The American Nationalist!

So now we have a nationalist president, by self-acclaim, which means a couple of things:1. He was asleep or counting his money back when nationalism broke out after the collapse of Communism 2. He never heard of Serbia and its quest to revive the ideal of a Greater Serbian nation 3. Knows nothing of history but thinks “nationalism” sounds like something great! 4. Doesn’t know anything about what the world looked like before the War he is in France to commemorate, when nationalism defined the day in so many ways.

I am NOT going to revert to my retired professor status to lecture here about the nature of nationalism. Let’s just say that during the war in Yugoslavia, it was all the rage to such a degree that Serbian paramilitaries sat on the sides of hills outside big cities and lobbed mortars and machine gun fire on Albanians and other Moslems who happened to inhabit the cities.

That’s what nationalism does, and why every person with any sense in the head says, “You might think so, President Trump, but you better hope you’re not!”

The Brothers Grimm gave Germany an identity of sort through fairy tales, but one of them was the story of a Jew who is lured into dancing in thorn bushes by a clever fox. That was a level of nationalism at work reflecting German hatred and suspicion of Jews, even in a children’s story.

The whole question of nationalism can’t take us to any good place and every time I hear him say it, I flash back to what my colleagues and I found out about Serbia when we worked on a series on nationalism for The Chicago Tribune back in the old days, when the newspaper still had its own building!

Am I going to repeat that all here? No. You should have read it the first time because it was pretty good. But I will say this for it, if you peeled the genocide charge against the late Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevich, where it took you was to an argument that nation was everything and defending it, no matter how brutally, was just fine.

It was not.

It is not.

I think at the heart of President Trump’s wrong-headed embrace of nationalist rhetoric and identity is that inclination that it’s okay to mash and bash people who are “others” because they aren’t American. Sorry, there was a tortured kind of logic to the Serbian nationalist cause because, after all, they were all Serbians. We are all Americans, and not at all like them in so many ways.

Of course, our president has no idea! No idea at all according to the French.

It’s just another reason to hate Trump for what he represents.

I don’t know what that is, but the “nationalist” part of it is reprehensible. The thought that we have the U.S. Army lined up on a section of the southern border is ridiculous. What if those people are just folks tossed by the tempest who are longing to be free?

That’s what we are about, isn’t it, welcoming them and unleashing them on a new generation of lawns and low-wage jobs until they claw their way up our ladder of opportunity?

That is my very American thought at this moment, and I wish the president would just shut his yap on the question of nationalism.