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2014-07-06

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July 9, 2014 - 9:58pm

Blogging Blue: American Exceptionalism 2.0

BY NURLAN ORUJLU

Copious amount of articles have been written about ‘American exceptionalism’, yet none of them clearly describes what it actually is. People think of it in a deeply philosophical way and find themselves lost in the ocean of ideas. To make it simple, I will try to examine this notion from a different perspective. It’s no secret that people from various parts of the world admire this country for many reasons, but sometimes these explanations turn out to be odd and might surprise the Americans. In my opinion, there are two oddly exceptional American attributes that make it attractive to everyone regardless of their religious belief, race, or even nationality:

Food!

Yes, you heard that right! I have seen people complaining too much about American fast food culture while decorating their criticism with biased justification. What these people fail to realize is that the American fast food brands have been one of the main reasons of growing admiration towards America in little kids’ hearts from across the world.

The first McDonald’s restaurant that was opened back in 1999 in the downtown area of my hometown is still considered one of the most prestigious places in the city when people go out to eat. Of course, it’s clearly known that McDonald’s stores serve better food overseas as they make a lot of profit in foreign market. However, it’s undeniable that the American food has found its way into other nations’ cuisine by perfectly transforming the traditional fare to fast food style servings.

Although you can’t underestimate the power of McDonaldization in our universe, I think it’s worth noting that American food also attracts foreigners because it incorporates numerous cultural cuisines in itself thanks to the long history of immigration.

Speaking of Immigration…

There is always a solid chance to meet that overconfident, super progressive European exchange student in high school or college who will proudly speak of loose immigration laws in European countries, such as Switzerland, Norway or Germany. He/she will probably criticize American lawmakers for creating problems to illegals in the United States.

Once you move on to discuss the situation of the legal immigrants, the ‘American exceptionalism’ will weaken his/her arguments. Immigrants in Europe face a lot of pressure from the locals due to their differences. Not many years ago, a Norwegian “knight” tried to save Europe from Muslim immigration. It’s something that you can’t see in Uncle Sam’s stronghold. After all, does Europe even have a Green Card Lottery? Here is the answer to my question.

Most non-Americans will always find it hard to use ‘Fahrenheit’ instead of ‘Celsius’, ‘Pound’ instead of ‘Kilogram’ or understand how the Electoral College System works. I can extend the list of grievances that wrongfully describes Americans as ignorant people. However, I don’t think we could have successfully reached the current age of civilization without the existence of “American exceptionalism.”

Nurlan Orujlu can be reached at norujlu@umich.edu.


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