Comedian Sarah Silverman addressed the topic of American nationalism during a monologue on her Hulu talk show Thursday night, describing the “visceral reaction” and fear she felt when an old boyfriend of hers hoisted an American flag on his own property.
“I had a boyfriend many years ago, he was my first boyfriend who had his own house, and one day I went outside to see what he was doing, and he was hoisting an American flag up the flagpole in his front yard,” Ms. Silverman said. “And I instantly felt very weird. It didn’t make sense, but I felt … scared.”
The talk-show host said she immediately questioned her boyfriend’s motives, to which he responded, “Um, because I love America?”
“I was like, ‘Right, right, of course,’ but inside I was shaken,” Ms. Silverman recalled.
“I had no idea why I was freaking out,” she said, so she called her sister, a rabbi in Israel, to try to understand her feelings better.
“[My sister] was like, ‘Dude, nationalism is innately terrifying for Jews. Think about it: flags, marching, blind allegiance — these things tend to ring a bell for us,’” she said. “Right. Of course. Duh. It made sense. And it made me realize that the things that terrify some people are the same things that give other people great comfort. It’s like the way the sight of a police car might give some people comfort, for instance, white people.”
Ms. Silverman went on to criticize President Trump’s “nationalist” slogans like “Make America Great Again” and “America First” as problematic because they “exploit patriotism” and indicate that America is “No. 1” without acknowledging the need for change.
“As patriots, I think we should strive to see ourselves in each other, whereas I feel that the nationalist view is to see yourself and then others,” she said. “There’s a willing blindness in saying, ‘We’re No. 1.’”
“I fear that ‘We’re No. 1’ nationalism is really like an old bed buddy of racism and xenophobia,” she added.
She later said that while she “can get behind the flag,” she can’t accept the “We’re No. 1” vibe as genuine patriotism.
“It’s tacky,” she said.
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