Why Nationalism is Always Bad



The Lou Dobbs variety of nationalism is particularly dangerous.

CNN’s commentator, Lou Dobbs has found his niche. He’s the populist jingoist who’s not on Fox. From a business point of view I’m sure the CNN big wigs tell themselves he’s part of their strategy to compete with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly et al. I’m already on record bashing Fox but I haven’t blogged about Lou Dobbs.

Dobbs is an asshole because he appeals to base nationalism. He’s against free trade, blaming it – incorrectly – for all our country’s economic woes. He’s against immigrants (he saves his most vitriolic comments for “illegals” but his sentiments are clear just below the surface) – the human face of free trade and globalization. He rails about the “war on the middle class.” He accuses politicians of being traitors because they won’t erect a bigger wall along the Mexican border or because they favor this or that trade agreement.

He’s against the war in Iraq but not because of any sense of outrage about the war itself or even because he opposed it from the start. Rather he opposes it only because of how it has played out. He not against invading countries for no good reason. He’s against not winning. He’s completely ignorant about the constitution but rails about Americans’ “rights” and how we deserve a “government that works.” He constantly confuses the policies he likes with objectively perfect policies that only a cynical crook or a traitor would oppose.

The Lou Dobbs variety of nationalism is particularly dangerous. While he doesn’t have the animated flags waving all over his TV studio, he’s appealing to the same base prejudices and hatreds as the Fox News flag wavers.

At the same time, he encourages the kind of bitter resignation and frustration often expressed by US West. By so convincing intelligent people to give up, he leaves the country in the hands of the true cynics.

The Law Talking Guy said…

My reaction after watching Lou Dobbs for two afternoons in the hospital was that he’s just a dumb, old bigot whose interview style constists of horribly loaded questions and leaps to comfortable, prejudiced conclusions. Bottom line, Lou Dobbs is actually worse than the folks I’ve seen on Fox News who are at least decent propagandists.

History Buff said…

I find it interesting that you’re bashing him for being against free trade, I thought from previous posts that you were against it too.

I personally believe in free trade, especially in our hemisphere. I think it’s very disappointing that Congress let the free trade agreement with Columbia lapse, I think it was helping them turn things around.

I also think that our immigration policy needs to open a lot more spots for unskilled laborers (right now I think the number is around 2000 to 3000 which is paltry.) That way they can come here legally, and probably get better pay, which would be good for all workers. I go out to all of the housing developments in San Antonio every quarter and the vast majority of workers are immigrants and they are all working their butts off.

I think anyone that thinks that immigrants come here for a free ride have forgotten about the American Dream that all immigrants have–to get ahead and make a better life for their children.

But the reason why people like Lou Dobbs are popular is because people are anxious, everything is changing and most people can’t handle change, especially people above the age of 30. Lou Dobbs is advocating going back to the old ways and shutting our doors. This type of thinking is permeating throughout US society. The best thing that people who are adaptable can do is not to become cynical, we are the country’s best hope.

Raised By Republicans said…

History Buff,

You may be confusing me with LTG. He’s not only deeply suspicious of international trade but of capitalism itself. I’m very pro-free trade and pro-capitalism and have posted numerous things on this blog to that effect.

I have posted a number of things criticising the Republican bastardization of capitalism that amounts to a kind of corpratist cleptocracy. While I think a sound regulatory state is neccessary for the smooth functioning of capitalism I still think we need capitalism as the foundation of our economy.

At the same time, I realize there are people who are hurt by trade. But they are always in the minority and the best way to help them is not to cut off trade but rather to use the increased prosperity the rest of us enjoy to compensate them.

I think Bill Clinton summed it up very well in his interview for the PBS Frontline series on the “Commanding Heights.”

Bill Clinton: It may not solve all our problems but it is absolutely neccessary.
Interviewer: What is?
Clinton: TRADE! (emphasis in the original)

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