Americans are a master race uniquely blessed with angelic DNA unblemished by original sin and ordained by the heavens to spread their benevolence to every nook and cranny of the world by exterminating Antichrists or otherwise. That characterizes the hubristic, sophomoric scribblings of Dick and Liz Cheney in their co-authorship of “Exceptional: Why The World Needs A Powerful America.”
The index unsurprisingly shows no entries for due process, checks and balances, separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, Magna Charta, the U.S. Constitution or any other earmark of a liberty-centered universe.
The book deserves dissection because the ahistorical views it expounds exemplify mainstream stupidity and amorality that is destroying the American Republic — “the last best hope of mankind,” according to Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 State of the Union message.
To support their benevolent master race theory, the Cheneys assert in their opening effusions “as a matter of empirical fact and undeniable history” that “[d]uring World War II, we became freedom’s defender…”
Is life that simple?
What about the 120,000 Japanese American citizens and residents we consigned to concentration camps without a crumb of evidence of sabotage and espionage followed by knowing lies to the United States Supreme Court necessary to sustain the constitutionality of our odious racism?
What about the black conscripts and enlistees like the Tuskegee Airmen who were directed to risk that last full measure of devotion for freedom abroad while living under the oppressive yolk of Jim Crow at home?
What about the anti-Semitic bigotry which denied Jews access to elite institutions, prompted President Roosevelt to dispatch Jewish refugees on the S.S. St. Louis to the extermination camps of Nazi Germany, and galvanized his support the for Great Britain’s curtailment of Jewish immigration to Palestine to curry favor with tyrannical Arab countries?
If we were the defender of freedom in World War II, why did we snugly ally with mass murderer and dictator, Joseph Stalin, and why did we support the forced repatriation of countless captured Soviet soldiers knowing they would either be killed or disappear into Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago?
If we were the defender of freedom, why did we apotheosize British Prime Minister Winston Churchill whose signature battle cry was, “I have not become the King’s First Minister to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”?
These observations do not dispute that the United States remained at the apex of free nations in World War II despite its monumental shortcomings. But that is damning by faint praise. Most of mankind is ruled by tyrannical or autocratic governments.
Contrary to the Cheneys’ postulate, the United States freedom ranking is not because our DNA is superior to the DNA of others. It is the same everywhere—warts and all–just as gravity operates the same everywhere. And DNA viscerally seeks gratification in domination for the sake of domination, money, sex, fame, and creature comforts—not liberty, justice, or freedom.
James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, understood that eternal wisdom. He elaborated in Federalist 51 that vices must be checked with counter-vices to secure justice: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote to the same effect: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
The Cheneys’ Panglossian belief in a uniquely angelic American DNA begets their alarming zeal for perpetual, global warfare or other interventions in a messianic quest to diminish the world’s misery index under the banner of freedom. (The term is never defined beyond the insinuation that the Cheneys know it when they see it.)
They unwittingly summon to their defense Daniel Webster’s 1825 remarks dedicating Bunker Hill Monument that teach the opposite of their global force and domination dogmas: “And now let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of the benefit which the example of our country has produced and is likely to produce on human freedom and human happiness.”
Webster was spot on. We were to influence events or developments abroad by example, not by cramming our view of paradise down the throats of other nations or other peoples. Thus, the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution had enormous influence on European politics without the assistance of a single American soldier or weapon. The shot heard round the world celebrated in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” was the example of our Republic and liberty-centered principles, not military capers abroad not in self-defense.
John Quincy Adams, who actually witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill with his mother from one of Braintree hills, discredits the Cheneys as conclusively as Copernicus discredited Ptolemy. The Cheneys predictably airbrushed him out of their ahistorical narrative.
John Quincy served as a member of the House of Representatives, United States Senate, Secretary of State, and President. He grew up at the feet of the gods of the American Revolution. He was present at the creation. No one is more qualified to articulate the philosophical precepts that gave birth to our nation.
Anticipating the hubris and stupidity of the Cheneys and their like that would bring self-ruination, John Quincy explained as Secretary of State:
“[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.”
Would the Cheneys have bugled for King George III or George Washington during the Revolutionary War?