The battle over the College Board’s AP U.S. History framework brought it home to me just how distressing the concept of American exceptionalism now is for the increasingly globalist American left. When I challenged the College Board’s transnationalism and argued that American exceptionalism needs to remain front and center in any proper treatment of our history, liberals objected. And when the College Board floated a bogus fix for the problem by merely inserting the phrase “American exceptionalism” in its framework, while changing little else, the left went nuts.
So imagine my surprise to see the front-page top-of-the-fold “News Analysis” story in today’s New York Times explaining, and implicitly defending, the decision by the Times to publish leaked intelligence material from the Manchester bombing. The headline of the web-based version of this story is: “Leaks: A Uniquely American Way of Annoying the Authorities.” Here’s the crucial passage: “To sum up what distinguishes the United States in a nutshell: It’s the First Amendment…The concept of a free press has been integral to the American idea since its inception. That’s not true even of other democracies.”
Hmm. So how exactly did this uniquely American emphasis on liberty come about? How is it sustained? Can we teach about it? Can we be proud of it? Or should we pretend it doesn’t exist until we need it? And about how long will that work?