Lawmakers in Oklahoma recently joined officials in Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Nebraska, Tennessee and elsewhere in trying to prohibit high schools in their states from adopting the new American history Advanced Placement exams. These critics charge that the latest version of the College Board’s test teaches a “revisionist” view of the American past, one from which, in the words of Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, “every trace of American exceptionalism has been scrubbed.” Few making this argument, however, seem to realize the peculiar origins of the phrase “American exceptionalism” or the idea’s troublesome implications for the study of history.The concept at the heart of this controversy — American exceptionalism — at first glance possesses no clear meaning. All nations, after all, are unique. Each has its own currency, constitution, founding figures, flag and anthem. But as used by its … [Read more...] about Op-Ed: How exactly is America exceptional?
Alexis de tocqueville
THE WORD liberalism is ambiguous. To some it evokes the generosity of the state; to others it suggests a surrender to the free market. Supporters see it as a way to guard free expression; critics consider it a means to allow noxious ideas. But this is hardly new: throughout its history, the term has meant different things to different people. Helena Rosenblatt, a historian of political thought at the City University of New York, has peered into its origins and evolution in her book, “The Lost History of Liberalism”. The concept flourished in France in the early 1800s to describe the emergence of individual rights, the rule of law and representative government. Only later was it adopted in Britain and America (and in the second half of the 20th century applied to left-of-centre politics in America). Get our daily newsletter Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor's Picks. As part of The Economist’s Open Future initiative, we are publishing an … [Read more...] about Liberals need to ditch the technocratic for higher purpose