French President Emmanuel Macron denounces nationalism in front of Trump

The French president delivered a speech denouncing nationalism while President Trump sat nearby

Published November 11, 2018 1:00PM (EST)

 (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced President Donald Trump's recent praise for nationalism in a speech for world leaders gathered for Paris for Armistice commemorations... and with Trump himself in ear shot.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," Macron told the audience, according to Reuters. He elaborated, "By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values."

Trump did not have an immediate response to Macron's comments, although he did state in a tweet posted around the time of the commemorative event that it was a "beautiful ceremony today in Paris commemorating the end of World War One. Many World leaders in attendance. Thank you to @EmmanuelMacron, President of France! Now off to Suresnes American Cemetery to make speech in honor of our great heroes! Then back to the U.S.A."

In a speech delivered at a Houston rally on Monday, Trump had described himself as a nationalist. After pointing out that "really, we’re not supposed to use that word," Trump doubled down on the controversial term.

"You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, O.K.? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist! Use that word! Use that word!" Trump told the cheering crowd. He also contrasted his philosophy with that of so-called "globalists," arguing that "radical Democrats" wanted to bring back the "rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists."

He added, "You know what a globalist is, right? You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that."

The following day, when asked whether he thought it was appropriate to use the term given its association with racist movements, Trump said "I never heard that theory about being a nationalist." He also claimed that he was merely "somebody who loves our country" and essentially repeated his remarks from the Houston rally.

"I am a nationalist. It’s a word that hasn’t been used too much. Some people use it, but I’m very proud. I think it should be brought back," Trump told the White House reporters.

The use of these terms was controversial because "nationalist" has recently been associated with far right regimes like those of Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy and Francisco Franco in Spain. Meanwhile the term "globalist" has been frequently used as a code word for Jews, with the underlying argument being the anti-Semitic myth that Jews are insufficiently loyal to their countries of origin and instead want to create a "global" community. Despite (or perhaps because of) these associations, Trump has embraced both terms, which were popularized among the far right by publications like Breitbart.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He specializes in covering science and history, and is particularly passionate about climate change, animal science, disability rights, plastic pollution and a wide range of political issues. He has interviewed many prominent figures (reflecting his diverse interests) including President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin (2002-present), comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2") and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron Nationalism