Exactly 240 years ago, the Second Continental Congress formally adopted our flag. Recently, several colleges have banned the flag from campus. Because our flag is under attack, this is a good time to revisit the question of American exceptionalism. President Obama famously stated: “I believe in American exceptionalism just as the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, America is unexceptional. MLLG believes otherwise; to wit:
- Since man first trod this earth, there have been 110 billion humans and fewer than 1% have lived their lives in liberty. Even today, less than 10% of the 7.5 billion people alive enjoy relative liberty. As Lincoln said at Gettysburg, America is a nation conceived in liberty. Clearly, liberty is exceptional throughout human history.
- America’s founding was unique. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were the driving forces, not bonds of religion, nationality or tribe. We are the only nation ever founded on an idea. Our motto is E Pluribus Unum, or one out of many, which not uncoincidentially contains exactly thirteen letters. The shot fired in Lexington at dawn on July 29, 1775 was the shot heard around the world for very good reason.
- Our Constitution is by far the oldest surviving written charter of government; the second oldest is Norway’s in 1814 – 38 years later. Over 50% of constitutions fail within 20 years; ours has lasted 230 years and counting. Surely, this is exceptional.
- America is a nation of immigrants. Despite some hiccups, all have been absorbed into the fabric of America. The Statue of Liberty says it all: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. There has never been a country so welcoming to so many people from so many places for so long.
- America has laid costly sacrifices on the alter of freedom in many wars and mostly without conquest, territory, resources or occupation. In WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan we sacrificed to keep the flame of liberty lit.
- America remains exceptional today. We have acknowledged and sought to correct our mistakes. Many Muslim countries bar non Muslims from citizenship and condone slavery. Any Japanese who is even one-sixteenth Korean is shunned. China has fewer than 1,500 naturalized citizens. Europe fails to assimilate its immigrants. Places like Latin and South America, Africa, Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East are well beyond the pale. America remains the last best hope for the world.
America is the only nation ever defined by an idea, and one that continues to be noble, true and eternal; it captivates and inspires people the world over who dream not only of coming to America but of becoming Americans. This land is our land, from California to the New York Island, from the redwood forests to the gulf stream waters, from purple mountain majesties above fruited plains to oceans white with foam.
May God continue to shed his grace on America, to stand beside her and guide her with a light from above and may God continue to bless America – our home sweet home! On Flag Day we celebrate our flag and the exceptional nation it represents!
On June 18th we write about Fermi’s Paradox and extraterrestrial life.