This has been around for a few days--but it is worth noting belatedly:

Put away the flags!

"On this July 4," says Howard Zinn, "we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed."

The gist?

A false belief in American exceptionalism leads us into all manner of self deceptions--many of which are dangerous to ourselves and others.

What is American exceptionalism?

The belief the United States of America as a "nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history."

Zinn asserts that America is not "uniquely moral." But we are adept at framing our self-interested forays "into other lands" as noble crusades to "bring civilization, liberty, democracy" to the less fortunate.

Zinn asserts that this view is dead wrong. The peace-seeking brotherhood of man all over the world, as well as the naive in America, are "victims," casualties of our "government's lies."

Zinn's prescription:

We need to refute the idea that our nation is unique and disabuse ourselves of the notion that we are a force for good in the world.

"We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation."

The full essay in the Progressive here.

Although Zinn was a World War II bombardier--he makes no mention of any of the folks to whom we are not morally superior: the Axis powers he fought against, the Soviet Empire that filled the vacuum of power in Eastern Europe after the defeat of the Nazis or the current threat: Islamism.

In the crudest sense, Howard Zinn embodies the moral equivalency of the "blame America" crowd. Noting flaws and egregious mistakes in American history, which Zinn has done so expertly and lucratively over his career, is not tantamount to saying our system and ethos is fraudulent and malevolent.

For this week dedicated to celebrating American independence, I prefer to think of the myriad heroes who understood the uniqueness of our nation in their souls.

I prefer Lincoln over Zinn:

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."