Monday, November 10, 2008

this thing that's bothering me

i danced and sang and shouted in the streets in brooklyn on tuesday night and hugged total strangers and felt elation and incredulous joy. i knew it wouldn't last, but i also knew it felt right to celebrate wildly.

and now, almost a week later, i'm starting to feel annoyed by this one thing the commentators have been saying a LOT: that this couldn't happen in any other country on earth.

see, for instance, this otherwise genius day-after-the-election conversation between jon stewart and chris wallace.

and notice: it wasn't just chris wallace saying it: jon stewart agrees.

i'm not going to go point by point and country by country and talk about why this is incorrect, i'm just going to say two words, in capital letters: SOUTH AFRICA. a country that did something far more unprecedented, quite a number of years ago. HOW COME NO ONE IS SAYING THAT. i hate this crappy american exceptionalism. its harshing my mellow, majorly.


LG said...

Not that we're mainstream media, but that's exactly what we said on GRITtv...on election day with the producer of "South Africa Now," which used to be on PBS in the 80s

Anonymous said...

hey rachel,
love your blog.
i understand your hesitation to pat america on the back and as the daughter of a total nationalist i am someone incredibly uncomfortable with nationalism and patriotism, but there is nowhere else in the western/northern world where a person of color can achieve what they can in this country. not even canada. i realized that early on growing up in d.c. - the chocolate city. it's unfortunate that this is only possible because of the massive hardship and inequity experienced by many over many years (and goes on) but power was fought for and won here in a way that has not yet happened in other wsern/northern countries... it's a totally different story when you look at south america, africa or asia. apples and oranges.
south africa is a different story and has it's own fucked up history/reality.
hope you're well.

::rachel mattson:: said...


thanks for your comment. i love it that serious people are reading this blog, and thinking hard about the very intermittent things i post here.

and i really appreciate your point. you might be right. but the thing is, none of the people who are saying this crap on the mainstream media are saying it with the caveats you've included here-- that is, that this couldn't happen anywhere else in the West. they're saying that it couldn't happen anyWHERE. that's the part that is so upsetting. cause its just super myopic.

anyhow, xo to you.

Anonymous said...


I love this blog!

I too hate American exceptionalism and I think that what America needs is a healthy dose of humility, the kind that understands that we are just a nation among nations, no better no worse. The key to America getting right sized is a new way of teaching history, and that is in a global and universal sense, and not the kind of universalism that is limited to the 'West."

I have a history blog too, and I am putting a link to yours. This is great, thank you!