Jake LaRaus

Guest Blogger

Delusions of Grandeur: How American Exceptionalism is Killing Our Human Rights Record


Leave it to the oft-maligned thorn in the United States' side to eloquently pin down one of our country's greatest flaws. In his now infamous New York Times op-ed, Vladimir Putin closed out the Syria-focused piece by calling Americans out on our arguably engorged self-pride:

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

Say what you will about the rest of the Russian President's article, but this closing sentiment truly hits home.

It was obvious that Putin's op-ed hit a target when a torrent of fiery political indignation hit the internet. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told CNN that he, upon reading Putin's words, "almost wanted to vomit," while Senator John McCain (R-AZ) alleged that the "op-ed is an insult to the intelligence of every American." Forbes even made an embarrassingly weak attempt at rebutting Putin, claiming in an article the following day that America is exceptional because we are the number one destination for potential migrants worldwide. I guess I'm the first to learn that this is the barometer for being exceptional (read: sarcasm).

Priorities, Priorities... Why Won't the Networks #CoverClimate?

Imagine, if you will, that you've been asleep for the last month, closed off to the world and unaware of what had been transpiring around you. You wake up, groggy and disoriented, and try to find out what's gone on while you were incommunicado. You'd probably be better served asking some informed friends, but if you turn to the three major news networks - ABC, NBC, and CBS - you might be surprised. In a month that's been filled with climate change stories and cautionary tales about the worsening state of our environment, these three networks mentioned climate change just once combined. What really dominated the airwaves for the last month, brought up 138 times combined, was the ongoing saga of the royal baby. How could this be? How could something as shallowly insignificant (Apologies, George) as the royal baby so outpace a global issue like climate change? I believe it's two things: the continued legitimacy given to climate change deniers, and the developing nature of the television news industry.

The Future According to George

Getty Images

The world sat with baited breath, eyes glued to the long-developing situation that was finally showing signs of fruition. Hours, days, weeks of coverage had all boiled down to this one moment, this singularity of combined global attention. This was not just one person's moment, or one family's moment, or one country's moment; this was an event for all humanity.

The royal baby had arrived.

If the above hyperbole went unnoticed, then allow me to be clear: the arrival of the 8 lb, 6 oz immaculately-conceived George Alexander Louis is not an exemplar of truly important world news that should demand our attention. But due to the nature of our broadcast media and the sensationalism that we require from it, it was this week's biggest news story. Coverage of the birth of the illustrious infant was not limited to the gossip rags and tabloids; CNN, the Huffington Post, USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, NPR, the Washington Post all got caught up in Knocked Up: Royal Baby. It was a feeding frenzy of neonatal nomenclature and infantilizing information-gathering.

But while the journalistic flies swarm around the bouncing bundle of boyhood brilliance, there is one question we should be asking ourselves: what kind of world will the prodigal son grow up in?

The peal of Westminster Abbey's bells greets the newly-minted monarch, welcoming the official coronation of the United Kingdom's newest royal sovereign, King George VII, son of the former monarchs King William and Queen Katherine. Many likely still remember the fervor that surrounded the new king's birth in 2013, just fifty years ago. Of course, the world has changed much since then.