May 13, 2011

On Patriotism

Jonah Goldberg of NRO opines, sounding a bit like Chesterton on this issue:
If I said, "There's really nothing special about my wife," you might think not only that I'm a cad, but that I don't particularly like my wife. If my wife said, "My daughter's fine, but she's really no better than any other kid," you might think she's lacking in the maternal-love department.

Now before I continue, let me say clearly and on the record that these are hypotheticals. My wife is very special. Indeed, this is an understatement of equal magnitude to "Breathing is popular" or "Jeffrey Dahmer would make a poor high-school guidance counselor." And though we might eschew a bumper sticker saying so, we both think our kid is better than your kid. But I don't want to clutter this space with too much romantic or paternal treacle.

This illustrates a truth about how love works. At some basic level, if you love something, you must find it preferable to something else, perhaps everything else. Your reasons can be subjective, or indeed impossible to identify. I put it to you that men who marry women solely because they meet a checklist (Blond hair: Check! Green Bay Packers fan: Check!) aren't really in love. They may grow to love their spouse, but that happens only when they come to appreciate what makes her different from a mere manifestation of categorical bullet points.

I bring this up because I continue to be amazed by the bizarre obsession liberal intellectuals have with "American exceptionalism."

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