We live in a world that wants us to fear. Americans are taught to fear the foreigner because they threaten American values. Ultimately, the threat to these values equates to a threat to American global dominance.
Nationalism inspires ethnocentrism, and ignites xenophobia. The definition of nationalism begins with patriotism, but quickly becomes perverse.
Embracing nationalism is essentially ethnocentrism, as both terms place emphasis on a singular ideology that oppresses its challenger. Selecting a single national identity naturally suppresses cultural diversity. The movement from ethnocentrism to xenophobic is seen so clearly, as we have Americans in support of building a wall on our southern border.
Nationalism is a divisive term that ostracizes the xenos, or stranger. It tells us not just those included, but also, by consequence, those who will be excluded.
The danger lies in the singular credence of who is a native and who is a foreigner. How does a nation of immigrants have a singularly constructed identity? How can diversity exist if burdened by restraining qualifiers?
The violence and anti-Semitic ambitions from the past have coated the term with remnants of hurtful memories. Using this word today only displays ignorance to these historical roots, as well as blatantly disrespects those that have inherited a family history victimized by the extremist ideology. Words have a life beyond their explicit definition, and rhetoric that is charged with hate will only precipitate more hate.
Let it be stated clearly: nationalism is not patriotism. Encountering the xenos is the opportunity of hospitality—the moment of demarcation between the nationalist and the patriot. The nationalist will reject the xenos due to the fear they’ve been fed. The patriot, however, will welcome the xenos because embracing diversity is a fundamental American value.
It is the patriot that warns us to fear the architect of our fear—the builder of The Wall. Americans: do not fear the loss of your identity. Fear disavowing your original oath. Be terrified by the depreciation of your values. Fear that your country cowards in isolationism and no longer welcomes those seeking life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Be afraid America, not of the foreigner, but of the deterioration of everything that made you great.
A true patriot defends values, not the etiolated and misguided pride of identity. The patriot is willing to die, not by the sword of a foreign power, but by the execution of it’s commander and chief. The patriot will stand ready to defend and will never hesitate to take a knee for the purpose of illustrating the true threat to our nation.
By: Elle Baez is a Senior International Studies Major