Nationalism tends to conjure up negative ideas, as in patriotism gone all wrong, and eventually kinder, kuche, and kirche, and people saluting the fatherland. In truth however, nationalism simply means “loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness.”
Something I stubbornly insist on, America has a national identity, a national consciousness. We are a tribe. It’s a tough concept to explain to others because we are like fish in water and cannot see what is all around us. We are so used to it, that attempting to define it is challenging. America is also diverse, the blending of many cultures all wrapped up in idealism and shared values, but ideals that do not always manifest themselves in the real world. From the old comic books, we believe in “truth, justice, and the American way,” but often after the fact, after truth and justice have been so mangled, “the American way” had to kick in and right the wrongs. So ideals, even ideals not yet manifested, are a part of national identity.
To try to pin down our national identity can be like trying to nail jello to the wall, it cuts across culture, race, and geography, and Americans can be diverse, so like herding cats if you’re trying to get us all on the same page. That tendency to be defiant, obstinate, and refusing to fall in line with one another is actually a part of our national identity. Irreverence for our leaders, irreverence for others telling us what to do. That’s one of the hallmarks of freedom and a marker of our national identity.
People from other countries can spot us right away. People can expat and begin to fit in, but if you are an American traveling, it doesn’t matter what you look like, everyone knows you are an American. I once met some Americans in Canada, practically wearing the Canadian flag, and yet I knew instantly those were Americans. We had coffee, yet another American thing to do in the land of tea houses, and I soon discovered that they were indeed Americans attempting to become Canadians. Canadians can be quite lovely, so that isn’t my point at all, but the instant recognition of “tribe,” of American nationalism, brought complete strangers together with some sentimentality.
I once got to take two black girls from Quebec around the city, and it was somewhat funny because they were so NOT American. For one they were charming, respectful, and polite. They also spoke French, so their English was barely there. They were bubbly teen age girls, so fashion, music, pop culture, 24/7, but not any fashion, music, or pop culture that I could recognize. Culture, national identity, these things are not racial identities at all, people are heavily influenced by where they live, what belief systems they hold, how they perceive themselves.
I remember a couple of college girls who went to France for spring break, got pulled over by the cops and wound up in jail. They didn’t really do anything wrong, except forget that they were in another country. They did what many do in America, informed the cops that they had rights. It’s somewhat comical, but they managed to break several French laws in the process. Apparently you don’t inform French cops of your American “rights.” That American committment to “our rights” is yet another marker of American nationalism.
In America right now there are people very uncomfortable with the idea of a national identity, just as there are people uncomfortable with the idea of gender identity, as if we shouldn’t try to pin such things down because it creates inequality. To simply recognize that American national identity is a real thing, causes many to instantly conclude that you are saying America is superior, better than all others. The problem is that loyalty and devotion to a nation, requires you to do just that, in one layer of thinking anyway. If you love and protect your family for example, you do not approach it from the perspective of all things are equal, as if to say my husband is not special, my kids are not cute, my loyalty and devotion to my family is not acceptable, because to believe such things is to promote inequality in the world. My family is not special, they have no more worth and value to me than any other family, may work on a philosophical level, but in a practical sense, you better believe my own family comes first.
Approaching our own national identity in that same way would be insane, it would force us into the position of constantly apologizing for our existence,and forever handing the keys to our own homes over to whomever we have deemed more worthy or less worthy to have them. If we have a national identity, an American consciousness, and recognize that as a sacred trust, we will work towards protecting our own interests. It is not wrong to protect our own interests, in the sense that those same interests are what lead people to be drawn towards our country in the first place, some even risking their lives trying to get here.
When I first started marriage blogging there was kind of this relentless march against me, you can’t say that, you’re making divorced people feel bad. Than I was making single people feel bad. Than along came the red pills. Then the MGTOW’s. I really had to come to terms with the fact that what I was saying really was that a happy, long-term marriage was a vastly superior ideal, not designed to make anybody feel inferior or unequal, but an ideal and standard worthy of preserving, worth unapologetically standing up for. No, all things are not equal. Some life situations are simply less desirable than others.
The same is true about our country. We have a national identity, an American consciousness, and it is worthy of protecting and standing up for. What it is exactly is hard to pin down, but declaring it doesn’t exist or that it’s shameful to have it, is the epitome of insanity.