Colonialist sentiment at heart of “American jihad” proposal

How do Americans justify nationalism? A recent opinion article featured on discussed the need for an “American jihad”—one in which we spread the knowledge and the laws of our Constitution to the rest of the world. Psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow holds a deeply ingrained sense of nationalism that he uses to justify a disguised form of imperialism. “An American jihad would embrace the correct belief that if every nation on earth were governed … by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place,” he said.

He has so much blind faith in America’s wholly righteous laws that he leaves no room for alternative philosophies, religions or governments. His allusions to our “God-given right” of Manifest Destiny are nearly colonial in nature. It is unbelievable that, after a long, conflict-ridden history, one would have no qualms about the essential structure of America’s government and its prior influence on other countries.

At a time when no political party can satisfy health care, the economy or social issues, it could be expected that nationalism would weaken. The uncertainty of conflict with the Islamic State and America’s heavy leadership role in foreign affairs brings strain upon our trust in government. How can the facts about our far-from-perfect country be ignored while sustaining unadulterated admiration?

Ablow ironically touts America’s past success in combating fascism and communism, yet his ideas for a global take-over are theoretically fascist. Ablow has no factual or strategic basis for his claims, only his passionate and somewhat unnerving devotion to nationalism with a hint of religious fervor.

The American jihad is not an innocent plan to share knowledge with the world; it is culturally and religiously intolerant. Ablow’s use of the term “jihad” is an intentional parallel to Islam. During the FOX News segment discussing Ablow’s article, journalist Anna Kooiman said, “The folks that are saying Allahu Akbar are worshipping a far-different God than the God that I worship.” FOX News has been previously called out for Islamophobic content––Ablow’s segment is no different. Kooiman’s remarks show painful ignorance about the core beliefs of Islam, spoken in a disapproving and disgusted tone.

American politics are often extremely discriminatory against Muslims. Ablow would most likely condemn an ideological global takeover by a Muslim-majority country such as Turkey, yet insists America deserves to do so while appropriating an Islamic term. The Christian ideas such as “God-given right” that he uses to describe his jihad are a strategic insult to Islam and religious tolerance.

Although there is little chance of Ablow’s jihadist goals happening on his desired scale, it is important to recognize how the mere idea of it is damaging. It is not wrong to be a nationalist, but it is problematic to ignore the shortfalls, inconsistencies and injustices of a government or country in order to push a radical political agenda.

Nationalism should not encourage global Americanization––for Ablow to be praised as a hero bringing democracy to the world is a giant red flag. Ablow uses language that parallel a religious crusade, a use that the supposedly secular America should do without.

Americans are allowed to be critical of our country; that is a core American belief. The way we view America compared to the rest of the world, however, is often dripping with narcissism. Ablow recognizes problems in other countries, yet ignores the problems in his own. His outrageous ideas for the spread of knowledge only add to America’s flaws of extreme nationalism and ignorance.