'American exceptionalism' has become deadly arrogance

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/3 11:41:18

People wear face masks as they walk down a street in Flushing area of Queens on March 2 in New York City. Photo: AFP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday said that the White House is in "very active discussion" on the idea of recommending broad nationwide use of facial masks, CNN reported. This move goes against the advice of some top officials in US President Donald Trump's administration who have warned against widespread use of masks.

In face of a life-or-death matter, opinions in the US have differed. Wearing a mask in public is one of the effective measures to prevent the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus. As of press time, the number of total confirmed cases in the US hit 245,000, with more than 6,000 deaths, the severity of which goes far beyond expectations. 

Why did Washington ignore the many measures that have been proven effective in East Asian countries in preventing and containing the spread of the virus? Why is the US an exception? 

At the early stage of the outbreak, US stockpiles of masks may have been insufficient to meet the massive demands, and recommending the public to wear masks may trigger panic. This might be a factor in discouraging the use of masks. However, the number of masks available in US now can meet the demand for large-scale public use. Now that the outbreak is rapidly spreading across the country, more research is raising awareness of the importance of wearing a mask in public and the US government is re-evaluating criteria on wearing masks.

Meanwhile, the arrogance of some politicians in Washington dominates their deeds. They believe the US is the greatest and most advanced country in the world, and make a haughty assumption that their own assessment of everything, including the coronavirus outbreak, must be correct. They believe different evaluations from other countries must be incorrect. Their sense of superiority leads them to ignore the valuable experience other countries have had in combating the disease. Also, their ideological prejudice against China dictates their belief that whatever China does is inappropriate for the US to follow. Consequently, they are now paying a bitter price for their uninformed suppositions.

The mind-set of "American exceptionalism" has led to the country's arrogance and presumes the US somehow stands alone as more superior than other countries. In confronting the spread of the COVID-19, Washington appears to still feel this superiority, while the Financial Times said it was "the wrong kind of American exceptionalism." 

The coronavirus outbreak is a common foe of all humanity, and will continue to spread regardless of whether you are an American or not. Being exceptional and ignoring other countries' effective and valid measures will doom a country to suffer tragic losses. 

The US has had the highest number of coronavirus infected cases in the world. It is time for Washington to abandon its exceptionalism, spare no efforts to learn successful countermeasures and experience from other countries, and cooperate with any country that can get it through these tough times. This is the only way the US can effectively curb the deadly virus.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Lu Yuanzhi based on an interview with Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. [email protected]

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