Column: Don't succumb to nationalism

I have looked myself over and have repeatedly failed to find a manufacturing label that reads “made in the USA.”

From the way nationalism has taken over both the United States and the globe, I nearly believed I was only a product of my birthplace. A rapidly connecting world should be moving away from identifying individuals by country, not becoming more xenophobic and nationalistic.

Working closely with members of the international community as well as having been an international student myself manifests several issues with defining anyone by a nation. Not every citizen of the world has a country to be proud of, or even a country to claim home to at all. Countries do not last forever, such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, and not every country is recognized by the world community, like Tibet and Taiwan.

That, not to mention the complicated circumstances of those born abroad, those who identify with multiple nations, those forced to leave their homes or the unfortunately high number of stateless individuals.

There are more similarities than differences between humans — it is now predicted that a child in America may have more in common with a child in India than an older individual in their own country. This is why multinational organizations such as the UN, EU, NAFTA and others have brought the world closer to peace. Yes, there are always issues, but let’s not forget that allowing countries to act solely in their own nationalistic interests is part of what brought on two World Wars. More is accomplished when people work together beyond borders.

Countries are not homogeneous, yet nationalism creates the idea of an “outsider.” It solidifies that if someone is not “American,” then they are something else. It attributes to each foreigner the perceived characteristics of their country, which is just as silly as assuming that every Frenchman owns a poodle and every Argentinian loves to tango — silly, until words like terrorist and trafficker come to mind.

To succumb to nationalism is to exclude the very people who made the United States great in the first place — immigrants. To those who genuinely believe that the United States is taking in more immigrants than any other country, please keep basic math in mind. Yes, the United States takes in one of the largest numbers, but it is also one of the largest countries. In reality, there are 64 nations who have a higher percentage of foreign-born citizens.

Unlike several nations, the United States has enjoyed secure borders for most of its modern history. So let’s brag about it — let’s brag about the two large oceans that have kept the country secure and the quiet neighbors at our borders. Let’s brag about how each of us experienced random luck and were born into a country that is not currently facing a domestic war. I get it, it is nearly impossible to completely abandon the idea of nationalism. But if America is so great, why is its perceived greatness being abused as an attempt to shut others out?

Throughout history the United States has opened its doors to those fleeing their home countries, and those individuals are just as American as those who were born here. During a time of enhanced global travel and communication, it is embarrassing that people are so easily swayed by the global pull to xenophobia and nationalism. We, the people of this planet, are individuals with unique opinions, culture and backgrounds — not products of man-made borders and the consequent bickering of political elites.

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