Radio and PBS host Tavis Smiley went on Meet the Press on Sunday to criticize President Obama and some Republicans for using American Exceptionalism as rationale to push for war with Syria, an effort that was upended when Obama couldn’t win public support for military intervention. Smiley also blamed Republicans with being fixated on shutting down the government and claimed that if they are not stopped, “we are going to lose our democracy.”
“I think not just for Republicans, I think that this country is facing a seminal moment where we have to make a decision about what kind of nation and what kind of people we’re going to be. The President recently, much to my chagrin, spoke of, advanced once again, this notion of American Exceptionalism, and clearly he isn’t the only one in town who likes to push that notion that we as Americans are exceptional,” said Smiley.
In a New York Times piece, Russian President Vladimir Putin also took issue with American Exceptionalism, writing, “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”
In a nationally televised speech, President Obama used American Exceptionalism to make the case for military intervention on Syria.
“America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong,” Obama said. “ But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.” He then added: “That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.”
Smiley then used recent events to prove that America is really not all that exceptional, at least not in the way we think.
“The reality is that this week alone gives us all the evidence we need to push back, to question that particular claim, “Smiley explained. He then pointed out the number of people referenced the Nay Yard shooting and how there’s not push for gun control, even after all those incidents.
“And it’s not just mental illness, that’s a real issue, but in North Carolina you’ve got this brother Jonathan Farrell, this black guy who’s running toward the police, asking for help and they shoot and they kill him,” concluded Smiley.