Friday, March 9, 2012

Nationalist America: Old Habits Die Hard

I had an epiphany of sorts today as I was doing my daily reading of the blogosphere.  At Political Realities, Larry wrote an article about whether or not it was right to order a drone strike against an American citizen living as a terrorist in another country.  The concept of the "rule of law," and its subversion was brought up in response to the article.

What is ironic about that is that these same people who mention the concept of "Rule of Law," were the people that were okay with bin Laden being executed without trial.  They are also the same people that are still okay with detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay without trial.  They're the same people that were okay with waterboarding.

At Western Hero, Silverfiddle wrote an article about the hypocrisy of Liberals who decried Rush Limbaugh's distasteful words towards that Fluke girl, while cheering even more distasteful words used by their heroes like Bill Maher.  Damien Charles, a frequenter here at CFGM, made a remark about American conservatives, and he was immediately shot down.  Someone remarked that he doesn't understand our internal workings because he doesn't live here.

What struck me about this is that these same people have offered countless critiques on European society, from her social issues to her economic issues.  And whenever they talk about how screwed up Europe is, they speak as though they live there and truly understand everything that is going on in each individual coutnry.

So what is the explanation for these attitudes?  If it were ignorance it wouldn't be so sad.  It'd be great--somewhat comforting actually--if I could just sit back and say "well they just don't know."  Unfortunately, it's much worse than ignorance: it is willful denial of contradictory truths, probably for the purpose of maintaining the pleasantry of feeling as though they have a grip on reality.

In short, it's Nationalism.

"But Jack, this isn't the 19th Century anymore.  We're not Nationalists!  Nationalism is for Nazis!  It's for imperialist, socialist Europeans, not enlightened egalitarian Americans such as we!"  Let's take a look at this Jeff Foxworthy-style.

If you believe that it's okay to waterboard a foreign national, but it's not okay to waterboard an American citizen, then you might be a Nationalist.

If you believe that it's okay to hold a foreign national in custody without trial, but it's not okay to do that to an American citizen, then you might be a Nationalist.

If you believe that the rights which our government is guaranteed to protect, as spelled out in the Constitution of the United States of America, are only rights that are guaranteed to American citizens, then you might be a Nationalist.

If you believe that America knows best and that you are in a position to somehow understand the world, but the world is not able to understand America, then you might be a Nationalist.

If you believe that America is just plain better than every other country in the world, whether you think it's because we're blessed by God or because of values, you might be a Nationalist.

If you shun another person at the mere mention of America's historical and current faults, calling that person a traitor and questioning his/her patriotism, then you might be a nationalist.


KP said...

Excellent article, Jack. That is worth reading more than once.

Silverfiddle said...

Most people who throw around the term "The Rule of Law" nowadays don't even know what it means, confusing it with following the law.

We didn't break any US laws killing Bin Laden, but we did violate Pakistani sovereignty.

Can you give some specifics on the commentary at my blog so I can rebut (or not). Hopefully it wasn't something I said.

You're dealing in generalities. If you want a clear debate, we need specifics

Jack Camwell said...

The one thing that comes to mind was when Damien made some comment about American conservatives, and FT told him that he couldn't understand because he doesn't live here.

Glad you enjoyed the article KP =)

Silverfiddle said...

And that's nationalistic?

You know we had discussed that earlier, right?

We all acknowledge that all that left, right, conservative, liberal stuff can get mangled in translation.

For example, in Australia, the "Liberals" are conservative.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and thought provoking subject Jack.

I think it does come down to translation and interpretation such as what is a "liberal", what is a "conservative" and it crosses frontiers. The word "nationalist" or "nationalism" brings many images and almost all negative but yet the definition itself does not.

Here is the first paragraph from wiki on "nationalism":

"Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what constitutes a nation, however, which leads to several different strands of nationalism. It can be a belief that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic, cultural, religious, or identity group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities".

In itself there is nothing wrong with being a nationalist until it becomes exclusive to those within the "nation". Once upon a time before migration and freedom of movement became common place, nationalism was taken for granted and a national identity was clearly defined. Now, how do we?

I for one am proud of my heritage of being from Gibraltar, being a UK Citizen and of my maternal Spanish heritage. Though not an issue for you guys over there, I have an issue with the concept of a European Idenity and the diminishing identities of the various European nationalities. I do not consider and reject the idea of a European Nation or National Identity.

From over here, as people keep on pointing out I do not understand America because I am not there, I believe it is important that there remains a strong American Nation and National Idenity, that this identity BECAUSE of the way America was born, should have nothing to do with race or religion but the land and the constitution that formed your country. When people support that, nationalism is just fine. When it gets away from that or becomes exclusive in other ways, it fails.

Just my two bits worth.

Damien Charles