Nationalism should not always have a negative connotation


From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Will Dean

A spectre is haunting America the spectre of nationalism. As citizens of this new age, we have been told that if a people become loyal and devoted to their nation, they become nationalists. The word stirs up memories of Nazi Germany and the Confederate South, both of which are blots on human history.

Nationalism is often associated with those on the political right. According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 61 percent of conservatives said they were “extremely proud” to be American, compared to just 36 percent of liberals. But the national pride that conservatives possess has very different roots than those of the Nazis.

An important distinction must be made between “blood and soil nationalism” and pride in a country’s founding values. The “blood and soil nationalism” bases itself on just that: the blood in one’s body and the soil on which they were born. It is tribalism of the highest order. Pride in values is entirely different.

To believe that “all men are created equal” as the Declaration of Independence said, allows people to respect anyone, regardless of the color of their skin or where they were born. To quote political commentator Ben Shapiro, “Conservatives love America because we believe it is a nation founded on an idea.” This idea is the supremacy of the individual identity over collective identity. To be a value-focused nationalist simply means that these principles apply to all American citizens. It is patriotism of the highest order.

Patriotism is also diametrically opposed to tribalism. If one believes in individual liberty, they believe that one should not be judged on what they are but rather what they stand for. Furthermore, it not only allows for but encourages freedom of expression. The idea of more opinions, not fewer, is at the center of this ideology.

When hearing of the spread of the nationalism, the reaction should not immediately be negative. Research what principles are being promoted. If individuality is pushed, it is not the dangerous nationalism that was seen in the 1930s. It is instead the healthy pride in country seen in the 1980s. On the contrary, if collective identity is pushed, be wary and criticize it at every turn.