Applied American Exceptionalism


According to the Wikipedia entry (OK, maybe not the most reliable source, but it is the fastest), “American exceptionalism” is the notion “that the United States is qualitatively different from other nations.” The first person to say so (although not in those exact words) wasn’t even American, but French – Alexis de Tocqueville. While sometimes thought of as a doctrine embraced mostly by isolationists and others on the right wing of the political spectrum, according to Wikipedia, internationalist Communists were there first to coin the phrase, as an excuse for why the supposedly historic inevitability of Communism was such a miserable failure in the United States

We occasionally see American exceptionalism at work in prescription medical product liability litigation. Sometimes it takes a raw, rather nasty incarnation – as when plaintiffs’ lawyers attempt to incite nativist suspicions, or worse, in juries when the defendant is a company based in Europe, Japan, or more frequently these days India or China. In one recent example, a plaintiff offered an “expert” in “Chinese culture” who could “‘see beyond the facade in China’ in a way that others cannot,” for the purpose of saying that the defendant should never have bought anything Chinese made. In re Heparin Product Liability Litigation, 2011 WL 1059660, at *9 (N.D. Ohio March 21, 2011). Fortunately, the court resoundingly rejected this rank attempt to appeal to anti-foreign prejudices. First, they were purely a product of the expert’s prejudices, and had nothing to do with the facts of the case...

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