A couple of things before I answer Mr. Zellmer's letter for this week, which I will include in this column.

Congratulations to our three new firefighters. Each received the City's coveted badge at last night's regular City Council meeting. They were individually pinned by family members. A proud moment!


Congratulations also to those Council members who voted to exclude medical marijuana warehouses and delivery systems in the city. This has been a very contentious issue for years now, and I'm glad that it finally seems to have been resolved.


Thank you Mr. Zellmer for responding to my earlier comments in the Gazette. I wish I had more time to really get into these issues regarding America's alleged status as an "exceptional nation," and you probably do as well. It's been many decades since I last studied the subject of logic. Of all my philosophy classes I found logic most rewarding - just wish I could remember more of it.

It still intrigues me to see how successive arguments in a dialogue squeezes, simplifies, and clarifies issues. I wish I could have more such arguments. Folks don't seem to have the time these days, or the patience.

In the time I do have, permit me to answer again in "bullet" form.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that you are not reasonably informed. You are obviously highly informed, as your academic status shows. Turning my statement up-side-down, those persons who are entirely ignorant of America's achievements could not have an informed opinion on the issue. But I think most people informed about America's scientific, agricultural, military, and civic achievements would credit these achievements as "exceptional" among the nations of the world.

We did save Europe in two World Wars, and prevented starvation with food shipments, and won the Cold War, defeating the Soviet Union through economics, and went to the moon. Our achievements, across the board, seem exceptional if only held up for comparison to all other nations of the world. Examples of our exceptional abilities abound.

Concerning the Civil War, half of our country was enslaved before 1860, and half free. Abraham Lincoln took the slavery dilemma by the horns. War was a terrible choice, but a better one than continued slavery. This was a courageous moral decision. Other nations decided to end slavery, but without the issue of civil war.

In stating that (in my opinion) "a reasonably informed person"...would be lead to believe America is an exceptional place. I did not use the word " necessarily", which would make a universal statement, which would be illogical on several levels. Nor did I intend to state exceptional "in every way." In many ways America is not exceptional. So, "total exceptionalism" is not my position, and we may be in agreement here.

I agree with you that "America's moral actions have not always been exceptional compared to other nations", but, also, vice versa as well.

To say that a nation is exceptional must imply many various aspects, too many to completely identify. I apologize if my comment about the emancipation of slaves was misstated. I just meant to say that one alleged example of America's exceptionalism is just that, a single example, of perhaps millions of others.

As you know, a discussion of the moral influence of our Judeo-Christian American base would take volumes to explain - and has. The word "blessings" implies, for me, a Supreme God. Though several of our Founders were Deists, and one perhaps a true atheist, all firmly believed, and repeatedly stated their belief in religion as the foundation of the new democratic republic.

By "blessings" here I mean the spiritual and material things conducive to happiness and security. America is blessed by its geographical location, secured between two oceans; its agricultural climate, its mineral wealth, its common language and literature, its military might, and all of the specified rights in our Bill of Rights and Constitution. In short, our freedom and material stability for 240 years.

But I could as well have used the word "benefits" for "blessings" and make the same point. I believe America is also exceptional in its actions as well as institutions. By all means not perfect, but our actions have spoken louder than mere words - we do house the United Nations, and have given life-saving support in virtually every world calamity. I think America is due some thanks here. Who else could have provided such support? How many others would have?

On the use of the word "merely", I have addressed your arguments in whole, and you appeared to believe that the Civil War was less than a great example of exceptionalism. I don't have the time today to find your use of this word; I believe your correction here.

By all means we should be critical of our institutions, as you suggest.

You have also prompted me to "sharpen [my] views", Mr. Zellmer, and I have very much enjoyed our exchange. I regret this will be your last letter.

Please feel free to send another at your convenience.

Thanks again,
Martin Farrell