In the 240-odd years of the Republic of the United States of America, there has never in my opinion been a graver threat than the toxic nationalism and patriotism expressed by Donald Trump and his “America First” mantra. There have been other political parties and movements like the Know Nothings and the 1930s which originally used “America First” as its slogan, but those parties never amounted to anything or achieved much. Trump is a different breed of politician, one which blindly touts a form of toxic nationalism and patriotism which has been widely adopted and brought into by millions of voters.
These types of people do not believe it is okay to question America, where any form of dissent whether it be kneeling during playing of the national anthem, protesting police brutality, or questioning the actions taken by our military, is viewed as unpatriotic. Dissenting about the actions taken by elected officials, the police, and the military is a constitutional right, because if they are not held accountable, then they will abuse their power even more. It is okay to be proud of the country where you are born, however you should never be too blind to see the country you dearly love does harm. It has taken actions and massacred innocent lives in Vietnam. It tortured people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and during the War on Terror. In the same breath, if you cannot acknowledge that America has done some right, there is a problem.
The problem of toxic nationalism and patriotism I believe will continue well into the future. The nationalism of today of being from America, Russia, China, Britain, etc. will most likely morph into a type of planetary origin debate as seen in The Expanse. In the book and television series there is resentment from Earthers towards Mars and Belters (people who live in the Asteroid Belt). The place of origin is a bigger debate because there are also physical differences because of the effects of low gravity – Mars and the spun-up asteroids having 0.3-0.4G compared to Earth’s 1.0G. In the plethora of Star Trek shows, there is little to no nationalism or planetaryism (should really be a word), which I believe an unlikely scenario.
In an ideal world, once humanity leaves this planet and colonizes others, the idea of one nation or its people being superior to others will go into the dustbin of history. However, being realistic I believe nationalism will transform into planetaryism and there will be a whole more galactic level of perceived discrimination. In Within the Grasp of Ordinary, (my novel and series), there are people who have a toxic level of planetaryism where they believe Earth is superior to other planets, and seek to impose a fully Earth-centric government. Other people in the story believe while Earth will always hold a special place in humanity’s heart, Earth cannot treat other planets and their inhabitants as second-class citizens.
Besides toxic nationalism/planetaryism, patriotism is another problem, especially if people believe if one form of patriotism is superior to other displays of patriotism. There are different displays of patriotism but it is paramount not to forget that dissent is patriotic. Wanting one’s country to be better, to not torture people, to display respect towards all human beings regardless of their origin, is patriotic. What is not patriotic is trying to deny other’s their rights to be equal, to live how they want to live, to judge people by the color of skin, their place of origin, their name, their choice of religion or lack thereof.
Toxic nationalism and patriotism is a problem and one we must be better at understanding and addressing.