Almost immediately after I published the post titled "The good, the bad and the misguided", my inbox began overflowing with emails, some of support but most of shallow critisism; one of which even went so far as to call me a liar. In reading through the bunch of "fan mail" I receieved, I began to get a clearer image of what the average Emarati's thought process is like. It is scary to hear such deluded interpretations of 'patriotism' from young Emarati people. My dear brothers and sisters, don't confuse patriotism with nationalism, the latter is rife with racism and double standards and I don't advocate this sort of jingoism in the name of the former (overt and blind patriotism). Don't allow anyone to paint you into a corner by using an emotive term like patriotism to belittle your ideas or values. Yes, my dear brethren, it is possible to show you love your country in other ways instead of blind fury against country X. That being said, let's take a brief look at the two, shall we?
Patriotism: noun: love for or devotion to one's country
Nationalism: noun: loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups
Nationalism more often than not translates into racism and in turn a sense of superiority. You see, the fundamental things about the UAE that inspire patriotism are its dedication to excellence and promotion of freedom. While nationalism is a violation of these very prinicples, patriotism embodies and upholds them. Ignorance of the essential difference between these two attributes has apparently allowed many to slip across the divide unaware of their own narrow-mindedness. While I don't advocate blatant racism in the name of nationalism, I certainly don't oppose patriotism. People need to distinguish between pride, the love of one's country, and patriotism, the blind and stupid obedience thereof. I think it is possible to love a country without having to resort to historical fictions or cross-border hatred. I love my country but I don't have to love it blindly or in defence against another country to be able to appreciate it. I'm going to sound redundant and repetitive by saying this, but that's okay. There's nothing wrong with loving your country, people, culture, or food of course - within limits. But I've always been suspicious of rampant nationalism or patriotism - they too often lead people to do nasty things to each other. It's not that I have to ignore negative political or cultural aspects in order to love it. Those are part of her realities; those are the scars and sores that I acknowledge and yet still I embrace her.
Lately though, my Emarati identity seems to have been subsumed by my American identity. Underneath the weight of these behemoths, emaratiness seems to have been whittled down to the color of my skin, an occasional break-out in Arabic lyrics, and a love for biryani. Still, to those who addressed my American heritage as being more dominant, I'll say this. Politics aside, nothing makes the land of my mother superior to that of my father. I love bits of both in equal measure but I don't look down on those who don't belong to either. I also don't think it appropriate to use a certain people to better whichever country I hail from overlooking their rights in the process. In practical terms, it meant not taking up the post I was asked to because I knew it, the administration knew it, as did my boss - I am neither fit nor ready for that kind of a responsibility. Not to mention, of the two of us who was better suited for it. This is in response to those who said I didn't have the "betterment of the country" at heart and was being "unnationalistic". Sure, I was.
I point out the wrongs and applaud the rights. That is patriotism, in my book. Let's also not forget the greatest racial extermination in history... that of the Native Americans in the United States. So it all boils down to the good, the bad and the misguided - the three categories may be found everywhere, not just the UAE. And it's the patriot in me talking when I say I wish to abolish the hatred caused in the wake of these groups.
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” - Charles de Gaulle
My two cents - no need to be afraid of my opinion.
E - N&D
My next post will be touching on the situation of prejudice between those of different ancestry which may not be as intense or as drastic as it is in other nations, but that certainly does not mean that it isn’t a problem.