Our Dear Land
by Anthony Esolen
Americans have heard lately, mainly from American politicians, that it is not possible to love America unless you love its government, which means, practically speaking, its governors, the politicians themselves. L'etat, c'est moi, said the bloated old French dynast. He was in this regard gentler on his subjects than our governors are. There was only one Louis XIV that they all had to love, and his method of loving his subjects was the old and necessarily limited one of inviting a few of the prettier females to a closer acquaintance with their sovereign. Most Frenchmen lived safely beneath the enmity of their one king. If only Americans could live safely beneath the loving-kindness of their many thousands.
But what a sad thing it is, to have no country to love, but only The Congressional Record, or the by-laws of the senate of Arkansas! I'm flat-footed enough to believe that when you love your country, you love that place under your shoes. You love the red clay hills of north Georgia, or the shiny black coal that splinters under the grass in Pennsylvania. You love the snow-laden gales blowing across Lake Michigan (yes, you do). You love that there are such things as scrapple, Yankee Clippers, banjos, baseball fields, marching bands, and diners serving blueberry pancakes as big as hubcaps but heavier. You love the place, and all its peculiar ways, just as you love your cousins and your classmates, even when you fight with them, and sometimes especially when you fight.
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Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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