The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Stop with the superiority complex

Stephen Rehagen | Sunday, September 22, 2013

I never thought I’d see the day when I would defend Vladamir Putin, but here it goes. In his recent treatise on exceptionalism (“American exceptionalism,” Sept. 19), Steven Begakis takes Mr. Putin to task for, of all things, noting that countries shouldn’t see themselves as exceptional and that (gasp) God created us all equal. What annoys me most about Mr. Begakis’ column (other than the misspelling of “its”) is that it supposes that since we have overcome such tremendous struggles and created a Constitution and then forced our democratic views on others, we’re inherently the best.
Here’s what Begakis, Republicans and Democrats all don’t understand that Putin actually does: We’re indoctrinating people. I mean, it’s totalitarian in a cult-like way. When you’re a kid, you read a textbook about how everything we’ve done is great. We had all these problems with slavery and women’s rights and Indians and Manifest Destiny and the list goes on and on. But we made it through these struggles because we’re the best. And now stand and sing the Star-Spangled Banner and weep tears of patriotism with me while saluting our beautiful flag. God bless America (sarcasm).
Yes, I enjoy living in the U.S. I am glad that our almighty government has granted me the freedoms it has and has not violated many of my civil liberties other than all of the ones the NSA has violated. And I would rather live here than in any other country. But the indoctrination, the notion that we’re somehow morally and intellectually superior, has to stop. I don’t love America. In fact, I don’t think I could ever love a political institution, and I’m quite proud of that fact. I want a government that lets me as an individual do what I want and to hold whatever values I want. I don’t want people telling me the U.S. is better just because we’ve been a republic longer and have bigger guns than those other guys. Because let’s face it, guys: We’re not perfect. There are people dying in the streets, there are still race problems, everyone disagrees on gay marriage, we’re about a gazillion dollars in debt and we rush into unnecessary wars. And if we’re so imperfect already, I don’t see why we feel the need to make the rest of the world as screwed up as we are.

Stephen Rehagen
Knott Hall
Sept. 19