The Quest to Unite Globalism and Nationalism - By Jonah Campbell
If you were on Twitter a few days ago, you might have noticed that a trending topic was “#CivilWarIsHere.” One scroll through the top tweets revealed an inspired back and forth between both educated conservative and liberal populations, inundated with sharp wit and striking clarity. The first tweet included a meme of two images stacked one above the other, the top one of a firing range with armed citizens standing proudly in the field, the bottom one of a group of men dressed in drag, that read “If the #CivilWarIsHere, I’m Not Worried.” I had to sit for a moment to let the tolerance waft over me before continuing on. Tweet after tweet, the more I read the more I noticed the same pointed vocabulary emerge on the conservative side of the discussion.
Before I continue, I should mention, I have been living in rural Montana for the past 4 months and have been consuming as much conservative media as possible, trying to better understand that mindset. Having been raised in California, my exposure up until this point was minimal. I listen to Hannity and the Savage Nation on the radio, I watch Fox News, and I can’t help but hear the old guy in the Carhartt jacket sitting at the end of the diner bar yelling at the TV over his breakfast. As the current political environment has developed over the last few months, a specific group of words have reappeared frequently, being used by conservative mouthpieces as derogatory vehicles for hatred of “liberal” ideals. (I use quotes around “liberal” because the ideals are less liberal, more human). The meanings of the words themselves have been massively bastardized to perpetuate a misguided, conservative narrative.
Unsurprisingly, these alternate definitions have been adopted as truth by the consumer base, and have been weaponized for use against the Left. Now educated, these are the words I found myself noticing scattered across the Twittersphere. Two words in particular I find the hardest to swallow, their use so unbelievably petulant, waxing idiotic: Globalism and Progressivism.
Globalism, the ideology of global citizenship, the belief in collaboration across the world, and Progressivism, the ideology of advocacy for social reform, are now derogatory words, and I frankly, have a hard time conceptualizing this. On Fox News, phrases like “Obama’s globalist policies,” “Obama the globalist,” “the progressivists,” and “the left wing progressives,” not uncommonly precede phrases like, “left America in a terrible situation,” “ruined America,” “are what’s wrong with this country,” and “should go cry in their safe spaces." Globalism is viewed as the antithesis to Nationalism, the belief in country first, freedom, the American Dream, apple pie and baseball; the belief that we as a country couldn’t possibly maintain our perfect, white picket fenced reality by putting the good of the world before or even on par with Ourselves. Specifically in reference to the refugee crisis and impending Muslim ban, the honest fear is that letting outsiders into the United States is akin to purposely taking a hatchet to the bronze chest plate of American protection, the one thing that keeps us safe. We are so well protected, in fact, that we seem to have gotten bored. We use our protective devices against one another, resulting in about 11.5 times more deaths by firearm than by terrorist attacks, when comparing the 2013 firearm death statistics with the 2001 terrorist attack death statistics. To this mindset, the greatest threat to Americans’ safety is maintaining open communication with war-torn countries, and using American resources to help those in need. There is a level of prejudice that exists here, in that a large denomination of the people supporting the Muslim ban simply have never met anyone from Syria, Iran, or Sudan. It is easy to animalize a group of people you’ve never interacted with, and, unfortunately, fear of what is different readily turns into hatred.
I want to identify the one thing that truly bothers me about this: the underlying belief that it is not possible to be nationalistic, to have love for one’s own nation, without harboring hatred for others. The concept is much more fluid than the conservative media would like its consumers to believe: the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It is possible to love your country and, for instance, still feel justified in accepting refugees who might not survive if not for the asylum offered by your country. Sure, be wary of engagements with foreign governments and stay informed of the risks, but you shouldn’t be able to condemn millions of people to Hell on Earth because they happened to be born somewhere else, and then hide behind a “country first” smokescreen. The strength of our nation relies on immigrants. To be American is to be of the world, and to forget that now would be childish. We would just as soon forget, for convenience, than have the courage to face down our fear and be the refuge many so desperately need.
Progressivism as slander is parody; every 5th grader studying US History knows this. Simply put, history does not remember the progressives, the advocates of social reform, those striving for progress, as the harbingers of doom. The people that history remembers as dull, shall we say, are those that resisted change vehemently. Think back to how the people that fought to remain under British rule, the people that fought to preserve slavery, the people that fought to maintain Jim Crow and discrimination laws, the people that fought to bar women from getting the vote, were portrayed in your 5th grade textbook. We do not celebrate them. This cycle perpetuates itself and is how today’s army of “nationalists,” who fought against the legalization of gay marriage, who are fighting to defund Planned Parenthood, and who are fighting for the Muslim immigration ban, will be viewed 50 years from now. Ultimately, the common thread is that, for some, change is the most terrifying thing in the world. So terrifying in fact, that they fear it more than death itself. We know this because countless lives have been lost fighting to maintain the status quo, biting and clawing desperately at progress as it marches on.
What I’ve observed is that most conservative radio and television talking points are rooted in fear: fear of the government, fear for one’s safety, and fear for one’s wallet. The initiatives pushed by conservative politicians are those that champion the prevention and alleviation of those fears. Cut taxes, protect my wallet, let me have my guns so I can protect myself from the government and my neighbors, and give me back my coal job because that’s how I used to pay the bills and feed my family. If my family is safe, secure, wealthy, and healthy, nothing else matters. The driving force behind conservative ideology is simply the fear of sub-optimal personal well-being.
With that in mind, let’s look again at globalism and progressivism. For a conservative the fear of outsiders, rooted in a fear of difference, and the fear of risk, becomes the hatred of globalism, while the fear of change and an unknown future becomes the hatred of progressivism. In both instances, conservatives take the easy way out, allowing their fears to engorge and outweigh their courage, compassion and empathy. So, the next time someone calls you a globalist or a progressive you can smile to yourself, knowing that they’ve just given you the best compliment possible: they have just affirmed your depth of courage and your ability to choose empathy over fear.