In a statement even more explicit than his declaration that the torch-wielding neo-Nazi mob at Charlottesville contained “some very fine people,” Donald Trump appeared at a Ted Cruz rally on Monday night to embrace the labels of “nationalist.” And to ward off the inevitable “He didn’t mean it that way” defense that was sure to be launched on Tuesday morning, Trump made sure everyone knew that he did mean it that way. Very much so.
Trump: You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I am a nationalist. Use that word.
In response, the Houston crowd roared back a chant of “USA! USA!” A chilling coda. Because when Trump says that the word is “old fashioned” he means it fell out of fashion with World War II, where 418,000 men and women of USA, USA died fighting that poisonous philosophy of self-satisfied hatred.
Nationalism is not patriotism, though it hides behind the same flag-waving sentiment. Nationalism is jingoism, that distorts patriotism into aggression and anger and “don’t you dare kneel.”
Nationalism is xenophobia, that says it is okay to deny rights to the other, whether that other is defined by race, religion, or gender identity. That says it is okay to cage children. Or imprison without trial. Or worse.
Nationalism is chauvinism, that says the idea of equality by gender, race, or social class is a lie. It doesn’t seek to address the wrongs of the past, because it doesn’t believe they were wrong.
"Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first." – Charles de Gaulle
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) October 23, 2018
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