By Bryan Caplan
We’ve grown up together. In a sense, you and I have been together our whole lives. In a deeper sense, though, we’ve never been together. I’ve tried to let you down easy a hundred times. But subtlety doesn’t work on you, Nationalism. I don’t want to hurt you. But Nationalism, you’re constantly hurting me. The only way to protect myself, I’m afraid, is to tell you how I feel, loud and clear.
I know that I was born inside “your” national borders. But I don’t love you, Nationalism. I don’t even like you. I don’t want “patriotic solidarity” with you. I want you to leave me alone. Stop acting like you own me. Stop calling me. I don’t want to be with you. The mere fact that I haven’t fled the country doesn’t turn my “No” into a “Yes.”
Do you know what you’re like, Nationalism? You’re like medieval Religion. In the bad old days, authorities assigned people a religion – and effectively forbade them quit. Sometimes quitting was itself a crime. In other cases, Religion expelled its exes from the country. The common theme: Religion didn’t take no for an answer.
In hindsight, the past abusiveness of Religion is plain. But you’re no better, Nationalism. Violation is a way of life for you. You’re as unwilling to take no for an answer as the intolerant Religion of yesteryear.
Nationalism, I know you’re itching to lecture me about how you’re better than all the other Nationalisms out there. That may be true, but it’s no excuse for the way you treat me. Stop talking like you own the house I live in, the air I breathe, or me. You don’t. You never did. Frankly, Nationalism, you make my flesh crawl.
Am I cruel? No crueler than I have to be to make my wishes known. There are plenty of fish in the sea, Nationalism. Lots of them love you already. Go have patriotic solidarity with them. Just leave me out of it. Goodbye.