On Air: How do you define nationality?

What defines your nationality? Is it language? A set of values you believe in? Where you were born? Where your parents were born? Or is it simply the passport you hold? Sparked off by Barack Obama’s quest to prove that he’s “American enough” to be President this is what we’ll be discussing on the programme tonight. Help us reach a definition by the end of the show on what defines nationality. Check out the post below for some ideas to get you started.

226 Responses to “On Air: How do you define nationality?”

  1. 1 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 13:08

    what defines your nationality?

    Self-Serving and Ignorance, there are of course defining factors which are positive, but those were the first two to pop into my head.

    Is it language?
    Well with Spanish nipping at the heels of English, I would say that English very loosely defines being American, many many other countries speak it as well.

    A set of values you believe in?
    Not really, Americans have differing values.

    Or is it simply the passport you hold?
    I hope not, I don’t hold a passport!

  2. 2 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 13:12

    @ Brett

    That’s ironic, you’re one of those “ignorant” americans that the far left whines about because you don’t have a passport. Apparently you’re worthless and cultureless because you don’t “see the world” hence you are insular and your are a worthless person. Gotta love the far left elitists.

  3. 3 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 13:16

    Of course! I’m American! What do you expect?! 😉

  4. 4 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 13:21

    May I add entitlement and greed to that list? 😉

  5. 5 Katharina in Ghent
    August 26, 2008 at 13:30

    What defines my nationality? It’s where I was born AND grew up, the second part playing a much more important part than the first. My son grows up in Belgium, hence he believes he’s Belgian, while he actually holds an Austrian and a Canadian passport. (Imagine that, Brett, TWO!) I don’t yodle and don’t wear Lederhosen or those “cute” Dirndl-dresses, and I’m generally quite critical of Austria, but still I see it as “my country” even though I haven’t lived there for years.

  6. 6 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 13:31

    Well if it’s language that’s the rule, I see so much spanish on the busses and advertisements around here, I must be in Spain!

    I would have to say the answer is pretty obvious, your nationality is determined by where you are a legal citizen of. Not just resident, as you can be a citizen of one country, but live in another country. And none of this world citizen garbage, there are plenty of other places I would like to live in, but I follow the rules and am not entitled to live where I feel like living.

  7. 7 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 13:31

    Maybe Nationality is more closely defined by a state of mind, or style of life; Relative to the place you were born or grew up, and at times reflecting common beliefs or values of that community or society.

  8. 8 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 13:33


    I was somewhat kojing earlier when I spoke about being an American. I believe I live in the greatest country in the world. Additionally, I am more concerned about events that affect the U.S. more than events that affect other nations. The media bias, in the States, makes it easy to be ignorant. Unless you go out and search for news about events in other countries, you will be ignorant. Also, my passport is expired but I am going to get a new one.

    I have traveled to other countries, enjoy learning about different cultures, and being informed about world events. Most of the people I know are not like that. I think it depends how you were raised but Brett’s description of “most” or a “stereotypical” American is very accurate. In my opinion.

  9. 9 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 13:42

    Sparked off by Barack Obama’s quest to prove that he’s “American enough”
    Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. Were his name Frank Jones or some “American” sounding name this may be less of an issue.
    Or the American Flag Lapel Pin…. Oh if he just would have worn it, he would have been undoubtedly American, the proof would have just been right there on his chest for everyone to see.

    “See world? American!”

    [sigh of relief from the audience]

  10. 10 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 13:45

    @ Brett

    That Obama has a quest to prove he’s “American enough” is a reflection of HIS insecurities. Let’s presume that Larry Craig really is straight, him going on th eair and denying he’s a homosexual at all, makes him seem pretty insecure. I mean, why do you have to prove anything to anyone?

  11. 11 Sheikh Kafumba Dukuly
    August 26, 2008 at 13:45

    Nationality should be defined in the context of where one finds comfortable to ensure his survival and engender his aspiration and not necessarily where one is born.

  12. 12 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 13:48

    @ Angela

    “I have traveled to other countries, enjoy learning about different cultures, and being informed about world events. Most of the people I know are not like that.”

    So it someone who doesn’t travel, who doesn’t care to learn about different cultures, and who isn’t overly concerned with world events some how less of a person?

