The Trouble with Nationalism
The difference between patriotism and nationalism. "Left-wingers who fancy themselves ironically detached from patriotism and particularism and as avatars of a more sophisticated cosmopolitanism no doubt roll their eyes at such things, considering it so much schmaltz. Some might even snark that such patriotic piety is hypocritical given this or that crime — real or alleged — that America has committed. But hypocrisy is a charge every civilization opens itself to when it aims for an ideal higher and better than loyalty to tribe. There were few hypocrites in Sparta. But I firmly believe that when we call the sacrifices of American patriots no different from the sacrifices of Spartans — ancient or modern — we are giving short shrift to the glory, majesty, and uniqueness of American patriotism and the American experiment. I’m reminded of Martin Diamond’s point that the concepts of “Americanism,” “Americanization,” and “un-American” have no parallel in any other country or language. It is true that nationalism is part of the equation, but it is the less important part. And by mistaking the tail for the dog, we lose sight of what is important."