At­ten­tion, Mr. Pres­i­dent: Be­ing a na­tion­al­ist is not a good thing

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ann McFeat­ters Ann McFeat­ters is a colum­nist for Tri­bune News Ser­vice. Read­ers may send her email at am­cfeat­ters@ na­tion­al­ Ge­orge Will is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact him at georgewill@wash­

— The spread of na­tion­al­ism around the globe is the worst de­vel­op­ment of this cen­tury.

It could well lead to schisms, wars, more refugee mi­gra­tions and cat­a­clysms sim­i­lar to those of the 20th cen­tury.

In a stun­ning ad­mis­sion at one of his po­lit­i­cal ral­lies, Don­ald Trump called him­self a na­tion­al­ist. But con­trary to Don­ald Trump, na­tion­al­ism does not mean love of one’s coun­try. It means an es­pousal of su­pe­ri­or­ity and racism. It means an end of sta­bil­ity and na­tions work­ing to­gether in a com­mon in­ter­est. It means more ha­tred and vi­o­lence.


To be a na­tion­al­ist is not a good thing; its con­no­ta­tion now means far-right, racist white power. Amer­ica fought two world wars against na­tion­al­ism and to pre­serve democ­racy. Na­tion­al­ism and democ­racy are not com­pat­i­ble. The most fa­mous na­tion­al­ist leader was Adolph Hitler. Like him, many na­tion­al­ists feel un­der siege and think they must pro­tect their racial iden­tity.

Af­ter the mur­der of a young woman in Char­lottesville dur­ing a na­tion­al­ist rally, Trump sig­naled that he found as much fault with demon­stra­tors protest­ing racism and re­li­gious big­otry as he did with the white na­tion­al­ists vi­o­lently ad­vo­cat­ing it. There was im­me­di­ate out­rage but then Trump changed the top­ics to nu­clear war, ha­tred of im­mi­grants, dis­be­lief in cli­mate change, tax breaks for the rich, how he is us­ing the power of the White House to en­rich him­self, etc.

Af­ter the worst mas­sacre of Amer­i­can Jews in this coun­try, Trump said it was too bad they didn’t have an armed guard to pre­vent it, ig­nor­ing the po­lice of­fi­cers who were at the Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue al­most in­stantly and were shot.

Most re­cently he blithely as­sured his sup­port­ers he can defy the Con­sti­tu­tion and de­clare that ba­bies born to im­mi­grants in Amer­ica are not cit­i­zens. He has or­dered 5,200 armed Amer­i­can sol­diers to the south­ern bor­der to stop an “in­va­sion” of men, women and chil­dren flee­ing gang vi­o­lence and poverty who are walk­ing thou­sands of miles to the bor­der to ask for asy­lum.

White su­prem­a­cists, also known as na­tion­al­ists, think di­ver­sity is code for ex­tinc­tion of white male su­pe­ri­or­ity. They are afraid of change and of oth­ers’ rights. To be a na­tion­al­ist is to in­sist that Chris­tian­ity is paramount, that ev­ery­one should think and act like you do and to make out­siders un­wel­come. In other words, while Amer­ica was formed as a melt­ing pot; it should not be one to­day. Amer­ica has been the global moral leader; un­der Trump, it is ab­ro­gat­ing that role, do­ing only what he claims is in this coun­try’s best in­ter­ests al­though he is of­ten wrong. Trump does not put the Amer­i­can peo­ple first; he puts his anger, dis­trust and fear of have-nots first.

That is why he did not try to get along with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkle, who has just an­nounced she will re­sign, leav­ing the post of leader of the free world va­cant.

That is why he ap­plauded Brexit, which will split up the Euro­pean Union. That is why he ad­mires Vladimir Putin’s ef­forts to re­make Rus­sia as an ag­gres­sive, mil­i­tar­ily strong, con­quer­ing pow­er­house. That is why he pulled out of the Paris cli­mate ac­cord. That is why he said noth­ing when the World Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion said the world wildlife pop­u­la­tions fell by 60 per­cent from 1970. That is why he has started trade wars and im­posed high tar­iffs on goods and ser­vices that Amer­i­cans im­port. That is why he con­tin­ues to ex­co­ri­ate po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents and stir ha­tred and fear among his sup­port­ers. He is in­ca­pable of telling the truth un­less it serves his in­ter­ests. Sev­enty per­cent of the rest of the world does not trust him.

Yet, Trump is rid­ing a global wave. More lead­ers such as those in Poland, Hun­gary, Italy and, most re­cently, Brazil are self-de­scribed na­tion­al­ists. Brazil’s new pres­i­dent, Jair Bol­sonaro, has made a habit of de­nounc­ing women, gays and Brazil­ians of color while es­pous­ing guns, dic­ta­tor­ships, killing al­leged crim­i­nals and civil war. You won’t be sur­prised to know that Trump im­me­di­ately called Bol­sonaro with ex­u­ber­ant con­grat­u­la­tions. Like Trump, Bol­sonaro cam­paigned on di­vid­ing his coun­try and had, a friend ac­knowl­edged, “no real strat­egy.”

Af­ter stress­ing that he is a “na­tion­al­ist,” Trump said this elec­tion is about him and is ex­hort­ing vot­ers to vote for Repub­li­cans again to give him full con­trol — of the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, for­eign pol­icy and all of us.

Each of us must choose. in the pri­mary was up 40 per­cent over 2010, the last com­pet­i­tive gu­ber­na­to­rial con­test.

Ge­or­gia, the eighth­most pop­u­lous state, is 32 per­cent black (the third high­est per­cent­age, be­hind Mis­sis­sippi and Louisiana), 10 per­cent His­panic and 4 per­cent Asian. It has the sec­ond-low­est per­cent­age of whites east of the Mis­sis­sippi (af­ter Mary­land). Don­ald Trump won Ge­or­gia by only 5 points (3 fewer than Mitt Rom­ney in 2012) and car­ried 23 of his 30 states by more.

Abrams and Kemp are in a sta­tis­ti­cal dead heat. In Ge­or­gia. In late Oc­to­ber. So, she prob­a­bly al­ready has given na­tional Democrats’ a tan­ta­liz­ing sense of 2020 pos­si­bil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly if she is gov­er­nor.

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