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Letter: Healthy nationalism can unite us; Tradewar makes no sense

Healthy nationalism can unite us

We need to understand the words we use, and we should strive to use our words carefully and honestly. In these partisan times, too frequently words or concepts end up ill-defined or misused intentionally or by casual error.

The misuse of words and general concepts, along with hyperbole, broad generalizations, stereotypes, labels and name-calling, harms public dialogue. We cannot let propaganda take the place of reasoned, well-informed, honest, open public discourse. We can't allow emotions to rule over reason. We need to throw away our political parties' talking points.

In a recent letter, the writer calls nationalism "the door to destruction for the USA," claiming, "It is not about patriotism and loyalty and honor. It is about authority and blind obedience and giving up control of your life." The letter also references Adolf Hitler's use of nationalism to "isolate and conquer."

First, what the writer describes as nationalism is, in fact, totalitarianism. Totalitarianism gave the world Stalin and Hitler.

Second, nationalism is a body of ideas, and as such, takes more than one form. Examples: ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism—two very different things.

Ethnic nationalism is regressive with a restrictive, exclusive focus on the idea that all people in a nation should share one common ancestry, language and religion. There is no room for diversity of any kind.

Ethnic nationalism is not only hateful and backward thinking, it is completely impractical in today's world, where every day we can freely communicate and make friends with people from all corners of the globe.

On the other hand, civic nationalism recognizes the idea of shared values and basic national interests, serving the common good, promoting inclusion and diversity—along with a respect and love of a common country and support for its defense.

Civic nationalism when nurtured can unify and strengthen; it can hold us together during difficult or troubling times. Civic nationalism can be a powerful positive force, and we need only look at modern history to see that this is so. It was the common cause of civic nationalism that motivated and sustained those American men and women who served in the very war that put an end to that heinous totalitarian monster Hitler.

Patricia Allende de Jung

Rochester

Tradewar makes no sense

"They're all aiming at anybody that likes me," President Donald Trump said, but he argued he had no choice but to take advantage of the economy's strength to pick a fight with trade powers that he said had been "ripping us off for decades."

When one reads this statement it doesn't make any sense unless your goal is to jeopardize the wellbeing and future of the United States. Taking advantage of the economy's strength to start a trade war has more to do with something other than the good of the citizens of the U.S.A.

If the economy is strong, why would the administration want to get greedy and take the chance of disrupting it, unless that is the goal?

It reminds me of this farmer friend of mine. The bank wanted its money so they told the farmer to sell his corn and beans at harvest price. The farmer knew it was going to be just enough to pay the bank and nothing left for the farmer but the bank wanted its money. Everyone knows: "When one borrows money from a questionable source sometimes it's time to pay the piper." In this case, Putin?

Tony Huppert

Spring Valley, Wis.

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