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What is a patriot? What is a nationalist? Much has been made of the fact that in some dictionaries—or Google—they are mutually synonymous. Definitions, however, seem to shift with time, and the look-up resources available to us are rarely up to the moment.
To this writer, however, there exists a subtle distinction between the isms that’s worth noting.
A patriot is someone who loves his country and if necessary, will offer his life in its cause. Because we are Americans, we often talk about making the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom. It is hard to imagine, then, being a patriotic citizen in a country that is patently not free—Cuba and North Korea are today’s icons for political slavery. That is why we honor veterans and what they have done, each giving some of his or her freedom, while some surrender all of it on behalf of the rest of us.
A nationalist, on the other hand, is a patriot who puts the interests of his own country above that of all others. Ben Franklin once said that the essence of foreign relations—of diplomacy—is seeing to it that the interests of the country one represented rose above all others. In fact, it is considered the sacred duty of diplomats to put the interests of their country in front those put forward by any other country. By definition, then, all heads of state and all those who represent the various states, must be nationalists.
It needs to be said that patriotism and nationalism have nothing to do with language, race, or ethnicity, unless one’s only reason for being one or the other is to achieve an immoral or unnatural control over another country because of their race or ethnicity.
None of this is to defend either notion to its extreme. Donald Trump is both a patriot and a nationalist—by my lights—and I hope I am, too, but neither of us is synonymous with the other. Having said that, I am confident that were the globe faced with the same challenges forced upon our nation in 1941, a President Trump would step away from an “America First” mantra—unlike Charles Lindbergh—and commit us to do our part.
It is true, then, that one can be a patriot and a nationalist, but one can never be a nationalist without being first, a patriot. Many on the left—the Alt-State of Progressives, Hollywood elites, Academics, and the MSM—can readily lay claim to patriotism, but in the end, it means little if one is not also a nationalist when the plight of our people demands it.