French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday decried the rise of nationalism even as Donald Trump, who has proudly declared himself a “nationalist,” sat nearby.
As Reuters reports, Macron, speaking from underneath Paris’ famed Arc de Triomphe to honor the 70th anniversary of the end of World War I, warned of repeating the mistakes that led to war in Europe in the first place.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”
Ostensibly, Macron’s speech was a warning to Europe, which is itself seeing a rise in far-right nationalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic groups. In France especially, Macron’s own En Marche (“Working”) party is losing ground to the right-wing National Rally (previously known as National Front). Elsewhere in Europe, far right-wing Nationalist parties are seeing a resurgence in places such as Italy, Hungary, Poland, Austria, and Slovenia, among others.
And it’s not just in Europe, either. Far-right nationalist parties and politicians have also started gaining ground in Turkey, Brazil, and the Philippines. It’s been going on in Russia for a decade if not longer.
“History sometimes threatens to repeat its tragic patterns, and undermine the legacy of peace we thought we had sealed with the blood of our ancestors”
But while Macron was warning Europe about nationalism, sitting nearby was Donald Trump, who has himself proudly declared himself a nationalist and whose rhetoric, some of it anyway, echoes that of the far-right nationalist movement. And as Macron was railing against nationalism, Donald Trump, listening to the speech via a translator earpiece, sat “stone-faced,” as Reuters describes it.
President Trump and other world leaders mark 100 years since the end of World War I. French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech opposing the rise of populism and warning that the "ancient demons" that caused the war are growing stronger https://t.co/K5Xjp4Db8o pic.twitter.com/zF0InfQevF— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 11, 2018
As The Washington Post notes, Trump checks several of the boxes when it comes to meeting the definition of a far-right nationalism — besides proudly declaring himself one, of course. He has, for example, removed — or attempted to remove — the U.S. from various international treaties, such as the Paris climate accord or the Iran nuclear deal. He has also unabashedly pushed “America First” policies and rhetoric.
Similarly, Trump in October explained exactly what he meant when he described himself as a “nationalist.”
“We’re giving all of our wealth, all of our money, to other countries and then they don’t treat us properly. For many years other countries that are allies of ours… they have not treated our country fairly. So in that sense, I am absolutely a nationalist and I’m proud of it.”
Unfortunately, in Europe anyway, the term “nationalist” carries with it some baggage, including the fierce anti-Semitism that plagued Nazi Germany, and which to this day continues, in some form or another, across parts of Europe.