The term American exceptionalism refers to the belief among many Americans that the superior institutions and democratic values have made the United States unique compared with the rest of the world …. This notion has been largely promoted by American scholars throughout our history, particularly those of the 20th century, who viewed the rise of American prominence on the world stage as a direct result of our institutional and democratic exceptionalism. Americans take great pride in their perceived achievement to maintain a place of power and prestige above the rest of the world. However, as the United States moves into the 21st century, questions have begun to arise over the nation’s ability to continue to maintain and project that “exceptional image” to both its own citizens and to the world. A case in point is the still ongoing Covid-19 crisis which has provided a significant challenge to American exceptionalism, as our nation has continued to demonstrate its “unexceptional” response to this pandemic crisis that has taken the lives of more than 1 million Americans.
The superior identity of the United States, as defined by its long-held perceived exceptionalism, is now in question because of this event (and subsequent others like the January 6th Insurrection) and this has great potential consequences to our nation’s history going forward. Does the United States need to re-evaluate the depth of its perceived exceptionalism ?
Please watch the following brief YouTube video from an interview on PBS that took place in May of 2020. It speaks to how our national concept of American exceptionalism may have adversely affected our nation’s response to the global Covid 19 crisis …
Now please read the following article from the New York Times that was published in April of 2020. It asks the very question in its title “Will a Pandemic Shatter the Perception of American Exceptionalism?” ….
Armed with the knowledge of these two sources of information and with your personal experience of living within this global crisis, please discuss the following question(s) ….
Question One: (Please answer ALL PARTS of the question)
In general, why does the history of the United States revere (hold in high regard) the notion of its own American Exceptionalism ?
Identify one specific benefit and one specific cost that this exceptional attitude leads to in our country.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic effected the perception of American Exceptionalism … ?
Does the United States need to maintain the perception of its own exceptionalism ?
Why does our understanding of this historical topic matter to us today ?
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