“America was, is, and—we pray—will continue to be the place where more than anyplace else, dreams
actually do come true”
—William J. Bennett
The key phrase to notice in William Bennett’s statement is “more than anyplace else.” In recent years, a number of well-meaning patriots have taken up the theme of what is called American exceptionalism. This is in part a reaction to those among us who managed to get onto the Lord High Executioner’s “little list” a century or so before they were even born—I refer of course to the “idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and every country but his own.” Blame America First is a reflex action on the left, and it appears that some have grown really tired of it and think that Praise America First is a good alternative. But when we simply react to one dumb thing, it more often than not results in just another dumb thing.
Sometimes the sentiment is comparatively restrained, as with Bennett, and sometimes it isn’t. Giving a new meaning to the phrase “taking the cake,” David Gelernter recently wrote a book describing Americanism as “the fourth great western religion”:
“America” is one of the most beautiful religious conceptions mankind...