Opinion: Yes, Nationalism Is Still Dangerous


Ella Adams, Managing Editor

The rise of the American far-right has been directly fueled by nationalism. Extremists have been particularly egged on by former President Trump’s nationalist rhetoric. His claims of American exceptionalism, blaming crime on minorities and immigrants, and many more unfounded nationalist statements add fuel to the fire of white supremacy. The Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was an accumulation of the growing nationalist sentiment in the U.S. What’s concerning about far-right nationalism is how mainstream it’s become, partly thanks to Trump’s treatment of American politics like show business. 

Let’s be clear. Nationalism is not harmless patriotism. Patriotism is being proud of your country; nationalism is the belief in national, racial and cultural supremacy over others. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they absolutely are not the same. Mainstream nationalism is one of the first red flags of fascism, a political ideology that emphasizes authoritarian government, disdain for democracy, social hierarchy usually based on race, and the suppression of individual interests for the good of the nation. Nationalism, control and criticism of the media, questioning the integrity of American democracy, targeting minorities and dissidents, sexism and a rigid system of crime and punishment are examples of the 14 characteristics of fascism by Lawrence Britt that former President Trump’s administration displayed. 

Rampant nationalism is not a far cry from more extreme ideologies. The Capitol rioters are a prime example. There were white supremacists and neo-Nazi’s in the crowd. Extremism has become normalized through mainstream nationalism.

Social media has been a very useful tool for extremist groups to reach and spread their ideologies to the masses and prey on vulnerable people. Far-right organizations specifically target young, white boys through Youtube, Reddit and other Internet platforms popular among that demographic. Nationalism makes people blind to negative aspects of their nation. Systematic racism, poverty, lack of affordable healthcare and extreme student debt are all prominent and very serious issues that we can’t fix without acknowledging our country’s failures. The idea that the U.S. is the superior nation that can do no wrong is alarming. People like Trump come into power by telling his followers what they want to hear, true or not. Let’s not let theatrics cloud the facts: last year’s presidential election: it was free and fair. 

It was not a protest at the Capitol on Jan. 6. It was an insurrection. This is what nationalism does. It tears down democracies through lies, ignorance and hate. Yeah, it is dangerous.