On Sunday, gathered with other leaders including President Trump at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, in a seeming attack on Trump, French President Emanuel Macron offered his own perspective on nationalism, insisting that it was a betrayal of patriotism and that the patriotism is the “exact opposite of nationalism.” That triggered an avalanche of criticism from Americans and others who have profound respect for nationalism.
Speaking in Houston in late October, Trump had stated, “You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, ‘Really? We’re not supposed to use that word?’ You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”
Macron tweeted, “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.
Philosopher Yoram Hazony, whose brilliant new book, “The Virtue of Nationalism,” offers a fierce and thoroughly logical defense of nationalism, responded on Twitter: "How can you say you are a 'patriot' but oppose putting 'our interests first'? How can you speak of morality without being concerned primarily for the people you represent? Macron has become a fountainhead of immature, immoral, twaddle."
Market strategist Steve Cortes added:
American nationalism discounts bloodlines and instead exalts our shared history and overwhelming agreement on core beliefs. These principles include pluralism, free-enterprise economics, religious liberty, respect for our Constitution, and reverence for our great flag. American nationalism indeed demands “America First,” but never America alone, as evidenced by the sacred cemeteries of our war dead across the French countryside. Instead of displaying gratitude for being liberated by the first superpower in world history uninterested in conquest, Macron delivered a smug lecture.
Here is the harsh reality: France, like all of Western Europe, has thrived for decades because of the protective blanket of the American military, funded by the generous American taxpayer. In lieu of appreciation, Macron dismissed our historic commitment by calling for a European-only military to counterbalance both the U.S. and Russia. Then, in a barely veiled verbal assault on Donald Trump, he assailed nationalism as a “betrayal of patriotism.”
Jim Hanson, the President of Security Studies Group, who served in U.S. Army Special Forces, tweeted, “French President #Macron took a shot a @realDonaldTrump, saying Nationalism is the opposite of and a betrayal of patriotism He wasn't just rude, he's wrong Properly done, Nationalism is simply putting patriotism to work as a governing principle i.e. @AmericaFirst.”
Senator Lindsey Graham asserted of Macron, “I think he’s got a political problem at home — Macron does — and probably picking a fight with Trump is good politics. I like the idea of President Trump pushing NATO to pay more, getting out of the intermediate ballistic missile treaty with Russia — made sense to me because Russia’s cheating and the treaty doesn’t cover China and North Korea…I think the main friction is getting out of the Iran deal, which I thought was bad for America and really bad for the world, so, Republican presidents always have a hard time in Europe — I’m not really worried about this at all.”
Guests at the head table with Macron included Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Spain’s King Felipe VI and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.