Great Renormations

        "Humanity must remain as it is."
-Pope Leo XIII

A sad thing about being American is that patriotism has never had much of a chance to find genuine expression in our souls, we having been taught that Americanism has to do with a love of our republican system of law and government (or whatever our system is) as opposed to a concern for deeper realities, such as that which brought Odysseus to tears in that fine TV adaptation when, after 20 years, he again tasted the cheese of his beloved Ithaca.

A Frenchman may be a republican, a monarchist, or even a communist; whichever he is, he knows it is a grand thing to be a Frenchman. Russians, Asians, and most Europeans resemble the French in this way, though with variations. While a study of these by someone of (considerably) more insight than Francis Fukuyama might prove fascinating indeed, the essence of patriotism is finally some je ne sais quoi quality, like that cheese.

That is why expressions of American patriotism always seem so forced and artificial. Asked to define his patriotism, the Frenchman would doubtless find the question simply irksome, knowing how inadequate an invocation of the cheese, or Charles Martel, or even Joan of Arc would be, not to mention the glories of the Fifth Republic. My own patriotism has, I think, something to do with William Faulkner and bourbon, a lake in northern...

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