This is my first Independence Day as an American citizen. Despite having lived in the United States for three decades—the entirety of my adult life—my Green Card sufficed. I grew up in a pro-America home, somewhat unusual for Canadians, venerated Ronald Reagan, and tended to view, as I now decisively judge, the United States as superior to Canada in its commitments to ordered liberty and self-governance, let alone as a place of dynamism and opportunity.

In other words, I’ve loved the United States for as long as I can recall, but not with the love of a member, a citizen. Now, in the short months since naturalization, I’ve found myself, somewhat bemusedly, surprised at newfound emotion when singing “America the Beautiful” in church on Memorial Day and the “Star-Spangled Banner” to start a game. Membership gives access to “mystic chords” unavailable to a more distant appreciation, I gather.

Love of one’s place does not occlude the faults of that place, of course, and we well know the challenges and defects of this nation. The tensions between order and liberty have resulted in an odd two-front conflict, with liberty swamping order on the social, cultural, and sexual front, and order (or a false vision of order) swamping liberty in the relation between the state and the individual in matters of business and markets. We have bureaucratic bloat, a massive administrative state, and endless taxes—I live in New Jersey, after all—while thwarting the attempts of parents to keep sexualized and pornographic materials out of school libraries. Order and liberty are out of balance.

At Public Discourse we do our best to build, strengthen, and defend the basic institutions of a free and flourishing people, institutions of the family, religion, good government, and education. At times we critique and note shortcomings, although we do so calmly and fairly, but even those criticisms are for something rather than against: we are for flourishing, for good institutions, and for the nation.

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It is in that light that I suggest reading or rereading some of our essays from the past month. Felix James Miller reminds us of the historical and personal importance of summer camp and also the ways this institution is ailing.

John F. Doherty considers the crisis of self that plagues our society, a crisis caused by a loss of faith in our personhood and ignorance “of the God who best reveals what a person is.”

And we have miles to go before we can rest in the abortion debates, as evidenced by a Manifesto penned by Monica Snyder, Charles C. Camosy, and Eric Scheidler about the many unwanted and coerced abortions that occur each year. Additionally, Alexandra DeSanctis reports on chemical abortions and the medical capacities to reverse in-progress chemical abortions, even as many physicians do not provide full information.

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From the Archives

Patriotism is not jingoism, not “my country right or wrong.” On this Fourth of July weekend, three essays from the archives stand out as offering sound guidance on the relation of reason and patriotism: (1) Charles J. Chaput’s “In Defense of a Healthy Patriotism,” (2) Randall Smith’s “Patient Patriotism,” (3) and Jamie Boulding’s interview of Steven B. Smith, “Patriotism in a Polarized Age.”

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Thanks for reading PD. And I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July.

R. J. Snell


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