In President Bush’s statements the night of September 11, 2001, there are strong nationalist undertones, however, he ends on a spiritual note. This, to me, is where the weight of his message falls. After using the word “evil” to describe the attacks on the tower throughout his remarks, he concludes with Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.” What does this statement suggest in a post-911 America? How are nationalism and religion still competing as cultural systems in America? Anderson says “It is the magic of nationalism to turn chance into destiny” (12). Does this magic still act on us in the same way?
I am also interested in the qualities of patriotism versus nationalism, particularly in the production of patriotism post-911. How is nationalism alike and unalike patriotism? If nationalism is an internal recognition of an external reality, albeit imagined, can patriotism be seen as nationalism turned inside out? To what degree is patriotism an attempt to adorn a disappointing reality with the trappings of pride and nationalism in order to create a sign system through which the individual can imagine the nation, but not necessarily internalize it. “Beneath the decline of sacred communities, languages and lineages, a fundamental change was taking place in modes of apprehending the world, which, more than anything else, made it possible to ‘think’ the nation” (22). How does patriotism take advantage of modes of apprehending in our media saturated society in a manner that forces us to think the nation, even as we may no longer believe in one?