Euro-Americans vote across class lines for faux billionaires, we are instructed that the reason is that the opposition did not meet their exacting progressive standards—hence, they voted for the right. (Once when I was explaining to a prominent left-leaning scribe that the citadel of the elite, the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and the citadel of the Euro-American working and middle classes, Staten Island, are the bastions of the right wing in Gotham, he demurred seeking to point out that the latter borough voted thusly because of liberal failings: and, yes, he had never heard of John Marchi, Staten Island’s decades long proto-fascist GOP boss, re-elected repeatedly.) Of course, this miscomprehension begs the question as to why descendants of the enslaved even in the same borough and nationwide – marinated in the ultimate class struggle of slaves versus slaveholder – vote against the right wing in extraordinarily high numbers.
This misanalysis also neatly elides the instructive 1991 gubernatorial election in Louisiana when well over half of Euro-Americans across class lines voted for a Nazi and Klansman, David Duke, for governor—who would have prevailed but for the staggering blow delivered to his onrushing campaign by the mailed fist that was the Black vote.
Forge Alliances Beyond U.S. Borders
African Americans in particular sliced neatly the Gordian knot of oppression historically by forging alliances beyond the confines of settler colonialism, with ties to the Indigenous (e.g. antebellum Florida) or Haiti (post-1804) or London (1776-1865) or Tokyo (pre-1945) or Moscow (post-1917) or independent Africa and the Caribbean (post-1960).
What does this mean for today? It means rejecting the new Cold War against Russians and Chinese and, instead, forging alliances with both. It means linking demands for reparations nationally with like-minded struggles in the Caribbean and Africa. It means realizing that the uncanny ability of some on the U.S. left to hand rhetorical weapons to the right to bash the oppressed—from “political correctness” to “cancel culture”—is hardly a coincidence or accident but simply another expression of a “cross-class alliance” that has propped up settler colonialism from its inception. (Truth be told, these weapons were honed principally by “white” leftists in internecine conflicts that led—objectively and unsurprisingly—to a dearth of questioning of the legitimacy of settler colonialism.) It also means forcing class initiatives as a solvent against the pestilence that is white supremacy—for example, the PRO law or right to organize unions, now before Congress.
Per Comrade Wing, it also means seeking to deepen our understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. imperialism, white supremacy not least. Congratulations to Comrade Wing for seeking to rescue virtually every sector of the “radical” U.S. left from a swamp of Right Opportunism.
Editor’s Note: The author offers their perspective on American Exceptionalism in this essay.
In a chapter he wrote titled “Exceptionalism,”1 historian Daniel T. Rodgers argues American Exceptionalism is a historically contrived myth. The book in which the chapter appears is Imagined Histories: American Historians Interpret the Past (1998, edited by Anthony Molho and Gordon S. Wood). Rodgers discusses the origins and evolution of the historicism that undergirds the embedded structural creed that says the United States stands alone as inimitable among nations. Historicism is the theory that history determines social and cultural phenomena.
Within U.S. social movements, American Exceptionalism increasingly has been used to explain the ideology that guides U.S. interventions around the world and against domestic colonized populations, such as African and Indigenous peoples. This essay seeks to examine the roots of this ideological framework.
Historian Frederick Jackson Turner first struck an exceptionalist chord in his 1893 essay, “The Frontier in American History,” with his “perennial rebirth” or “rebaptized as an American”2 theme that proclaimed a singular “American” character. This came about by rejecting the European ethos and replacing it with a unique pioneering spirit exclusive to the “American.” Within was a detailed examination of the dialectical shifts of American historiography, philosophy and religion that pulsed through the “American” experience: From the earliest origins of the pious fundamentalism of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the American Revolution, World War II, the Cold War and its current role as a global hegemonic superpower, Rodgers demystifies and untangles the “skein of tropes”3 that underpin the “newness” and “distinctiveness” that defines United States’ historical, social and political “uniqueness.”4 Rodgers ignites his chapter with a question: Is the United States different? Then, through the use of scholarly and authoritative evidence, he methodically proceeds to lay bare the mythological foundations that buttress the United States’ fabled white-supremacist history, analyzing and exposing an unexceptional exceptionalism at its core, for all to see. Yet, in spite of his and other scholars’ well researched conclusions, Rodgers ends his chapter by exposing the persistent and entrenched depths of the American exceptionalist archetype, writing, “Michael McGerr and Michael Kammen demonstrate [that within modern American historicism] challenges to the exceptionalist paradigm [still] generate sharp, visceral reactions.”5
Rodgers, unswayed by post-1950s acculturation, looks back through time critically scouring the metahistorical chronicle in search of the decisive epochs that contributed most to the phenomenon called American “exceptionalism.” His contribution is considered a seminal work in contemporary and post-exceptionalist historiography. Literary critic and academic Donald Pease writes, “Daniel T. Rodgers, perhaps the most articulate of a growing cadre of post-exceptionalist U.S. historians, has formulated the rationale for this collective endeavor with eminent clarity.”6 Rodgers proclaims the United States’ build-up and victory in WWII, its rise to global supremacy and its dominance throughout the Cold War are central to decoding the portent of American Exceptionalism.
