Is patriotism a good or a bad thing?

Debate topic: 27. Is patriotism a good or a bad thing?

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

Patriotism and nationalism, two different concepts, are increasingly being used to mean the same thing. But they don’t, and confusing them can be dangerous.

So what’s the difference? Well, patriotism is defined as love of and devotion to one’s country and support for its interests, while nationalism is extreme patriotic feelings where one believes in the superiority of their own country over others. An example of healthy patriotism would be supporting your country’s national teams in international tournaments.

Then there’s this: earlier this month over 60,000 poles came together to celebrate their country’s Independence Day. However, the march was marred with banners and slogans celebrating nationalism and white supremacy.

The Polish government’s response to the march was conflicted. The president was quick to denounce the march, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that the march was attended by “people who wanted to peacefully manifest their patriotic feelings” and the Interior Minister called the Crimson Fog March in Warsaw “a beautiful sight.” The day ended with 45 arrests, all of them counter-protesters and not one of them was seen carrying a white supremacist symbol or heard chanting “Sieg heil” in a country where Nazis carried out some of the Holocaust’s worst atrocities, leading one to wonder – just how normalized is this patriotic racism becoming?

In the US, research suggests that support for President Trump was driven largely by racial resentment which his campaign capitalized on under the guise of patriotism. Hate crimes have risen over 5% since Trump’s election, with more than half of them motivated by race. Although we can’t say he’s the cause, there does appear to be a correlation.

Most recently, when football players started kneeling during the national anthem for social justice, President Trump quickly spun the issue to be an insult to veterans and soldiers who fight for the country and tweeted this: courageous patriots have fought and died for our great American flag. We must honor and respect it.

The United States is not alone in disguising racism and ultra-nationalism as patriotic. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, which evolved from a neo-fascist anti-semitic political party, is also guilty of using the same language. [Translation: Patriotism is not a policy of the past; it is a policy for the future.] Some European politicians even say that the West is going through a patriotic spring. But is that just another term for nationalism and racism?


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