Conservatives love to talk about “American exceptionalism,” boasting that the United States of America is the greatest country on earth.
I agree that our country was founded on ground-breaking principles expressed so well in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, but I also recognize that the U.S. Constitution did not put into practice the core principle that all men are created equal.
I have not yet read The 1619 Project, but I heard an interview with its creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones on the PBS show “Throughline” in which she responded to the “exceptionalism” theme in a way that really resonated with me:
“We have an exceptional amount of income inequality. We are the only Western industrialized nation that does not guarantee health care for its citizens. We are the only Western industrialized nation that does not guarantee paid leave when you have a child. We have the stingiest social safety net of all of the countries [with which] we like to compare ourselves. We incarcerate more people than any country in the world. These are legacies of settler colonialism, and these are legacies of African slavery. And until we are honest about that upon which we are built, we will never become the country that we believe ourselves to be.”
Click here to listen to the full 50-minute interview.