Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nationalism gets Ugly

So, in my last post, I asked if nationalism could exist without xenophobia. I guess this is part of where these thoughts were coming from - I've recently been doing a lot of research on some pretty terrible wars (yeah . . . as opposed to those lovely wars . . .). I have learned about atrocities that I am stunned and saddened that people committed, but I can see how it happened. The propaganda made them believe that they had to get rid of "the enemy" or their communities would be threatened. I can see how ordinary people would be led into this thought process. But then, there's the next level of atrocities - where they start wanting to get rid of the threatening "other," and then they end up engaging their basest instincts - I am particularly thinking of the ICTY case where Muslim teenagers were held as sex slaves. How did these men convince themselves that they could do that? Is this the natural place where fear of the other can lead? These crimes were done in the name of something that started out as nationalism - how does this fit into the dialogue on nationalism as I was noticing it in Quebec and Norway? Does it, or is it a completely different world?

1 comment:

Wheat Sheaf said...

Having recently celebrated Canada Day in the nations capital, your question strikes me as missing the mark. Your questions supposes that nationalism is inherently linked to a fear of others.

There are varying strains of nationalism (why is everything shades of grey?). In particular, ethnic nationalism and cultural nationalism. Ethnic nationalism, similar to the "purlaine" in Quebec or the nationalism of Germany in the 1930's, promotes a belief that one group is naturally dominant to another group, and excludes other groups. Cultural nationalism, while still maintaining and promoting pride in one's nation, has an inclusive quality that wants others to recognize a group's distinguishing and unifying caracteristics. Examples of cultural national, would be Quebec and Scotland. One is not barred from joining the Quebec nation, but one cannot be a purlaine Quebecois unless you have lived in Quebec many generations.

To tie this back to the Canada Day celebrations, the better question to ask: Are people in Ottawa there to demonstrate their nationalistic pride or for the party?