Here’s what I said: “And I never said that nationalism is the same as racism. My point was that people were Rah Rah Rah about US freedom at a time when segregation was legal and lynching was common. I fear that nationalism allowed people to overlook problems in the US, and nationalism in other countries has done the same. Rather than saying “my country is the best” I’d like to say, “how can my country be better?”” I’ll leave it there.
This is probably a dead thread, but just for the record, in my second post I made it clear that I don’t equate nationalism with racism, and once I had made that point, I didn’t think I needed to say so again. So it didn’t take 6 posts and 36 hours. It took two posts.
I will happily give a straight answer to that question: no, I don’t think that nationalism is the same as racism. As it happens, racism is one of the central sins of US nationalism, but there are other sins, such as religious exclusivity. What bothers me about nationalism is included in the definition I quoted above: "a sense of national consciousness (see consciousness sense 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.” A US nationalist then exalts the US above all others, and for me the racism of US society makes it impossible for me to exalt it above all others. I think that’s not a good thing to do. It leads to trouble. I think that at this point in history particularly we need to be internationalists. (By the way, up here in Canada, nationalism means something a little different, because there are two founding nations—as well as other nations, such as the First Nations. In Quebec, if you’re a nationalist, it’s French Canada you exalt, not Canada as a whole.)
Just to continue the point. I grew up in the 1950s, in the segregated south. The town I lived in was about a third black. The school I went to was 100% white, and there was another school that was 100% black. We didn’t live in a violent area, partly because the black population in our area “knew their place”, but in other places not far away there was a lot of violence against blacks at the time, and of course we all knew about it. Economic and educational opportunities for blacks were pretty restricted. The general atmosphere of racism was pervasive. On the news at night we saw white mobs keeping black kids out of school. We saw people getting beaten for trying to sit at a lunch counter. A little later we saw people beaten for trying to vote. We saw Medger Evers get shot. We found out when the bodies of Schwerner, Cheney, and Goodman were found. And at school we were taught that the US was the land of Freedom. I couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy. Should Emmet Till have said that the US was the greatest country on earth? Or all the nameless victims of lynching over the years? Should I, as a white person, have said, oh, it’s okay, the US is stopping communism, the lynchings don’t matter. That’s what nationalism would have wanted me to do, and I couldn’t do it.
Trump refuses to answer questions that are in English. He never learned the language.
If person A and person B and person C, from different countries, each say that their country is the best, then two of them at least are deluded. I would rather not be deluded. The chances are that none of them is reasoning based on evidence. I would rather look at the evidence. There were certainly people in Germany in the 1930s who did not go along with Hitler; in my view they were heroic. There were people in the US in the 1950s who did not go along with segregation. In my view they were heroes. I don’t mean to say that everything about the US was bad. Far from it. The US has always had many good qualities. But the kind of racism that was prevalent in the US at the time kept it from a position of moral superiority. I thought so at the time, and I continue to think so.
If I had been a German citizen back in the mid-1930s, I hope I would not have said that Germany was the best nation on earth. It was a racist nation. Back in the 1950s, the US was a racist nation. Should I have said it was the best nation on earth?
I was actually trying to have a discussion rather than start a fight. That’s why I used language such as “the problem could be”, to leave room for polite difference of opinion. Your complaint that my argument is “semantics” is kind of funny when we’re talking about what words mean. Last I checked, that’s semantics. And I never said that nationalism is the same as racism. My point was that people were Rah Rah Rah about US freedom at a time when segregation was legal and lynching was common. I fear that nationalism allowed people to overlook problems in the US, and nationalism in other countries has done the same. Rather than saying “my country is the best” I’d like to say, “how can my country be better?”
Yes, words do have meanings. Here’s what Merriam Webster says “nationalism” means: “loyalty and devotion to a nation, especially : a sense of national consciousness (see consciousness sense 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.” So it’s not just placing the welfare of your country first, it’s thinking that your country is better than others. The problem could be that nationalism could lead people to excuse the faults of their country and refuse to learn from the experiences of other countries. I have dual citizenship, so there’s no way I can exalt one country above all others. I remember when I was a child in the US back in the 1950s, there was a lot of talk about how the US was the land of the free—in a segregated school.
Haven’t you heard about the caravan of trees heading for the border?