I thought there needed to be a discussion about how people interpreted nationalism as opposed to patriotism after campaigning in the referendum last year. A member of the public did not agree with my views he called me a traitor. This annoyed me as I could not see why I could not be both patriotic and still stay in Europe. I told him that my father, who was shot down over France a month before I was born, could definitely be called a patriot. The recent outburst on twitter by President Trump over the ‘kneeling protests’ by NFL players, seemed to echo the views and anger shown by the right wing extremist I had met. I was impressed by the calm and eloquent way Osi Umenyiora, ex NFL star and tv pundit spoke on the subject prior to tv coverage of a game.
Osi is a Nigerian American who said he valued the opportunities given him in the USA and claimed he would be prepared to give his life for his adopted country. Commenting on Trump’s tweet when he referred to the protesters as ‘sons of bitches’, Osi said he did not remember Trump using such language about white supremacists, one of whom killed a woman and injured others by driving his car into the counter protesters at a fascist rally in Charlottesville. NFL players knelt for the national anthem in a respectful manner to highlight the numbers of black lives that had been lost to police violence.
The sport’s national association issued a statement saying “Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together.” and “Our respect for the national anthem has always been a hallmark of our pre-match events.” Osi claimed that Trump had behaved contrary to the values of the founding fathers of the country with regard to the First Amendment of the Constitution. This states there should be no “abridging the freedom of speech,…..or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” He therefore argues it is the President who is unpatriotic in not upholding citizen’s rights under the Constitution.
To help me distinguish between concepts of nationalism and patriotism I turned to dictionary definitions. Nationalism. ‘Extreme pride in the history, culture and successes of one’s nation’. Chambers. ‘Identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations’. Oxford. ‘Advocacy of, or support for the political independence of a particular nation or people’. Oxford. Patriotism. ‘Loyalty to one’s nation’. Chambers. ‘The feeling of loving your country more than any others and being proud of it’. Cambridge. Groups like The English Defence League take the first two definitions of nationalism to an extreme. President Trump does also in pushing through protectionist legislation on the economy and in his attitude to refugees. Much of the world seems currently to reject the third definition when we see current struggles for independence of Catalonians, Biafrans, Kurds and Palestinians. Patriotism comes into play when a country experiences war, takes part in sporting events, or celebrating achievements. It needs to be shown now in the UK as we move out of Europe, whether we voted to leave or not, it is important that we show loyalty to our nation.
Patriotism can soon turn into a tribal form of nationalism in sport though. It is possible to be loyal and patriotic to country or club without insulting, or showing aggression towards the opposition. It is worth pointing out that November 2nd. is the 100th. Anniversary of the balfour declaration which led later to the creation of Israel. The UK soon lost sight of their promise in the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’. Here I struggle to define myself as a patriot except that it should, like a true friend, be possible to point out mistakes our country has made. I will finish by looking at our National Anthem, some verses contain some of the worst examples of nationalism. We usually only sing the first verse but I remember Billy Connolly pointing out the sixth verse which is an example the first of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of nationalism.
Lord grant that Marshall Wade May by thy mighty aid Victory bring May he sedition hush And like a torrent rush Rebellious Scots to crush.
If we have to have thios outdated anthem I prefer Verse 4 and would be happier if that was retained and Verse 6 taken out. Verse 4.
Lord make the nations see That men should brothers be And form one family The wide world over.
It is our duty as citizens to be patriotic to our country but curb the excesses of nationalism. The world is shrinking as travel becomes easier and as ‘no man can be an island unto himself’, no nation can survive without creating relations with other nations.
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