Howard Zinn: The Myth of American Exceptionalism (2005)

by Howard Zinn
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
June 9, 2010
March 14, 2005

Howard Zinn

Image by via Flickr

Running Time: 1:32:02

Americans have long embraced a notion of superiority, claims Howard Zinn. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony described establishing “a city on a hill,” to serve the world as a beacon of liberty. So far, so good. But driving this sense of destiny, says Zinn, was an assumption of divine agency—“an association between what the government does and what God approves of.” And too frequently, continues Zinn, Americans have invoked God to expand “into someone else’s territory, occupying and dealing harshly with people who resist occupation.”




Updated: Sept. 26, 2013

Same video in 7 parts.

Howard Zinn – The Myth of American Exceptionalism 1/7

Peter Pan on Jul 4, 2011


Zinn offers numerous examples of how the American government has used “divine ordination” and rationales of spreading civilization and freedom to justify its most dastardly actions: the extermination of Native Americans and takeover of their land; the annexation of Texas and war with Mexico; war against the Philippines; U.S. involvement in coups in Latin America; bloody efforts to expand U.S. influence in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The battle against Communism, often bolstered by arguments of America’s divine mission in the world, was merely a convenient excuse to maintain U.S. economic and military interests in key regions.

Today, says Zinn, we have a president, who more than any before him, claims a special relationship with God. Zinn worries about an administration that deploys Christian zealotry to justify a war against terrorism, a war that in reality seems more about establishing a new beachhead in the oil-rich Middle East. He also sees great danger in Bush’s doctrines of unilateralism and pre-emptive war, which mark a great leap away from international standards of morality.

[Zinn begins at 6:15 minutes into the video.]








The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger by Chris Hedges

Immigrant-bashers occupy land stolen from Mexico (2006) + Robert Erickson: Here’s to the State of Arizona

Howard Zinn’s last advice to America – and to me by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Remembering Howard Zinn: Legacy + Personal Philosophy + World Today

Howard Zinn: Obama’s first 100 days and more (2009)

3 thoughts on “Howard Zinn: The Myth of American Exceptionalism (2005)

  1. Pingback: Howard Zinn: The Myth of American Exceptionalism – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Howard Zinn: The Myth of American Exceptionalism (2005; repost) | Dandelion Salad

  3. The belief in national exceptionalism is hardly unique to Americans. It is common in many countries and cultures. What makes American exceptionalism so dangerous is that it has a huge military and economic empire backing it up.

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