In the US why is nationalism equated with racism?

  • From Wikipedia:

    There are various definitions for what constitutes a nation, however, which leads to several different strands of nationalism. It can be a belief that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic, cultural, religious, or identity group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities.

    I have read in other questions, answers and comments the default assumption that everyone knows that nationalism is evil, racist and sometimes a synonym for Nazism. Similar to Jingoism, it appears that Nationalism is equated with the worst of American Culture.

    I am a non-white naturalized citizen of the US, I have served in the Marine Corps and I have nothing but praise for the country that has enabled me to live a comfortable and important life. As a result I agree with the President's "America First" message, since I know that the other countries also believe that. I have no issue with the Wikipedia definition personally, but the label nationalism has been tainted.

    What makes Nationalism (as in "my nation is the best") bad?

    Are you talking about *Nationalism* or *White Nationalism*? I've seen a few people comment on *White Nationalism*, but not on *Nationalism* (those terms are not the same!)

    @Carpetsmoker I think it's problematic to suggest that ethnic nationalism is somehow confined only to "whites".

    I'm not sure it is, broadly speaking. On the other hand, *white* nationalism certainly is...mainly because it's a "wink wink" way of saying "white supremacist"...of which the US has a long history with.

    @Carpetsmoker Why do you automatically assume that OP is talking about White Nationalism?

    I think that my confusion of the term is personal, the question is that I don't understand, so I think my personal statement is the evidence of why I don't understand. Therefore, I don't think you who are answering are confused by the term.

    @FrankCedeno `but the label nationalism has been tainted.` Has it? In the United States and Europe, yes. China is very proud to be China. Russia is very proud to be Russia. Powers are shifting. What you're seeing is a Western phenomena.

    @DylanCzenski I didn't assume anything ("automatically" or otherwise), but I have not seen any discussions where people called "nationalism" racist or equal to Nazi-ism, but have seen it for White Nationalism. So just making sure it's clear what the question is about.

    " since I know that the other countries also believe that.". Countries do not believe anything. people do. And I for one do not think my country is superior to any other or needs to come first. *People* - all people - have to come first, always, no matter who they are or where they were born (which is only incidental anyways). So the premise of your question seems to stem from a misunderstanding about what "countries" actually do believe, and yeah, nationalism is a tainted word almost everywhere on the world. Furthermore, what you are describing is *patriotism* (proudness of own country).

    @FalseHooHa Can countries as a whole be “proud” of themselves? Your examples of Russia and China are also examples of countries, where nationalism is state sponsored and is widely used to silence domestic political opponents (e.g. by linking them to foreign interests) and to turn attention away from pressing domestic problems. Also, despite both countries having a multiethnic population, their political culture is defined by some sort of ethnic nationalism of predominant parts of their respective population.

    Removed a number of comments that attempted to answer the question. That is _not_ what comments are for. If you have an answer, then post it as such.

    Maybe interesting to note that _nation_ does not have to refer to a country. Many countries today are based on the idea of the _nation-state_, roughly meaning a people (nation) running a country (state). So etymologically, _nationalism_ refers to a people, not to a country - which makes the link with race (often confounded with people) even etymologically plausible.

    @FrankCedeno There is an article "Racism and Nationalism" in the journal *Nations and Nationalism* Volume 1, Issue 2, July 1995, Pages 163–173 Unfortunately I don't have full text access.

    I've once heard a nice statement that you might want to think about. _A patriot is a person that loves his country, a nationalist is a person that dispises other countires_. The difference is the viewing point. Wanting your own country to thrive is nothing bad. Wanting it so badly that others will suffer for it is...

    @lejonet `where nationalism is state sponsored and is widely used to silence domestic political opponents (e.g. by linking them to foreign interests) and to turn attention away from pressing domestic problems` sounds familiar...

    Nazi party is short for National Socialist German Workers party. So is it so surprising that people connect Nationalism with Nazism?

    @icc97: Yes, it is surprising that people associate Nationalism more than Socialism with Nazi. In the first case, they share a root but are quite different words (that is, statistically, most usage of the word "National" such as in "National Basketball Association" does not mean "Nationalist", which is the corresponding part of speech). In the second case, they are two different parts of speech for the exact same word.

    @BenVoigt the NBA is not a political institution. The 'National' from 'National Socialist' means 'Nationalist'. People associate Nationalism with Nazis because most of the harm that the Nazis did was driven by Nationalism not by Socialism.

    It's not just in the US. I invite you to research the controversial statements of any one of these nationalist parties in Europe.

    It is worth comparing the Scottish National Party (not typically reffered to as racist) with the British National Party (very often referred to as racist)

    I don't think your premise holds water.

    @BenVoigt You're saying Socialism is just another word for Nazi? That interpretation is very ... uncommon...

    @Chris: Actually, the person who translated the name into English is saying that. Take a closer look: "National **Socialist** German Workers party"

    @BenVoigt: So you could say Nazi is just another word for German. Take a closer look: "National Socialist **German** Workers party" (I hope you see the sarcasm in my comment. )

    @Chris: That also would be more valid than saying Nazi is another word for "Nationalist", based on the translation. Fact is, none of these "connections" mean anything, so you should direct your ire to icc97 who started it.

  • James K

    James K Correct answer

    4 years ago

    There are various forms of "Nationalism", but one prevalent belief is that "My Nation is better than others". Racism can be broadly understood to be the belief that "My race is better than others". Given how close these ideas are, it isn't surprising that there are many nationalists who are also racist.

    This is particularly the case for the so-called "white nationalists" who believe that "white people" form a nation. Their nationalist beliefs are explicitly racist.

    This doesn't mean that all forms of Nationalism are necessarily racist. Some forms of Nationalism don't believe that "My nation is better" but instead "My nation should have its own government". Thus Nicola Sturgeon is a nationalist, but not a racist. On the other hand, the BNP in the UK is both Nationalist and Racist (According to BNP founder John Tyndall, "The BNP is a racial nationalist party which believes in Britain for the British, that is to say racial separatism.")

    The notion of "nation" as it applies to America is tricky. Nationalists in Europe are often opposed to immigration, but the majority of Americans are descended from immigrants. Nationalists, therefore, seek another way to distinguish "Us" from "them", and use race and language as a proxy for nation. And so especially in America are nationalists equated to racists, simply because many nationalists in America are racist.

    I changed the question so that everyone knows that the form of nationalism I want to know about is: My Nation is the best

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

    To extend a little on your first paragraph: the gist of it is that it's a very short step from "my nation is better than others" to "people from my nation are better than others". In the context of the question, that means a shift from "America First" to "Americans First". In general, people seem to use "patriotism" to mean the "my nation" version, and "nationalism" to mean the kind where there are aspects of "people from my nation" mixed in. Whether that's accurate or fair is another debate; that's just how people tend to use the terms.

    @FrankCedeno You can't both ask why people equate two words and simultaneously decide to use a different definition of one of the words than most people end up using. It'd be like me asking "Why do people think 'effect' is a noun? btw, I only mean 'effect' as in 'to effect change'."

    @JamesK +1 This is a great answer. However, one critique: I'd change the word "common" in the first sentence to "significant," "prevalent" or "influential." When I initially read it, I thought the answer said that "my nation is better" is a belief **common to most/all nationalists**, rather than a subset of nationalists. The third paragraph disabused me of that interpretation.

    prevalent is a useful word.

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