Nationalism is dumb.
Oh, sure, I’m all for apple pie and the Star Spangled banner, fireworks, and hot dogs on Independence Day – but the racism, xenophobia, and outright bullshit are a deal-breaker for me.
Just to be clear, the “nationalism” I’m talking about is the Webster’s variety, or:
Nationalism (noun): “A feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries.“
Emphasis mine, of course.
See, you can justify a lot of crazy things by throwing the word “patriot” around. Don’t like Muslims, refugees, or the LGBTQ+ crowd? Well, you’re not prejudiced, you’re patriotic.
Tired of feeling bad about being a white male, constantly put down by all the brown people in society and their liberal, Marxist policies? They may call you a bigot, but deep down in your heart, you know you’re really just a God-fearing patriot.
Think everything will be fine with America as long as women can’t get abortions and students aren’t allowed to learn about climate change in schools? Don’t worry, you’re not an idiot, you’re just a concerned, hard-working, American patriot.
That’s really what nationalism is about, right? If you believe your culture, your nation, is really better than everyone and everything else, you should be a good little patriot, fighting against all other ideologies and calling people “cuck” in the comments section.
I realize I’m being a little dramatic, but allow me to support my point of view with some facts.
Nationalism is Trendy, and Nationalist Groups are Popping up Like Weeds
It would be hard to miss the constant bleating of the Bullshitter-In-Chief, or the rhetoric machine cranked up by the far-right these days. While it’s tempting to blame Donald Trump, the real problem has been a constant and growing concern for years now.
The Southern Poverty Law Center actively tracks the numbers for various hate groups in the United States. By their definition, hate groups have, “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” This can be anything from the KKK, to that group of old Baby Boomers who meet at the Legion hall and bitch about Sharia law undermining western values.
As of now, there are 917 active hate groups in the United States. That’s down from the peak in 2011 at 1,018, but a significant increase since 2014, when the number dipped down 784. 130 of these groups are chapters of the KKK, and 193 are black separatist groups, just to give an idea of what that ‘917’ means.
The SPLC keeps a full map of hate groups across the country, which I strongly encourage everyone to check out. But the real kicker for me is that of the 917 groups listed, 663 are considered, “anti-government ‘patriot’ groups.”
These groups are spread all over the country; Alaska and Hawaii are the only states that don’t show any activity on the map, but this is likely an error of omission rather than proof that no such activity exists. California has almost 80 hate groups, while even my home state of Fuck-Off-In-The-Middle-Of-Nowhere Idaho has 12.
That example I gave before, about crotchety old people complaining at the Legion hall? Even that’s not an exaggeration – I based it on Idaho ACT for America, which has two chapters, and is itself part of the larger “ACT for America” organization.
Even college and universities, stereotyped as strongholds of liberalism, aren’t protected from the sewage-laden tide of nationalism.
For months, if not longer, white supremacist and nationalist groups, i.e. groups on the ‘Richard Spencer’ end of the political spectrum, have been recruiting on college campuses, and the rhetoric has been chilling. CNN had a story just last month about this – watch their video, and listen to the people they interview.
These people – these nationalists – don’t think of themselves as hate groups. They think of themselves as the oppressed, as the downtrodden, as defenders of American values and the white, Christian way of life.
Seriously. Watch the CNN video.
“We are being replaced in our own country,” Nathan Damigo, the founder of Identity Europa, said. In his mind, and in the minds of people like him, they’re not attacking other people, they’re just opposing the false narrative of contemporary society! They’re not spewing propaganda, they’re just providing alternative facts!
These groups are everywhere, by the way. This was put up all over my local university campus just today:
And that’s the second time this group has posted fliers. At least in our case, students immediately showed opposition by tearing down the fliers, and even posting anti-fascist fliers of their own – but don’t make the mistake of thinking these are isolated incidents, or that you’re far removed from it because the incident you just read about happened hundreds of miles away. Nationalism is trendy these days, and it’s probably not hard to find in your own town.
Resistance Is NOT Futile
Honestly, I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why these so-called nationalist groups and the values they represent are a problem. If you’ve paid attention in history class, you know all about how the Nazis rose to power, you know all about the rhetoric used against Japanese-Americans during WWII, and you don’t need me to tell you about the humanitarian disasters caused by Manifest Destiny.
If you understand that history, you know that the American dream isn’t a given – it has to be periodically upheld and fought for, and the people who would willfully pull us backward must be resisted at all costs.
I don’t have all the answers. Maybe it’s better to protest, or to write to Congress, or to form organizations of our own. Or maybe you can do what these counter-protesters did in Dallas:
I’m not advocating violence, of any sort. But you do have a legal right to protest, and a legal right to bear arms – as far as I’m concerned, if you’re doing anything, as long as you’re doing it legally, you’re fine, and we should be doing everything we legally can do to stand up for our rights and the rights of others.
The nationalism genie may not go back in the bottle – but we can sure as hell make him regret coming out.