Letters to the Editor
January 10, 2018

To the Editor:
In your first sentence you say that for the “reasonably informed” person, knowledge of American history (necessarily?) leads to the conclusion of American exceptionalism. If your claim is that knowledge of American history necessarily leads to the conclusion that America is exceptional in every way, then we disagree on this. Let’s call this view Total Exceptionalism. If Total Exceptionalism is not your position, then we may be in agreement. In the same paragraph you discuss knowledge of facts about the Civil War that a “reasonable and informed” person would know, which is why I inferred that your point was that the deaths of 600,000+ white men was evidence of American exceptionalism.
To challenge Total Exceptionalism, we only need to find one counterexample. I meant for my short argument on Jan. 3rd to be a counterexample which shows that America’s moral actions have not always been exceptional compared to other nations. I do not equate American institutions, such as the Bill of Rights and Constitution, with American morality (although there is overlap). The Bill of Rights may be exceptional even though America's moral actions are not. My Jan. 3rd letter was meant to give a counterexample to Total Exceptionalism by showing that knowledge of the Civil War death of 600,000+ white men in American history does not lead everyone to affirm American moral exceptionalism. On Jan 3rd you wrote that you “did not rely only upon our Civil War as an example of America’s exceptional status among nations,” which leads me to believe that you do think the Civil War is a piece of evidence in favor of American exceptionalism. Although you also say that your point was merely that America fighting the civil war to end slavery was “in itself, a good thing.” I agree that going to war to end slavery is a good thing, but I don't see the Civil War as a piece of evidence in favor of American exceptionalism.
I was a bit dismayed that I was misquoted in support of your argument in your Jan. 3rd editorial. You quoted me as saying that I “don’t view this fact [emancipation of slaves] as evidence, alone, of America’s moral exceptionalism.” If you look back at my Jan 3rd letter you will see that the word “alone” does not appear in that sentence. Perhaps this, in part, leads to your characterization of my argument as claiming that you are basing American exceptionalism solely on Civil War facts. I’ll assume that you meant to bracket “alone.” My argument was not that this is your only evidence, but that this evidence, as I understood it, did not necessarily support the conclusion that America is morally exceptional. As a side question, why does the fundamental Judeo-Christian moral base provide a basis for civil blessings, as you claim, and not for things that aren’t blessings, i.e., slavery?
I’m not opposed to your claim that America is exceptional in a general sense – it clearly is exceptional in many ways (e.g., politically, institutionally, economically) and unexceptional in other ways, historically and in the present day. So far, in my letters to you I have not disputed American exceptionalism in its freedom, political institutions, generosity, etc. My worry is about us believing that American history shows that America is morally exceptional in its actions (distinct from institutions such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights). I have only disputed the claim that knowledge of American history necessarily leads to the conclusion that America is an exceptional moral place. I have arguments about compensating people of color, but I’ll save them for another time.
Lastly, towards the end of your response you say that “ending slavery…was much more than ‘merely’ a step in the right direction.” The word “merely” is in quotations, and so I think it reasonable to assume that you meant to be quoting me, as your editorial was a response to me and there is no other source cited. If you look back at my letter published on Jan 3rd you’ll see that I said “…emancipation was a big step in the right direction.” I did not use the word “merely” in that sentence, although I did use the word “merely” earlier in the letter, so I assume it just got misplaced in your editorial.
A belief of mine is that a way to better our institutions is to be critical of them, and to have dialogues such as this one, in which we both sharpen our reasons and so rationally move closer to how we should view and/or improve our institutions. You have helped me sharpen my views and so you have my gratitude. There is much more we could discuss and clarify, more definitions to be given, and more arguments to be made in this exchange, but this will be my last letter on this topic. I look forward to your comments.
With respect,
Jacob Zellmer


To the Editor:
Our city leaders will once again be voting on if they should allow pot related business in your town. Despite that the majority of you have voted in 2016 with 57% against it while other cities in the county voted for it. Despite that many of you signed petitions against it and now it has been contently lost. They are back to trying to get it in yet another way. Deliveries and warehouses. The few who need this product currently can grow their own or are getting it from other communities. We do not have facilities for cancer related problems in our town or even a hospital of which all of our community could use why do we need pot related business in our town when the needs of a few are clearly being met by other communities. Why not take a wait and see approach for 2-3 years and see how those cities fair and if it really is worth the risk. Please show up to council meeting January 9th to voice your opinion once again.
Kathy Pace