This Land So Fair and Free

John Buchanan’s post for The Fourth of July speaks for me by differentiating clearly between patriotism and nationalism and by applying the difference to the voices in America today.

Hold to the Good

Nationalism seems like it ought to be synonymous with patriotism but nationalism is actually very different and much more than patriotism. Webster defines patriotism as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” Nationalism, according to the dictionary, is “exalting one nation above all others, promoting its culture and interests as opposed to other nations or supranational groups.” Nationalism is patriotism with a hard edge, sometimes a nasty edge, dangerous even. It is difficult to overestimate the power of nationalism, the superiority of one’s own nation. Adolf Hitler was a master at appealing to and manipulating the latent nationalism of the German people, convincing millions that theirs was a “master race”, entitled to rule and that people of other nationalities and ethnic groups were inferior; in the case of the Jewish people, not entitled to exist. Vladimir Putin has fanned the flames of Russian nationalism and the paranoia that accompanies it…

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About Gordon C. Stewart

I've always liked quiet. And, like most people, I've experienced the world's madness. "Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness" (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Jan. 2017) distills 47 years of experiencing stillness and madness as a campus minister and Presbyterian pastor (IL, WI, NY, OH, and MN), poverty criminal law firm executive director, and social commentator. Our dog Barclay reminds me to calm down and be much more still than I would be without him.

7 thoughts on “This Land So Fair and Free

  1. Some musing on patriotism, fortunately by others, who express it better, and certainly in fewer words than I.

    True patriot, Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri, in a debate said:
    “The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming ‘My country, right or wrong.’ In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. Feb. 29, 1872.

    Schurz expanded on this theme in a speech delivered at the Anti-Imperialistic Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 17, 1899: “I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’”—Schurz, “The Policy of Imperialism,” Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 6, pp. 119–20 (1913).


    I also like to bear in mind some phrases from verses 2 and 3 of the wonderful patriotic song “America the Beautiful”.

    “America! America! / God mend thine every flaw / Confirm thy soul in self-control, / Thy liberty in law!”

    “America! America! / May God thy gold refine / Till [‘Til] all success be nobleness / And every gain divine!



      • I think I saw a revision of my first paragraph, which, however, is now as I wrote it, I think. But I followed the link and saw you had made a separate entry for it. I kept the quotation marks, but did not give the source of them. I hope this will be considered justifiable reuse. I’m not certain how one would copyright material that old, but someone may have found a way. However that may be, thanks for the honor of giving me a reblog, if that is the correct expression 😉.


  2. Thanks for this. Right now in writing “My Father’s House” I have him celebrating the 4th of July as a newcomer delighted to be here. It reminds of the pride I used to have. I liked this shared article. I like celebrating my country. I like the distinction between patriotism and Nationalism. I like the prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

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