Contemporary scholars concur. “I agree that World War II set up an important phase in the history of American exceptionalism,”7 states Ian Tyrell. Rodgers and his post- exceptionalist colleagues (through primary and secondary source material) expose past and present historiography by turning it on its head. Laurence Veysey points out, “It is clear that earlier interpretations of American history and culture, aggressively put forth as recently as the 1950s and emphasizing ‘uniquely’ American experiences and habits of mind, served largely to mislead us.”8 Eric Rauchway pushes even further by stating, “The concept of American exceptionalism does not really have anything to do with actual history,”9 meaning that, in-depth analysis of the historical record reveals quite a different story.
Rodgers points to another specious characteristic of exceptionalist historicism. That being the claim that providential intervention and the United States’ cultural preeminence are guided, if not driven, by God, which defines the nation’s “difference.” Rodgers explains, “…difference in American national culture has meant ‘better’: The superiority of the American way.”10 He argues how unexceptional the United States is in this regard. “Pride and providentialism are too widely spread to imagine them American peculiarities.”11 According to Rodgers, the dissemination of American Exceptionalism, in the mid-20th century, was undergirded by a political, philosophical and psychological propaganda campaign: A deep rivalry with the former USSR that led the United States to co-opt and invert a Stalinist neologism of the 1920s (i.e., Soviet “exceptionalism”) and plant it firmly and inextricably, in its “divine” and rightful place: The United States of America! Yet, he queries even further: “What was the historiographical past of that conceit?”12
Rodgers traces the historiography back to an 18th-century travel writer, J. Hector St. John de Crévecoeur, who first described the Europeans [i.e., white males] inhabiting North America as unique and distinctive. Crévecoeur posed an essentialist question, “What is an American?”13 Rodgers demonstrates Crévecoeur was, “virtually unread in the United States before the twentieth century [his] lyric passage on … [the] ‘melting’ of persons of all [European] nations into ‘a new race of men’ [was] extracted from context … which now seemed to appear everywhere.” That was co-opted and retitled, “What Is the American, This New Man?” by “Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., [U.S. historian who] made it the motif of his presidential address to the American Historical Association in 1942.”14 Rodgers asserts, “The literature of the new American Studies movement [from then on] was saturated with Crévecoeur references.”15 He continues, “They led off that catalyst of revisionist histories … [including] Robert E. Brown’s Middle-Class Democracy and the Revolution in Massachusetts, in 1955.”16 The United States was considered from that point on, in and out of the academy, a uniquely singular phenomenon in world history.
Rodgers exposes an irony. “…In their anti-Marxism, they reimagined Marx’s general laws of historical motion applied everywhere but to their own national case.”17 Meaning, “John Winthrop’s ‘city upon a hill’ … was no longer a mid-Atlantic hope … it was now America itself.”18
Until the most recent shockwaves of the U.S. empire felt externally, and internally, in the forms of a 20-year-long Afghan debacle, endless wars for profit, brutal domestic police abuse (which disproportionately kills people of color), a permanent war on the poor and a healthcare system that ruthlessly places profits above life, the American Exceptionalism myth woven throughout U.S. history was fixed. But now, the mask has fallen for all the world to see.
Stephen Joseph Scott is an essayist associated with The University of Edinburgh’s School of History. He is a singer/songwriter, humanist/activist, a self-taught musician and performer. As a musician, Scott uses American Roots Music to illustrate the U.S. social and political landscape. His latest video is “We Know They Lied.”
1 Daniel T. Rodgers, “Exceptionalism,” in Imagined Histories: American Historians Interpret the Past, ed. Anthony Molho and Gordon S. Wood (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1998), 21–40. 2 Ibid., 25. 3 Ibid., 22. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid., 35. 6 Donald Pease, “American Studies after American Exceptionalism?” in Globalizing American Studies (University of Chicago Press, 2010), at https://chicago-universitypressscholarship- com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/view/10.7208/chicago/9780226185088.001.0001/upso-9780226185064-chapter-2 7 Ian Tyrrell and Eric Rauchway, “The Debate Table: Eric Rauchway and Ian Tyrrell Discuss American Exceptionalism,” Modern American History 1 (2018): 247–256. 8 Laurence Veysey, “The Autonomy of American History Reconsidered,” American Quarterly 31, no. 4 (1979): 455. 9 Tyrrell and Rauchway, “Debate Table.” 10 Rodgers, “Exceptionalism,” 22. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid., 21. 13 Ibid., 37. 14 Ibid., 27. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid. 17 Ibid., 29. 18 Ibid., 27.