Patriotism, Sí, Nationalism, No

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A well-informed scholar recently made an important distinction between  patriotism and nationalism.

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“Nationalism is an ideology that implies that there should be no political differences between inhabitants of a nation,” Dr. Steven Grosby of Clemson University said last weekend at the regional meeting of the Philadelphia Society in Indianapolis. “The founding fathers had different views and visions,” he reminded the audience.

“To be patriotic is not to be equated with an intolerant nationalism,” he argued. “An individual’s patriotism does not preclude other attachments, to one’s religion, for example.”

“Nationalism seeks to suppress these.” Perhaps this is why liberals love the word “national” but cringe at the word “American.”

Grosby is a professor of religion at Clemson. “Nationality is a complicated phenomenon, made even more complicated by current academic fashion,” he said at the Indianapolis meeting.

In another panel at the Philadelphia Society meeting, a Hillsdale College professor offered an interesting take on the idea of “American Exceptionalism.” “It is very recently that ‘American Exceptionalism’ has been used,” Richard Gamble observed. “If it is used to mean that we have superpowers then it is delusional.”

The Philadelphia Society is a group of conservative intellectuals that was formed in the wake of the Goldwater defeat in 1964.