Throughout this presidential campaign we’ve heard many liberals, elitists, and neo-conservatives carp against the nationalism espoused by Donald Trump and condemn how nationalism continues to resonate among tens of millions of regular Americans. Elitists and media messengers likewise express horror when Mr. Trump announces that in all matters, be they domestic or foreign, his policy and attitude will be “America first.”
Why is loving one’s nation and putting its countrymen first, which is the definition of nationalism, so offensive to liberals, elitists, and neo-conservatives? Why are those who imbibe the natural love and preference of citizen toward country and countrymen immediately scorned and accused of harboring xenophobia? It is because the concept of nationalism is disdained by today’s political liberal.
Currently, liberals own our political and social vocabulary, defining terms in a crusade to dictate to us what is considered acceptable thinking and allowable behavior. Political leftism, which is today’s dominant variant of liberalism, disdains distinctiveness and yearns for a universalism leveling everything as the same – be it in sexual conduct, values, morality, religion, or country. Nothing riles liberals more than nationalism, which places a preference for one’s country and its unique ideals and traditions over another country.
Nationalism is the foremost obstacle standing in the way of socialism and global trans-nationalism, wherein nations purposely shed their identity and lose their distinctiveness in favor of a bland, non-distinct shell and core. Accordingly, the concept of nationalism leaves the academic and media gate already maligned, a type of taboo for those wishing to be members in the “enlightened” club.
Moreover, decrying nationalism is becoming a facile way for liberals to impugn the motives and integrity of those who love our historic American ways and are uncomfortable with candidates espousing socialist policies which render us secondary, curtail our liberties, and preach to us about a re-education and sensitivity training not required of others.
But nationalism, especially in a good-willed country like America, is a positive and natural sentiment. When beholding the destruction upon Israel by Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah laments not only the loss of life but the loss of nationhood: “The crown is fallen from our head … The Lord has caused Zion to be forgotten”( Lamentations). Love of nation and place of origin and residence is a fundamental human attachment, as is family. Indifference to nationhood and disparagement of American nationalism is what constitutes abnormality.
Among the populace are elitists who feel morally and socially superior to their countrymen and see themselves as citizens of the world, apart and above the hoi polloi living outside urban beltways. For them, cosmopolitanism over Americanism is a badge of sophistication, a way of displaying a worldlier understanding and taste. Beyond the smugness is a desire to be a member of a ruling class entitled to govern and be well-connected, not to mention the financial benefits that accrue with such membership.
Many of today’s neo-conservatives are former Democrats who became alarmed at liberalism’s excesses. Neo-conservatism distinguishes itself from historic conservatism. While the neo-cons discarded many of their former liberal ideals, their fear of nationalism remained because of German Nazism.
But too many seem unable to distinguish between the toxic nationalism of pre-World War II Europe and what has been the favorable norm and condition here in America. America is not Europe – indeed she was born in rebellion against European attitudes and prejudices. American nationalism is an admirable phenomenon, since it is based on the quintessential American belief of fair play, openness, meritocracy, idealism, and is kept in place generation after generation by an overwhelmingly good willed people who are philo-Semitic and inspired by the Old Testament.
Many among the elites, as well as the neo-cons, do not mingle, socialize, or marry into families of regular Americans and have woven a negative caricature of tens of millions of Americans, which has degenerated over the last few decades into a type of bigotry against their own countrymen, as if they are inferior. It’s a social class thing.
The truth is that Americanism is a valuable and safe form of nationalism, not something to be feared or looked down-upon as an expression of bigotry or the uprising of brutish malcontents. It is patriotism and the natural inclination to love one’s country, and puts the legitimate needs of our people first, especially the right to work for a living and be treated as well as the incoming immigrant.
Nor should we accept the bogus indictment made by the Left which maliciously claims that phrases such as “protecting western values” and “Americanism” are racist code words when, in fact, they embody a respect and deeply emotional tie to a wonderful and successful Judeo-Christian outlook, and to our American heritage.
American nationalism has historically been a necessary component of conservatism. Genuine, historic conservatism, as delineated by Burke and Kirk, requires a specific affinity and national identification with a people itself. Absent that affinity and identification, conservatism simply becomes an economic theory of the right as is socialism a theory on the left, both sharing a detachment from the distinctive cultural aspirations of the people and perpetuation of their heritage.
In redefining conservatism, too many have made nation-building a foreign policy imperative. However, nation building is simply social engineering on a global scale. Our suffering on behalf of nation-building by trying to remake the Middle East has been a flesh and blood suffering. It is time someone announced that America and Americans come first!
Too many in the smug chattering class have accused tens of millions of Americans of being anti-immigrant or xenophobic. But unbridled illegal immigration has endangered many citizens, their property, and their jobs; it portends the entry of terrorists, shariah law, a spread of diseases, and has bankrupted the institutions of smaller communities. Many making the accusations of xenophobia live in rarified societies immune from the consequences of Open Borders and watered-down vetting. For most citizens, however, their concern is rooted in the most profoundly normal and human instinct: the need to protect one’s self and family, which is rational and moral.
It is not white supremacism for people with self-respect to love and admire their background and history, and to defend and be proud of it. In fact, it is normal and healthy.
Transnationalism opposes this and aims to denude each western country of its uniqueness and severely marginalize that segment of the population wishing to preserve and live by the historic values of their country. Transnationalism takes power from a country’s people and imposes laws from above by a global ruling class which treats its country’s patriots as malcontents and second class, unenlightened citizens entitled to fewer freedoms than liberals or preferred minorities.
Leaders such as Obama, Merkel, the bureaucrats and magistrates in The Hague and EU, as well as the Scandinavian leaders, are pushing the transnational polity as the replacement of the sovereign nation state. It is a Universalist and Socialist’s dream come true. It tears from the people their right to determine their country’s future, indeed their own individual destiny.
As uber-multiculturalists these globalist leaders are quickly making a nation’s accommodation to Islam, and the incorporation of Islamic demands and ways, the litmus test of multicultural compliance. Islam is their fast-track tool for transforming western societies and is being catapulted into a religious and cultural stardom above all else.
It is not American nationalism that warrants our alarm, rather transnationalism. In the name of a faux morality and tolerance it seeks to erase the identity, touchstones and values that made us who we are. It imperils our future.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero is the author of Push Back: Reclaiming the American Judeo-Christian Spirit.