American "exceptionalism" is really a great irritation to me. I love all parts of the world, and if I had the money, I would travel. Sadly, I cannot go to all of the places I would like. Jumping on a train and going to another country train (cheaply) would be awesome.
I get my exposure to the thoughts and culture of other countries by TV, and reading. I love the BBS World News. I also read the Guardian, Iindependent, and the Moscow Times. BBC World News is great due to its break down of news by regions of the world; Africa, Mid-East, Asia, etc.
The US can and should learn a lot from the world, and we have. Lets look at some of those things below the fold Y'all.
We learned how to enslave our fellow human beings from Europe. Who taught us this? England, France, and Spain. Slavery wasn't very wide spread in Europe, but once they came here, they sure thought that it was okay for the natives and for Africans.
England (UK), also taught us how to take over other countries and impose Its culture on others. They had plenty of practice on Scotland and Ireland before taking it on the road to the Western Hemisphere. Once here, they perfected it on the Native American population. Ethnic cleansing in Europe is a long tradition, not something invented in the 20th Century.
Another of our "original sins" is guns. We have a long tradition born of necessity. You see, Parliament and the King loved having the colonies, but were not really interested in protecting them that much unless it was a direct threat from Europe, French and Indian War for example. The people settling here needed to defend themselves as they were doing the will of the home country. And speaking of Ethnic Cleansing (above), a lot of those Scots, Scotch-Irish, and Irish were forced to come here. You see, they were "cleared" from the land, and had no place to go so they came here to escape.
Scalping humans, that was a great one too. This little activity wasn't very widely used by Natives Americans until they got caught up in the European conflicts. This was a way of getting paid a bounty by one side to show they had killed the other.
Europe and the UK loved Empire. Two continents, Africa and Asia, and the Indian subcontinent have still not recovered even 50 odd years after independence. Part of the reason is that the old powers continued, and continue to this day, to meddle in the affairs of the old colonies.
There are things that Europe has figured out today that would be nice to have here like universal health care, stronger labor laws for example.
Europe, and I include the UK here, also has a lot of things they HAVE NOT figured out.
They haven't figured out how to stamp out poverty. Europe has some pretty nasty slums.
Europe hasn't figured out how to stamp out racism. Even the "liberals" there support racist policies or oppose policies that would reduce it. Our immigration policies are screwed, but so are Europe's. Go to any slum in Europe and you will see a lot of brown faces from Asia, the Mid-East, and Africa. You will also see people from poorer countries of Europe in those slums. None of these people will ever make it out of those slums.
And with respect to poverty, the rich countries like Germany, France, and the UK are more than happy to FUCK over the people of other countries. These countries force austerity on countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Besides the pain being forced on these countries, they are having national inequities forced upon them and institutionalized.
Europe hasn't figured out how to stamp out violence either. Sure they don't have our gun violence. Good, God bless them for it. On the other hand, how many of us are killed while watching our football? How many riots break out in the stadiums when our team is on the short end? UK football fans are despised in particular by the rest of Europe because of their thuggery.
Another thing Y'all haven't stamped out is a sense of cultural superiority. I was received quite nicely by many, but I was treated quite badly for just being an American. I have also seen how Y'all act when y"all come over here. Maybe restraint is respected over there, but I have seen a lot of loud, drunken and totally inappropriate behavior even by our standards when you come over here.
You have a lot to teach us. Much of it is good. Much of it is useless. But if Y'all want a good conversation, please don't start if off with condensation from the get go. Thanks