Is it “American Exceptionalism” or “American Except-tionalism”


Actually, both.
While the coronavirus worsens in the U.S., other countries are opening up to foreign travelers. EXCEPT to Americans – due to our EXCEPTIONAL botching of the crisis.

A reader and a good friend sent me an article the other day entitled “American Passports Are Worthless Now.” It was from a publication I hadn’t seen before, Medium, described as, “…not like any other platform on the internet. Our sole purpose is to help you find compelling ideas, knowledge, and perspectives. We don’t serve ads—we serve you, the curious reader who loves to learn new things.” Wow, can you imagine reading an article without having to disable your “Ad Blocker,” which after you do, makes the content impossible to actually read? But, I digress.

The author of “American Passports are Worthless Now,” Indi Samarajiva, “a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Founded some stuff, sold one, now writing full time,” posits, “America is not united anymore and it’s barely a state. They have crashed right through failed state into a plague state, unwelcome across the world.”

He goes on, “Americans have gone from having access to most of the world to being banned from most of it. Today, Americans are only allowed in a few Caribbean islands and the Balkans. An American passport is now worthless. Worse than worthless, it’s a plague. In the absence of a humane government, America is now ruled by COVID-19. Welcome to the Plague States of America.”

In a nod to the still prevailing American attitude that we are somehow “exceptional,” Samarajiva suggests, “I think it is difficult for Americans to understand that they are, to use an epidemiological term, completely fucked.” Note, this is coming from someone who’s living in Sri Lanka!

Here’s a link to Medium and Samarajiva’s essay: You may or may not agree with some of his most dire projections of the toll the pandemic and Covid-19 will inflict on America and it’s people. And that’s fair. But you can’t dispute his premise about the American passport. Because that’s fact. And in illustrating that fact, Samarajiva included two images that drew me in.

PRE-CORONAVIRUS: Countries in BLACK required Americans to obtain a Visa


POST-CORONAVIRUS: Countries in BLACK to which Americans cannot travel.

And for those of you who have troubled with maps and images, here’s another way of looking at things:

Now, bear in mind, the above chart shows all the places Americans can travel to, all 28 of them. Just to put this into perspective, there are 195 countries in the world; Americans can travel to 14% of them. (I’ll leave it to someone else to figure out the percentage on a population basis.)

As Samarajiva says, “Welcome to the club. Post-colonial bullshit and racism have made my Sri Lankan passport worthless for years. Now the American passport is worse. America has crashed straight through the third world into the fourth.”

American Exceptionalism meet American Except-tionalism!

(Note: At the outset of this piece I gave credit to a reader/friend for sending me the link to Medium. I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to another reader/friend for introducing me to the term, American Except-tionalism. Thanks John. Thanks, Charles. I really appreciate the input and support!)

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

5 thoughts on “Is it “American Exceptionalism” or “American Except-tionalism”

  1. Thanks Ted!! Always interesting posts from you. Hope you and family are all well. Be well and stay safe, Liz Elizabeth P. Ball President / Creative Director TFI Envision, Inc. The Connection to Conversion Agency 203.845.0700

    From: Around the Block Reply-To: Around the Block Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 3:39 PM To: Liz Ball Subject: [New post] Is it ³American Exceptionalism² or ³American Except-tionalism² Ted Block posted: ” Commentary Actually, both. While the coronavirus worsens in the U.S., other countries are opening up to foreign travelers. EXCEPT to Americans ­ due to our EXCEPTIONAL botching of the crisis. A reader and a good friend sent me an article the ot”


  2. Can’t believe you are writing All of our heads are riled up beyond belief But you just had your eye surgery…REST

    Sent from my iPad



  3. Eye surgery?…so what’s the issue…don’t you ‘touch type’? 😉

    I’m passing along Indi Samarajiva’s piece from,the ‘Medium’, and Peter Baker’s NY Times coverage of trumpolini’s…uh…don’t really know what to call it…rant?…rave?…tirade?, to interested parties. I did notice that CNN cut away from that event in The Rose Garden after 5 minutes or so, indicating they’d be watching for anything of importance to report on. This is what should have been done months/years ago…don’t give ‘the disease’ any oxygen.

    The administration’s hijacking of the medical information on C-19 is positively Stalinesque.

    And BTW, thanks for the acknowledgement.

    In avanti

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No big deal — Cataract surgery in one eye. My eyesight is now better than it’s been since I was 18. I only wish everything else was…but that’s another subject. I was going to put the C-19 bypass in my piece but if I included everything, I’d never stop writing and never post. And BTW, you deserve the credit. It’s a great line!


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