Nationalism and patriotism, two words that originate from a common source and for a large majority of the 18th century existed in accordance with one another. Today however, it is evident that the definitions of the two grow further apart by the day. Nationalism was vital to the birth of our nation, but today nationalist ideology is our country’s biggest vice.
Largely viewed as synonyms, these two words share completely opposite meanings that can’t be boiled down to a simple definition such as good vs. bad. The key fundamental in liberty, patriotism refers to pride in one’s nation-state and a willingness to defend it if necessary. Patriotism is the basis of national independence. Undoubtedly, nationalism and patriotism share an ideology of devotion to one’s country; however, the similarities end there. Nationalism means to give increased importance on unity through cultural background, language, and heritage. Nationalism is an ideology that stems from racist and xenophobic roots and uses patriotism and citizen ignorance to exist in modern day society.
Nationalism is nothing but pride in specific lines drawn on a map, an evil that simplifies the individuals mind to us versus them. Looking at the common US solider for example, the more non-Americans he/she kills, the larger the “Patriotic hero”. To American citizens, the soldier’s devotion to an imperial military machine is not important as long as he was born in the US, joined the US military, and obeyed orders without question. Richman, published author and researcher at The Independence Institute argues that the ugliness of nationalism is perceptible by those who commit it and as a result they resort to abused rationalization methods such as the common “we are fighting for our freedom” and/or “if we don’t kill them, they’ll kill us”.
Reiterating the point above, patriotism is confused with nationalism because the aspect of “looking after one’s own”. The irony behind nationalism comes from within the word itself. What is a nation? Like I mentioned above, a nation can be described as a group of people with shared values, culture, and ideas. But by accepting that definition, any ethnic minority group in the US that shares the components of a nation should be a part of Americas nation, right? Nationalism says no. It’s important to know that nationalism and patriotism are separate ideas and the similarities between the two fall few and far between. It’s completely understandable to love and pride your place of origin but when it calls for hate and resentment of others we need to draw the line. Support your country when it does well and criticize when it doesn’t.