Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

The McKelvy House Scholars invite the campus to join a dinner discussion about nationalism and patriotism Sunday evening.

Dinner will begin 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street; no reservations are required. Led by McKelvy Scholar Brendan O’Regan ’06 (Ringwood, N.J.), a government and law major, the discussion will start at 6:30 p.m.

“More than often, we are aware of nationalism and embrace patriotism. On the other hand, it is not at all easy to distinguish one kind of ‘ism’ from the other,” he says.

O’Regan asks participants to think about the meanings of the two words and the stereotypes associated with each, relating them to the world, whether past or present, and if possible expanding them beyond North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

He poses the following questions to consider:

  • Is one group’s patriotism always perceived by another as nationalism?
  • Is nationalism, more than often, the cause of conflicts and wars?
  • Is patriotism more desirable than nationalism, or vice versa? Under what conditions does that claim hold?
  • Or, can/should patriotism and nationalism, both being ‘isms,’ be endorsed or tolerated at all?
  • Are patriotism and nationalism contradicting ideologies, or are they mutually supportive and generative?
  • Why is there patriotism and nationalism? Are they rooted in nations, ethnicities, or collective identities/interests?
  • How do they affect our ordinary life, i.e. the interaction between people, the alienation/marginalization of some people, the hero worship or consecration of other individuals, etc?
  • Is it possible to live without those forms of ‘isms?’ If not, why is it? If so, then what other identities, if any, do we need?

“Think of nationalism on a local level; a nation has to be homogenized,” says O’Regan. “Thusly, a nation with many groups may have trouble promoting nationalism. Therefore, in polyarchic nations, is patriotism the only means by which to create a “nationalistic” (in the sense that the nation is united) movement amongst its many groups?”

He asks participants to read about a case on the pledge of allegiance, (West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette 319 v. 624 (1943)), to focus the discussion “on something tangible and close to our hearts.” The case provides background on the government’s interest in promoting nationalism or patriotism.

“The debate evolves as follows: Should the U.S, disregarding all prior rulings, enact legislation to promote patriotism/nationalism in the modern era to help eradicate dissidents?” says O’Regan. “Should the U.S. sacrifice certain fundamental rights in order to secure a unified nation to stand in the face of its adversaries?”

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday discussions have been added this school year. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:
Feb. 27 – Human emotion
Feb. 13 – Rationale Behind Military Duty
Feb. 9 – Ghosts
Feb. 2 – Death
Dec. 4 – Mind and brain
Nov. 21 – State of music industry
Nov. 14 – Consistent moral arguments
Nov. 7 – Privilege
Oct. 24 – Modern religion
Oct. 17 – Capital punishment
Oct. 3 – Revenge
Sept. 26 – Suicide
Sept. 22 – Sexual lust
Sept. 15 – Envy
Sept. 12 – Themes from A Clockwork Orange
Sept. 8 – Materialism, satisfaction, and poverty
Sept. 5 – Obesity in America

April 25 — Anti-foundationalist critique of philosophy
April 18 – Dark humor
April 11 — Cults
April 4 — Link between ethical behavior and intelligence

March 28 — Five Images of Man

March 7 — Idealized body forms

Feb. 22 — Countercultures

Feb. 15 — Eternity

Feb. 8 — Bisexuality

Dec. 7 — Anger toward computers and technology

Nov. 9 — “Unnecessary” crimes

Nov. 2 — Genetic alteration

Oct. 26 — Social construction of gender

Oct. 19 — Greed as an economic force
Sept. 28 — Value

Categorized in: Academic News