Regarding "American Exceptionalism: No. 1 in killing of citizens," June 28 letter to the editor by Ed Siemaszko:
The phrase "American Exceptionalism" has been used in many ways and purposes, but its original meaning involved a statement of fact: For the first century after the Constitution went into effect, Europeans and Americans alike saw the United States as exceptional, with political and civic cultures that had no counterparts anywhere else in the world. That particular uniqueness arguably may or may not remain true today, but to deny it in our history is just negationism (lying about the past in order to re-create it).
Why then do we seem by Mr. Siemaszko to have a problem with "a gun culture (that) permits unparalleled killing of our own citizens?" Perhaps for the same reason that many of our youth are vulnerable to radicalization by groups fueled by ideals of hatred and violence?
These hate groups (jihadists and white supremacists) have a misbegotten appeal that creates a false sense of belonging to the lost and the rudderless. A partial solution could be found in affirming an American culture that the youth could be proud to be a part of.
This constant attack on our culture leaves our youth with no bedrock on which to stand. Rather it makes them look for groups depicting (falsely or not) the appearance of pride in their convictions.
Perhaps what is needed is a reaffirmation of particularly American values, those that can unleash the individual (regardless of class, race, religion ...) to be the best they can be.
Ask yourself which changes in our culture should be applauded? Which changes should to be mourned? Answering these questions might give us a start of something of value to pass on, thus making us the true descendants of the founders.
Cynthia Baird Campbell