Are you a Nationalist or a Patriot?

By Gabrielle Renee Seunagal
 
Nationalism is a complex, multidimensional concept involving a shared communal identification with one’s nation. Identity, solidarity, and self determination are the core values of nationalism. The preservation of a nation’s culture, the ability of a nation to self govern, and close links to patriotism are characteristics of nationalism. Nationalism is not inherently evil, but it can turn dark very easily. This ideology must be practiced very carefully, if at all.
Nationalism has the ability to spark feelings of love and devotion to one’s country, which can result in one supporting a strong military and careful screening of those who wish to enter our country. After all, a defenseless nation with no vetting procedures is a blueprint for trouble. Many conservative policies have nationalistic roots, which is great. Legal immigration and national security protocols will shield the country from exterior threats.

Moreover, nationalism is capable of breeding unity. In certain instances, nationalism brings people together, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, in the spirit of love for the nation. As Americans, we should all want what is best for the country. Everyone wins and a united front will always overpower a front that is plagued by division.
For every merit of nationalism, there are two or three demerits. Nationalism is easily morphed from a close cousin of patriotism to a malevolent manifestation of extremism. Unfortunately, nationalism has been twisted into forms of racism such as black nationalism and white nationalism. Both of these doctrines promote racial division and separatism. Black nationalism promotes segregation and desires “black only states.” White nationalism draws its philosophies from Nazism and racial supremacy. White nationalists believe non white immigrants (regardless of legal status) are a threat to the white race and often label other races as intellectually and morally inferior. Both of these forms of nationalism are dangerous and directly conflict with American values.

Fortunately, nationalism is not the only credence for loving one’s country. There are more agreeable alternatives, like patriotism. Patriotism is an attachment to ones homeland. A fine example of a patriotic American is President Donald Trump. Throughout his Inaugural Address, he spoke with admirable love and pride for the country. He described his strategies of restoring jobs, enforcing legal immigration, and repealing Obamacare. All of these practices prioritize the needs of the country and the American people, which is a fine application of patriotism. President Trump boldly proclaimed that whether you are black, brown, or white, we all bleed red. These beliefs embody patriotism and leave no room for discrimination, unlike nationalism.
In the end, the pitfalls of nationalism overpower the advantages. Nationalism can inspire unity and American pride, but often breeds separatism, segregation, and racism. Obviously, all nationalists are not bad, but the nature of the philosophy treads on a very fine line. Nationalism is merely the gateway drug to more insidious philosophies. Patriotism is the ideal doctrine for citizens who love and believe in their country. Patriotism focuses on the prosperity and greatness of the American people, leaving no room for hatred or division.