I pledge alliegance to my respective country…

· long story short

This was a Reuters headline today:
Serb Vote Halts Feared Slide Back to Nationalism
The AP story led with:
A reformist politician defeated a nationalist ally of Slobodan Milosevic…
I wonder, seriously wonder, what in the world we Americans do think about nationalism. Do we think that we are nationalistic? If so, do we take that to be a good thing? We definitely think patriotism is a good thing. But do we think of Serbs as patriotic?
The Reuters piece continued:
Serbia turned its back on a generation of hard-line nationalism…
Is there such a thing as “hard-line patriotism”?
The New York Times was more circumspect:
…allaying fears of a possible revival of nationalist extremism
Again, is there such a thing as “patriotic extremism”?
The two Webster’s entries are nearly indistinguishable:
nationalism: Devotion to the interests or culture of one’s nation.
patriotism: Love of and devotion to one’s country.
What I wish I could get at is not how strongly people feel–or should feel–about their countries. It is what seems to me a morally corrupting conceptual asymmetry, probably in all counties, but, I’m guessing, especially in the US (compared to other “advanced countries,” at any rate).
It would be interesting to see a survey that asked first:
“Do you approve of patriotism?”
“Strongly?” “Moderately?” etc.
Then follow with:
“Is that only in the United States, or also in other countries?”
“Strongly?” “Moderately?” etc.
I think a lot of Americans would feel blind-sided by that, that it was “a trick question.” And my impression is that Europeans would mostly not feel tricked in the same way.