Two faces of American exceptionalism

We look east to China (Goldberg at the Atlantic):

It was during this part of the conversation, when the subject of China, and its frightened reaction to the Arab Spring, came up, that [Clinton] took an almost-Reaganesque turn, calling into question not just Beijing’s dismal human rights record, but the future of the Chinese regime itself. The Obama Administration has been ratcheting-up the rhetoric on China’s human rights record lately, especially since the arrest of the dissident Ai Weiwei, but Secretary Clinton, in our interview, went much further, questioning the long-term viability of the one-party system. After she referred to China’s human rights record as “deplorable” (itself a ratcheting-up of the rhetoric), I noted that the Chinese government seemed scared of the Arab rising. To which she responded: “Well, they are. They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it. But they’re going to hold it off as long as possible.”

And they look back at us (NY Times):

 HONG KONG — The state news agency in China, the official voice of the government, has called for the United States to quickly adopt stricter gun controls in the aftermath of the shooting rampage in Connecticut that left 28 people dead, including 20 schoolchildren….

“Their blood and tears demand no delay for U.S. gun control,” said the news agency, Xinhua, which listed a series of shootings this year in the United States.

“However, this time, the public feels somewhat tired and helpless,” the commentary said. “The past six months have seen enough shooting rampages in the United States.”….

Dr. Ding Xueliang, a sociologist at the University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong, speaking about the Chinese tragedy on Friday, told CNN that “the huge difference between this case and the U.S. is not the suspect, nor the situation, but the simple fact he did not have an effective weapon.

“In terms of the U.S., there’s much easier availability of killing instruments — rifles, machine guns, explosives — than in nearly every other developed country.”

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One Response to Two faces of American exceptionalism

  1. Dan Platt says:

    American exceptionalism really has two faces of its own. On one is the exaltation of the ideals we hold most dear, which we consider to be exceptional. This should be at no expense to anyone else. But the other kind of exceptionalism, the belief that the US has the “exceptional” right to impose its “exceptional” values upon others, it what earns the ire of other nations. In turn, it leaves us with angry editorials about how we choose to run our country as a response to Americans’ own arrogant claims about others.

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