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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 17, 2013 / 13 Tishrei, 5774

Putin conveniently forgets Russian exceptionalism

By Cathy Young





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed explaining the Russian position on Syria has been one of the odder, and most talked-about, aspects of the past week's events surrounding that crisis. Putin's parting shot at President Barack Obama over the notion of American exceptionalism is particularly rich in unintentional ironies -- both because of Obama's complicated relationship with American exceptionalism and because of Putin's history with the Russian variety.

In the past, Obama has been lambasted by conservatives for abandoning American exceptionalism. In 2009, on his first presidential trip abroad, Obama drew ire from the right when he seemed to downplay America's uniqueness by saying, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Yet Obama's defenders noted that he immediately went on to assert that we have core values that, "though imperfect, are exceptional," as well as a unique leadership role in the world.

In his address on Syria last Tuesday, Obama seemed to equate America's exceptional status with a duty to protect the innocent abroad when we can do so "with modest effort and risk." One may see this as an unusually government-oriented concept of American exceptionalism, traditionally rooted in the principle that people take precedence over the state: Individuals have inalienable rights, while the government derives its powers from their consent. Yet, however debatable, it is also a concept unquestionably rooted in human rights.

At the end of his op-ed, Putin chides, "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 . . . We must not forget that G0D created us equal."

There's a series of old Russian jokes offering examples of naglost -- a term similar to chutzpah -- and super naglost. Putin's lecture belongs with the latter. No culture in the world today is as saturated with the idea of its country's unique greatness as Russia's. Moreover, exploiting this messianic nationalism has been the key to Putin's entire political career.



After the collapse of Communism in 1991, Russia saw a revival of the 19th century conflict between "Westernizers" and proponents of a special path for Russia. Putin's neo-authoritarianism, despite some Western-style trappings, was a victory for nationalism. It is no accident that the Putin-era Russian anthem hails Russia as "one in the world, one of a kind -- our land kept safe by G0D." Russia's uniqueness in contrast to the corrupt and individualist West is routinely preached by the pro-government media and the Russian Orthodox Church, Putin's staunchest ally.

In January 2012, shortly before his return to the presidency, Putin penned an article for a leading Russian newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, asserting that "the great mission of Russians is to unite and fortify civilization." He was ostensibly referring to the role of ethnic Russians within a multiethnic country; yet, combined with his well-known nostalgia for the Soviet empire, the statement suggests a far grander vision of Russian primacy.

In describing this mission, Putin cited 19th century novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky's assertion that the Russian people have "universal empathy" -- forgetting to mention that Dostoyevsky used this claim as a basis for virulent, imperialistic nationalism. Proclaiming the superiority of Russians as a "G0D-bearing people, he wrote, "A truly great nation can never accept a secondary place in the history of humanity, or even one of the first; it must have first place."

American exceptionalism, however flawed, is based on the idea of liberty. Russian exceptionalism is based on the superiority of paternalistic government and communal bonds over individual rights. And that is, indeed, a dangerous ideology to encourage.

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JWR contributor Cathy Young is a regular contributor to Reason magazine and Newsday. Comment by clicking here.


© 2013, Cathy Young. This originally appeared in Newsday.

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