It is more than slightly concerning that so many who support Donald Trump think it’s okay for him to call himself a “nationalist” as he did at the rally for Ted Cruz in Houston, Texas. In getting replies on Twitter, it seems that many equate nationalism with patriotism.
Patriotism is the support of one’s country. Nationalism is an extreme form of patriotism, and that is not a good thing. It means supporting one’s nation despite what it is doing. It is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany after the Great Depression and leading up to World War II. It is a word filled with hatred and fear. It is a word that has been adopted by the vilest in the country — white nationalists. So, when Trump openly, and proudly, admits to being a nationalist, not only should we be concerned, we should be revolted.
Trump is doing exactly what Adolf Hitler did in Germany. And no, this isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t just saying someone I don’t like is Hitler. This is stating a fact backed up by historical evidence.
In an online essay from Mt. Holyoke, it is written:
“German nationalism that began to develop before World War II was a major motivation behind many individuals who joined the Nazi Party. Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party, used his profound oratory skills to manipulate the German people into following his regime’s propaganda. The people were looking for something to improve the economic situation caused by the depression. The Nazi Party had a great propensity to purvey “mythical nationalist beliefs”; in 1933, they began deliberately blaming the Jewish population for the economic disparity in Germany.”
Sound familiar? A bombastic leader using propaganda and economic anxiety to blame specific minority populations? Well, it should sound familiar, because that’s exactly what Donald Trump is doing today. He’s been blaming immigrant and varying minority populations for the plight of the nation overall. He’s been riling up his base with a hatred of the media who tells the truth, so he can dictate the conversation to sell his own messaging. Hitler did the same thing, calling the media “ Lügenpresse” — or, lying press, and then gave the messaging he wanted the people of Germany to believe.
Hitler also made sure the people of Germany felt grateful for him and their government and the economic security that was being provided after the Great Depression, and that it was not to be damaged by these minority groups. Trump is doing the exact same thing in nearly every speech and tweet — boasting about the economy and leading his followers to believe it could be snatched away in an instant by others.
The Mt. Holyoke essay continues:
“In a state of ubiquitous anxiety, the once disjointed Germans unified under a government that provided comfort and security, a new state that would take control and help Germany become a rising hegemonic power. This newfound nationalism was built around a common enemy: the Jewish people. The people were blinded by these newly instilled nationalist beliefs, coerced by their superiors to believe that the Nazi way was the right way. The government was telling the people to represent and preserve national interest first and foremost. Simultaneously, the people were told that the Jewish citizens were threatening this national security. Some perpetrators knew exactly what evil they were doing during the Holocaust; on the other hand, other individuals were just nationalistic pawns of the Nazi Party that were so programmed to operate for the state and its interests… The Holocaust happened in large part because an over-powering government took advantage of a weak people who just wanted to be provided with direction during a time of disparity. The people followed their government whole-heartedly because their faith in their previous government, the government where they had lost their possessions and valuables, had been compromised.”
Nationalism lead to the Holocaust. It is historical fact.
When Donald Trump, who has already shown how bigoted he his on countless occasions in speeches and even in policy moves, calls himself a nationalist, we should not only take notice but use it as a catalyst to further resist any and all of Trump’s efforts to destroy progress and diversity in the United States and protect minority groups now more than ever before.
Nationalism is not patriotism and it is nothing to be proud of. We need to wake up before it’s too late. History cannot repeat itself. Not today. Not ever.
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” ~ Charles de Gaulle, 1969