French President Emmanuel Macron used a speech commemorating the ending of World War I to obliquely criticize Donald Trump, saying that nationalism was a “betrayal of patriotism.”
Trump, who has proclaimed himself a nationalist, sat just a few feet away.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron said in a 20-minute address delivered from under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.
“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”
Sorry, but Americans do not elect a president to put the interests of other countries first. Neither do French voters. Macron can virtue signal all he wants, but in the end, if he put the interests of any other country before those of France, he would be hung from the Eiffel Tower by voters.
Trump, who has pursued “America First” policies since entering the White House and in the run-up to the congressional elections this month declared himself a “nationalist”, sat still and stony-faced in the front row as Macron spoke.
There was no immediate response from either the White House or the Kremlin to Macron’s comments.
What is “nationalism”? Webster’s defines the term as “loyalty and devotion to a nation especially; a sense of national consciousness; exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranationalgroups.” The dictionary lists “patriotism” as the lone synonym.
“Nationalism” is not a problem. But the left has chosen to conflate “nationalism” with “fascism,” “xenophobia,” “chauvinism,” and other problematic terms when, in point of fact, most Americans see “nationalism” as simple, heartfelt patriotism.
And this is what the left here and in Europe object to. Millions of people in Europe are being branded “fascists” because the national character of their countries is being undermined by politicians who, frankly, didn’t ask their permission to do so. What’s wrong with asking newcomers to adopt the values that the majority share? They can practice any religion they want, but they have no right to demand that people in democratic states alter their fundamental values and customs to accomodate them. Hence, the huge success of nationalist political parties across Europe as ordinary people will no longer stand by watching as their patrimony is eroded in the name of “multiculturalism.”
The left uses “nationalism” here as convenient shorthand for anyone who doesn’t agree with their internationalist agenda. They deliberately conflate excessive nationalism with patriotism, thus smearing tens of millions of ordinary Americans who don’t understand why loving their country is an evil.
We get it. Excessive nationalism is bad. It led to World War I and inspired Hitler to start World War II. But Trump is neither Hitler nor the Kaiser. He believes — wrongly in some instances — that our position as the world’s only superpower is being squandered and undermined because of excessive internationalism. He also believes that American leaders have, for too long, sacrificed American interests, American jobs, and American supremacy in order to promote the economic and strategic interests of other nations.
The U.S. must exist in the world. We must cooperate on many issues with the nations simply because it’s stupid to try and go it alone (ask North Korea). But intelligent cooperation, especially on trade and mutual defense, should be the goal and not a blind adherence to an internationalist agenda that is failing ordinary people the world over.