Editor’s Note: Welcome to Point-Counterpoint, where Liberty Nation writers face off in an intellectual debate about issues affecting everyday Americans. This week, authors Jeff Charles and Onar Am take on the issues of nationalism and just who’s zooming who.
Mr. Charles: What is it about the words America First that makes the left so afraid?
It seems that anytime someone utters these words, the left immediately acts as if this phrase means that we are returning to the isolationism of the 1930’s that made us hesitant to enter World War II. But it doesn’t stop there.
When President Trump talks about protecting our values, comparisons to fascism inevitably arise. In a piece for The Guardian Timothy Snyder issues an ominous warning:
If Republicans do not wish to repeat the mistakes of the German conservatives of the 1930s, they had better find their courage – and their conservatism – fast.
In his committed mendacity, his nostalgia for the 1930s, and his acceptance of support from a foreign enemy of the United States, a Republican president has closed the door on conservatism and opened the way to a darker form of politics: a new right to replace an old one.
Yes, you read that right. Snyder compared the ascension of Donald Trump to the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Not only that, but he also compares American conservatives to the German conservatives of the 1930’s. The Washington Post stated that America First means:
A white America (committed, to be sure, to “take care of our African American people”), living behind higher walls and screens, lashing out to prove its strength and then retreating again — not a government suspiciously tolerant of foreign threats.
The left is mischaracterizing the rising nationalist movement as something it is not. They are attempting to convince the American public that the type of nationalism that is being discussed is similar to that of the Nazi party in Germany. The left believes that we are headed towards a similar fate as the people of Germany. Of course, this could not be further from the truth.
While there exists a small group of people in the alt-right movement who espouse an ethnic nationalism that focuses on race, the majority of conservatives do not subscribe to this view. When conservatives speak of patriotism, they are talking about western civilization and its values. It is not race that unites Americans — it is a set of shared values, morals and the rule of law that we must protect. Unfortunately for the left, protecting our values means implementing the types of policies they do not like.
The Conservative stance on illegal immigration, Islamic terrorism, and free speech are some of the issues of which the left does not approve. When conservatives state that illegal immigration should be stopped and legal immigration encouraged, the left only sees xenophobia. When Conservatives speak of the importance of ensuring that radical Islamic terrorists cannot threaten Americans, the left only sees Islamophobia. When Conservatives argue that free speech is one of the most important rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the left only sees us protecting “hate speech.” Of course, defending American values is not the only point with which the left takes issue.
Many on the right and the left have criticized Trump’s seemingly isolationist approach. His disdain for trade deals and international agreements have made many Americans uneasy. His hesitancy to enter into foreign wars conjures memories of the people who tried to prevent the U.S. from becoming involved in World War II.
However, nationalism does not necessarily mean isolationism. The president has stated that he intends to make only international trade deals that benefit the United States. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not he will succeed in this regard, but if he follows through on this promise, it will have a positive impact on the country. Additionally, sending our troops to fight in conflicts without cause or threat to our national security is not desirable. We have seen the issues that came about because of our invasion of Iraq. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes we have made in the past — if we are to go to war, it must be for the right reasons.
Mr. Am: The comparison between Trump’s nationalism and the policies of the National Socialist German Labor Party of the 1930s is especially atrocious since Trump’s policies are more akin to that of Winston Churchill’s United Kingdom, or most other European nations at the time. If Churchill had lived today, the leftist press would unquestionably have labeled him a xenophobe, Islamophobe, racist — or all three. During World War II, Churchill even had a temporary immigration ban on people from countries with which Great Britain was engaged in militarily.
If we could go back in time to before 1960 in Europe and conducted a survey on border controls and immigration policies, the vast majority of people in all European countries would have answered that they were against open borders. Some amount of immigration from neighbor countries with similar language and culture would have been acceptable, but multiculturalism would have been an alien concept and utterly unacceptable.
In fact, most of our great-grandparents in America or Europe would be rolling in their graves if they knew what had become of their proud nations. If the choice were between the globalist Hillary Clinton and the nationalist Donald Trump, Trump would win “bigly” in most countries. Does that mean that most of our great-grandparents were Nazis?
In fact, if a Mexican version of Trump and Clinton were pitting against each other in the Mexican election, who do you think would win? Most likely Trump. The same would be true in most countries across the world. Is the whole world Nazi?
A far more likely explanation is that Trump is a moderate centrist and the globalists are left-wing extremists. So far his presidency has been strikingly un-Hitler like. During the 1930s Jews, the press and regime critics rightfully feared for their safety, and in many cases for their lives. Who fears for their safety in America? Certainly not the left. The media certainly don’t behave as if they are afraid of being thrown in a concentration camp.
In fact, so far the only ones who have had good reason to be afraid of violence and persecution are nationalists, conservatives and Trump supporters. YouTube, PayPal, and Patreon are demonetizing right wing alternative media activists due to pressure from the left. Recently, even liberal atheist and famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins was deplatformed in California due to “hurtful speech” about Islam. So who is behaving more like Nazis in America today? Give that a minute to sink in.
The left’s alarmism when it comes to nationalism is completely unfounded. It is designed to demonize conservatives who espouse a more nationalistic point of view. The Trump administration is not pursuing a fascistic agenda, and the left knows it — but they seem to believe that if they yell “Nazi” loud enough and often enough, the American public will be persuaded.
Unfortunately for them, they are wrong. The only group of people who have anything in common with fascists is the hard left. Groups like Antifa and Refuse Fascism routinely use fascist brownshirt tactics to shut down their political opponents. If people on the left are truly concerned about fascism, perhaps they should look in the mirror.