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On Veterans Day this year, we celebrate 100 years since the Armistice that ended World War I. America's European allies gathered in Paris this past weekend to honor and thank our fallen soldiers, those who lie forever on European soil after defeating Germany in 1918. It was the war that was supposed to end all world wars, but only two decades later America would once again send thousands of soldiers to fight, and to die, to rescue Europe from the Nazi menace.
This year's anniversary was a special remembrance—a time to remember what unites us, what has helped to keep the relative peace since World War II—now nearly 75 years since the end of WWII. Instead the current U.S. President, who is supposed to be Commander-in-Chief of American troops, chose not to attend a ceremony honoring the fallen at a U.S. cemetery just outside of France.
In the weeks since Trump declared that he is a “nationalist” before a screaming throng of his ardent supporters, that term has bled through to the mainstream. The legitimate press has adopted the term, now calling Trump and his supporters “nationalists.”
Nationalism in this context is just a sanitized word for white supremacy and it is dangerous. At the remembrance, it was the French President Emmanuel Macron—not the U.S. President—who spoke for the American people with American values in the face of a rising tide of fascism sweeping across Europe and emboldened by the current U.S. President.
"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is its betrayal." - Emmanuel Macron, President of France
Patriotism is our nationalism.
In America, nationalism does not work. Nationalism has worked in Europe because those countries are separated by language, cultures, and history. Frenchmen and women have a distinct cultural identity, just like Germans, just like Italians, just like Greeks.
Only Native Americans can claim to be indigenous to the United States. The rest of us all came from somewhere else. What binds us together is not the land that we live on, but the creed to which we all subscribe to: The U.S. Constitution.
We all bind ourselves to the rule of law—the governed and our elected governors alike. We are bound by a national identity based on the ideals of fairness, equality, freedom, and the rule of law. Our nationalism is patriotism. It is loyalty to more than a flag. It is loyalty to the ideals that which we stand for in its truest sense.
Instead of adopting the sanitized language that Trump and his racist supporters would prefer, journalists and the media need to call it what it is. There is no such thing as nationalism in America. When they call themselves “nationalists,” they mean white supremacists.
Their ideals are antithetical to the ideals of the U.S. Constitution, and therefore, should be called out. Do not give them cover. Do let them whitewash their true message. Turn this into a teachable moment where we once again affirm what we truly stand for and who we really are.
Do not be afraid to report what they are really saying. They are saying that they want to take this country back to a time when white supremacy was the law of the land. That’s something that every American should reject.