On American Nationalism

Where as the majority of nationalisms are founded upon a belief in ethnic or cultural superiority; the American Nationalist believes in the superiority of our political ideal. This would make sense, as we feel a great deal of pride in our nation's cultural and ethnic diversity. America is the great "melting pot", so the cliche goes... Thus, George W. Bush's claim that Bin Laden attacked us because he "hated freedom", provides the prototypical example of American Nationalism. Ironically, while America is among the most nationalistic of all countries, it does not see itself as such. Indeed, this belief is seen as far back as our declaration of independence, "we hold these truths to be self-evident..." So it is with the "truths" of the American Nationalist.Among western democracies, Americans show the greatest degree of pride in their nationality. A world values survey showed that 70% percent of Americans declared themselves "Very proud" of their nationality. In contrast, less than half of the English, French, Germans, Danish, or Dutch felt "very proud" of their nationality.A 2001 Pew Global Attitudes Survey show that 79 percent of Americans felt that it was a good that American ideas and customs are spreading across the planet. Yet, less than 40 percent of respondents from other Western Democracies agreed. Furthermore, less than half even liked American ideas about Democracy. Yet an American Nationalist does not see such opinions as being legitimate. On the contrary, he'd probably either accuse them of being "French", or "anti-American"; and to him, to be anti-American, is to be against "universal" values.The majority of Americans would be offended that I'd make the above statement. One cannot blame them. Unlike other countries, the majority of nationalistic behavior among Americans is voluntary. There are no laws that demand that private business fly American flags. Our pledge of allegiance is not mandated, and was in fact standardized because of the efforts of private associations lobbying congress. Frankly, the biggest champions of American Nationalism are generally little old ladies, in hideous red, white, and blue moo-moos who join leagues such as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Ironic.From my description thus far, it might seem that American Nationalism is mostly a benevolent creature -- "a dumb puppy with sharp teeth", as Johnny Depp said. Nothing could be farther from the case. American Nationalism should be rightfully ranked as being among the most dangerous forces in the world.For one, although the United States inherited a great deal of its knowledge and opportunity from its European roots, its people did not share in the catastrophes of the two world wars. Though, many Americans fought bravely, and died in the fields of Europe; the majority of Amercians were removed from the true horrors of the war. The fire bombings, the gas attacks, the rounding up of the Jews, the holocaust, the trenches... Nothing comparable has ever happened on American soil. Europe is largely post-nationalist in this age, and the Great Wars take full credit.Americans often wonder why the rest of the world hates them. Allow me to settle this question with a snipit from Washington Post's right-wing op/ed columnist Charles Krauthammer. Indeed, this arrogant trash reads like a satire of American nationalist arrogance:
The world apparently likes the US when it is on its knees. From that the Democrats deduce a foreign policy - remain on our knees, humble and supplicant, and enjoy the applause and 'support' of the world... The search for logic in anti-Americanism is fruitless. It is in the air the world breathes. Its roots are envy and self-loathing - by peoples who, yearning for modernity but having failed at it, find their one satisfaction in despising modernity's great exemplar. On 11th September, they gave it a rest for one day. Big deal.
This drivel's intent is fairly clear: To relinquish any responsibility America might have for its actions abroad. This American Nationalist attitude is summed up by Mark Twain's epigram:
The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.

I've realized that this topic is far to large to cover in one post; nevertheless, I do have a few last points: The health of the US economy is no longer a domestic issue. The rest of the world would be wise to remember the historical effects of a falling economy, and fear of the rest of the world. When I say "do not make us any angerier", I mean it -- for your own sake. The majority of the public is feeling lost in these strange times. Foreign hatred does nothing besides reinforce the public's need to cling to their rockets, bombs, and f-15s.

Americans need to remember their unique place in history: Never before has a single nation weilded so much power, wealth, and influence than the United States. I say this not to entertain neo-con fantasies of "empire building", or "an american century". Rather, I'd like to remind a few people of the responsibility they have to America, and the rest of the world. The world is prone to following our example. Do we set an example of pre-emptive war; "do whatever we please cause' we can"? Or, do we show the rest of the world that there actually might -- in fact -- be substance behind our rhetoric of freedom, justice, and opportunity? Americans should think very carefully about that question.