President Donald Trump continues to take flack for his “America First” stance. The latest person to find fault with putting one’s country first is French President Emmanuel Macron. During his speech at a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, he slammed Trump’s “America First” position.
“Patriotism” is the exact opposite of nationalism: Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.
My first thought as I read the above statement was that of a mother or caregiver. The first responsibility of every mother and caregiver is to themselves. They must take care of themselves in order to be able to care for children or other people in need. A mother may get by on four or five hours of sleep for a few nights in order to care for small children, but a continual schedule of such sleep deprivation will take a toll on the mother’s health.
I visited with a sister-in-law yesterday who shared a recent experience of saying “no” to an associate. This good woman gives love, food, time, and support to many people and has done so for many years. She cared for her ill husband and paralyzed son for numerous years until they each died this year, so she and her family are in a state of mourning and grief. However, the family has dealt with numerous other emotional stresses during the same period of time. Deaths of extended family members and a daughter’s stressful divorce are just a few of the problems. She finally realized that she had to step back in order to take care of herself and her own family.
There is a limit to how much stress any individual can handle. What good would my sister-in-law be to herself or her family if she fell to pieces? Who takes care of the children when the mother is too ill to get out of bed? The same is true for every nation in the world. Who takes care of a particular nation when it has given everything it has to help other nations?
Ben Shapiro posted an interesting rebuttal to Macron’s claim. He says that it “has a sort of European charm” but is both “false” and “dangerous.” He continues his post with this explanation.
Nationalism, when opposed to patriotism, can indeed be terrible. It can suggest that the interests of one nation override the interests of every other nation, that imperialism and colonialism are worth pursuing out of love of blood and soil. But when combined with patriotism, nationalism can also be a bulwark against tyranny. Nationalism can stand up to international communism. Nationalism can refuse to bow before the dictates of multiculturalism, which suggest that all cultures and practices are of equal value.
Patriotism is a philosophy of national values: It is a statement that your nation has values that are eternal, true and noble. American patriotism prizes God-given individual rights protected by limited government. Were America to lose God-given individual rights protected by limited government, it would no longer be America. But patriotism doesn’t mean that it is the job of America to spread our values everywhere else to the detriment of our own national strength. Our patriotism encompasses American nationalism: We believe that America must come first so that America can be strong enough to promote her values where appropriate.
Shapiro continues with a longer explanation. Suffice it to say that he does not agree with Macron. Shapiro says that nationalism “isn’t the problem. Lack of values is. And mistaking anti-nationalism for a value system in and of itself endangers free citizens who hold worthwhile national values dear.”
I agree with Shapiro that Americans have the right and the responsibility to put America first, meaning to take care of America’s and American’s needs before those of other nations.
Patriotic Americans wish to keep the United States strong in order to be a leader to the world and to show an example of how America’s values are the foundation for America’s power.