Obama: 'We Are Going to Have to Guard Against a Rise in a Crude Sort of Nationalism'

Lookups for 'nationalism' spiked after Obama warned against 'tribalism that is built around an us and a them'

Lookups for nationalism increased on November 9, following the election; they spiked again on November 13, when Trump announced the appointment of Steve Bannon, an alt-right figure associated with white nationalism; and then showed a more significant spike on November 15 when the word was used by President Obama.

At a news conference in Athens, the president addressed the recent election as well as the Brexit vote and, implicitly, rising nationalist parties in France, Germany, and elsewhere by saying:

We are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism, or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an us and a them, and I will never apologize for saying that the future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common, as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict.

Nationalism means “a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries” or "a desire by a large group of people (such as people who share the same culture, history, language, etc.) to form a separate and independent nation of their own." It is distinguished from patriotism by the specific notion of superiority, as opposed to love of country. Jingoism adds the element of military aggressiveness to nationalism. It’s interesting to note that while its roots are ancient (nation ultimately comes from the Latin word natio, meaning “birth”), nationalism was first used in the 19th century, at a time when the modern concept of national identity was being formed; countries such as Italy and Germany were unified from smaller states during this period.

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