Exceptional – American Exceptionalism Takes Its Toll
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Exceptional – American Exceptionalism Takes Its Toll

American Exceptionalism permeates American culture. Most Americans were taught to believe in American superiority long before they were able to think for themselves. “America is the greatest country in the world” is an article of faith. Of course, it can’t be proved or even defined. What, indeed, is the measure of greatness for a country? Do genocide, slavery, racism, imperialism and endemic poverty count? If the United States is really the greatest country in the world, what does that say about the world?

In Exceptional: American Exceptionalism Takes Its Toll, William Boardman examines forms of American denial that shape a country where there is little integrity in public discourse, truth is optional and society is out of rational control.

The book is a selection of Boardman’s best articles since 2012, mostly first published online at Reader Supported News. Each piece is a snapshot in time, when the author was reacting to the moment, whether that was an act of voter suppression, the start of an aggressive war, the police killing of another unarmed black person, or the failed humanity of so many of America’s “leaders.” Whatever the horror of the moment, Boardman objects and lays out why official behavior is corrupt, wrong for the nation and worse for its people.

The articles, along with accompanying updates, appear chronologically in each of the book’s seven sections. These follow seven paths to parts of the crisis that now engulfs America:

  1. Voting vs. Elections. This is fundamental to everything else. There is an innate tension in our electoral system. There are those who believe in letting everyone vote. And there are those who prefer to game the system by legalizing gerrymandering (for example) to get the right election results.
  2. America Loses Altitude. America has been losing altitude for a long, long time. Boardman describes this decline as bi-partisan, but driven by the long march of right-wing ideologues since Goldwater/Nixon. The state of the nation is illustrated by the rise of the American police state and the reduction of the Supreme Court to little more than an integrity-free committee to defend the interests of the rich and powerful.
  3. Coming to America. This chronicles some of the ways a “nation of immigrants” has come to act as if it hates itself. It begins with maltreatment of Dreamers and children at the border in 2013-14. It covers the police-state terrorism of ICE. The section ends with Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, an articulate Democrat who should be celebrated as one of the first Muslim women in Congress, but who is instead subjected to bi-partisan calumny and death threats to which her party responds timorously.
  4. Black in America. It’s not easy. Some examples.
  5. America Saves The World. From Afghanistan around the world to Afghanistan still, American salvation comes at a steep price. The examples are Orwellian, “like a boot stomping on a human face – forever.” Yemen is the worst, perhaps.
  6. Radiation and Fossil Fools. The nuclear world is inherently dan¬gerous, expensive and profitable (for a few). So is the carbon world. Will enough leaders figure out how to exploit the future in time to preserve it in livable form?
  7. Impeachment is Easy, Removal is Hard. This is the Trump-centric section.

Early readers react to EXCEPTIONAL

"A notable peace campaigner writes a massive text on the flaws of our national self-deception, aka ‘American Exceptionalism,’ and how we can better understand what we need to know.”

Paul Buhle
Senior Lecturer (retired) at Brown University and
author or editor of 40 books, among them histories of radicalism
in the United States and the Caribbean

“Over the past seven years, William Boardman has turned his attention to America and its ‘exceptionalism,’ becoming, in the process, a first-rate political writer, with hundreds of articles to his credit – most of which have been published in Dissident Voice – articles that are well written, informative, properly sourced, and refreshingly fearless. Exceptional – American Exceptionalism Takes Its Toll provides a clear insight into American politics. Being very familiar with, and appreciative of, William’s writing, I highly recommend it to everyone.”

Angie Tibbs
Senior Editor, Dissident Voice

“As inventor and illustrator of whimsically useless products, I’ve made a side career capitalizing on my unclear thinking. Thus, I am in special need of William Boardman’s clear and penetrating understanding of US and world events. So badly skewed and shallow are news reports and blogs on these matters that Bill’s writing can seem ornery or contrarian when all he does is tell the truth!”

Steven M. Johnson
professional whimsicalist and cartoonist,
author of Vehicles of the Imagination and nine other books

“The Iran article in RSN is clear, thorough and direct. I wonder how you hold it all together with so much knowledge of the deep sickness of it all. Each article you write sends shivers in your forthright exposure of the facts and provides a kind of grounding and relief that there is an informed intelligence out there still.”

Rev. Emily Boardman

“Being Bill Boardman’s copy editor for the last five years has been educational in many realms: the art of writing, of thinking, of comedy (dark & light) and compassion (not an art but a quality of kindness that is almost always there). What a great job to have! He’s made me a better human being.”

Roberta Hill
Reader Supported News