In a multicultural nation, nationalism cannot be defined along ethnic, religious, nor racial lines. History tells us this is a formula for conflict. It not only breeds notions of inferiority of the other group, but also leads to their ostracization and subjugation. Countries—including America—faced civil wars over these tensions. This form of nationalism has resulted in genocide across the world: Jews in Nazi Germany, Tutsis in Rwanda, and Bosnians in Bosnia.
In America, and across the world, we are witnessing waves of negative populism fueled by xenophobia and racism—breeding racial and ethnic nationalism. Mass shooting after mass shooting, America is reaping the fruits of flawed nationalism; nationalism rooted in White nationalism—aimed at preserving White hegemony as the basis of American nationalism. This incredulous wave of malignant populism spreads whenever our public figures make xenophobic comments and fan the flames of racial divide.
In America, this cannot stand. In America, we are a nation formed of Americans from all walks of life. Some Americans, like myself, were not born Americans but received the privilege of citizenship. After all, every American’s lineage (except Native Americans) traces back to another land. There is not one American identity, but the unity of values shared and self-evident in American life.
Freedom. Freedom to worship whatever God you please. And express yourself in whatever manner that embodies your identity.
Equality. Under our founding documents we profess that every American is just as American as the next—regardless of who they are or how long they have lived as an American. Regardless of who you are, by the virtue of your possession of American citizenship includes the right to the proper pursuit of happiness. For some, this value is still aspirational. But American Nationalism should embody lifting all boats—ensuring the realization of this self-evident truth for every single American citizen: despite who they are or what they identify as.
Hope. Hope that our situations are not permanent. Markets may fall. Disaster may strike. And war may rage. But what persists is the undying hope that we will overcome. Overcome like we overcame Jim Crow; like we overcame Great Depressions and Recessions; and like we will overcome this surge of negative populism rooted in White nationalism. But we can only do so through unity; through the acceptance of our differences and glorification of our similarities; and through the belief of a collective American identity.
But we must act now. We must stand up to all forms of hate. We must embody a renewed and collective form of American Nationalism.