About a year ago, when Brad Paisley released his song ‘Accidental Racist,’ he was attempting to address the misconceptions of “Southern Pride.” While Paisley did manage to spark a national dialogue on the issue, his song didn’t bridge any major social gaps. One of the lines in the beginning of the song states, “When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan.” The t-shirt is a reference the Confederate flag, a staple of the band, seen by some as representing a legacy of slavery and racism.
Southern pride is a small but powerful example of the strength of nationalism, but nationalism doesn’t always have to be a negative sentiment. The Olympics allow countries around the world to show off their best athletes without the threat of violence. This year’s Olympics have brought a fair share of scandals, but the athletes have been making the best of it despite warm weather and extreme security measures.
Nationalism allows people to take pride in the accomplishments of their country and its citizens, and allows people access to an identity much larger than themselves. National pride is also the reason there is so much division in politics—everyone has a very personal stake in the direction their country develops. But when does national pride become prejudice?
Believing your country is the best is fine until laws targeting other nations and ethnic groups begin to arise. Anti-immigration laws and others which restrict freedoms for specific people are just a few different types of targeted laws. For example, laws prohibiting religious clothing don’t affect certain religious denominations as much as they may affect Muslims who have more restrictions on acceptable clothing.
The internet allows news to travel around the world instantaneously and governments and individuals are now more accountable than ever before. Social media has exposed corrupt governments and brought schoolyard bullies out in the open. The next generation of national politics needs to consider the international community almost as much as its own or risk serious economic consequences.