I've been thinking about this for a while, but this video has really crystalized things for me.
Sometimes, I feel like a major problem with American exceptionalism is that it leads to feeling like other people, well, just aren't people.
I've lamented before that often we say "America is the best" but can't quantify how it is. I've heard that America is more "free" than anywhere else in the world, without explaining how it's more free than, say, Canada or Britain or the Netherlands.
And there often seems to be this presumption that because it's America that's doing it, it's inherently good. Think about how Dubya couldn't respond to the questions saying that if he could re-define the Geneva conventions, couldn't other, less savoury nations? He basically said, well, the US would only do it in good ways.
Add to that the fact that Americans just don't get out of town that much, and don't tend to know much about the world (our readership, of course, excluded) and I think you have a problem. Because when you don't know about foreigners, but know that you're better than them, it leads to a bad situation.
Look at the lack of outrage (apart from among the liberal left of the cities) at Guantanamo.
Look at the lack of worry about the detainee bills--they're foreign, they're different, they're probably bad, so why afford them the same rights we get?
Look at the fact the torture bill sailed through Congress and Dems were afraid to oppose because their constitutents would get mad: Well, it doesn't matter, because they're foreign and different and probably bad, so why treat them the way we want to treat ourselves?
Look at Abu Ghraib--I simply have no concept of how anyone could do that to people, unless they didn't think that they actually were people. Who do you know could scare their fellow humans with dogs? Cover them in excrement? Make them pile up naked and simulate sex? Do mock executions?
What human being would drive a car and make kids run for water (keep in mind Iraq doesn't have a constant water supply in most cities)--kids, for Christ's sake--as sport? Only people who don't think of those kids as people.
The Nazis did what they did because nongermans were less than Germans.
Is history repeating itself?