    A lot of the “cultured, travelled” etc people are the same ones that would criticize NASA for exploring space while someone’s starving in Botswana. It’s a shame people are starving, but the quest for knowledge is important and the elitist types would stop exploration to make people dependent upon food faid. Again, give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.

  13. 13 Devra Lawrence-Jamaica
    August 26, 2008 at 13:49

    Morning all.

    I think nationality is a way of life, the ‘land of my birth’ as Eric Donaldson puts it in his song about Jamaica. It’s who I am, the people I am apart of, and the lifestyle which I have grown to know and become accustomed to.

  14. 14 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 13:54

    That Obama has a quest to prove he’s “American enough” is a reflection of HIS insecurities.

    Is it not a result of the idiots who had nothing more to jump on than he not wearing his mandatory Ammurican Flag pin?

  15. 15 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 13:58


    I was merely stating that I am an American; therefore, my first allegiance is to America. I try to stay informed about world events. However, most of the people I work with don’t care about Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, or Asia. I thought I would be around more cultured indivuduals, in this town, but the people I have met here are less informed than most people I know down South. I can’t have a conversation about world events with anyone here, which is why I enjoy the BBC. It is funny because most of the people I am around are very intelligent but extremely ignorant.

    I do not agree with giving people handouts. I think we should help people help themselves, rather than support them. I am definitely not an elitist and I would always promote science, since it is my background.

    I know some people who travel a lot but don’t care about anything

  16. 16 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 14:03

    The whole Obama not being American enough is so old. This country was founded by immigrants who loved this country and still had ties to their homeland. I don’t trust people that have to put out articles to prove they are religious or patriotic. I don’t put out an American flag during the 4th of July, does that mean I am not patriotic. I know people who have bibles on their desk, so people will think they are religious and live by some moral ground, and those are the same people you should never trust. I am black but I don’t wear it on my sleeve to show all of my pride, just like I don’t wear a pin depicting my patriotism.

  17. 17 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 14:08

    @ Brett

    “Is it not a result of the idiots who had nothing more to jump on than he not wearing his mandatory Ammurican Flag pin?”

    Nope. It’s like if someone called you gay, and you decided to go skydiving to “prove your manhood”. You did it our of insecurity, and trying to prove something to others. If he were secure, he wouldn’t care.

  18. 18 Brett
    August 26, 2008 at 14:11

    If he were secure, he wouldn’t care.
    But the die-hard Ammuricans would… And he needs votes. Without them he’s likely to be a secure man who lost the race because of his security.

  19. August 26, 2008 at 14:12

    Nationality means belonging to a country and being proud of it despite its shortcomings. It means having a sense of identity through it and contrasting it with other nationalities for tolerance and not bigotry.

    Perhaps the most exposed to the question of defining their nationalities are the immigrants who keep their link to their country of origin although the country where they have settled treat them as full nationals. There are also those who have double nationality and find it a dilemma which side to take when there is a conflict between the countries whose nationality they held.

    Deep down one defines one’s nationality through a region in the country one belongs to. It’s through it that one sees his true identity.

    Nationality is necessary. Without it, people will have little to link them. It is through it that they adapt to values and try defend and live by them.

  20. 20 Katharina in Ghent
    August 26, 2008 at 14:14

    @ Steve / Insecurity

    But isn’t there a difference between whether you have to prove it to yourself (= skydiving) or to a whole nation? You can be the country’s greatest patriot, but if the electorate believes that you’re not, then you’ve lost the election.

  21. 21 Robert
    August 26, 2008 at 14:14

    It means different things to different people under different circumstances but isn’t it really just the feeling of connection to a community.

    Sometimes I think of myself as a Northerner (my UK base is Teesside) other times I’m simply English. Sometimes I feel British defines me more and other times I’ll call myself a European. The above are always correct and not non are contradictory, but at different times and in discussions one of the four seems to fit nicer.

  22. 22 parth guragain
    August 26, 2008 at 14:27

    this is very tough thing to answer.with globalisation and mass migration of people from one place to another there is increasing amount of hostility between local and migrant.people seem to define their nationality in present world mainly according to their benifits.

  23. 23 Julie P
    August 26, 2008 at 14:29

    Nationality is what gives a person sense of identity in relation to where they live, shared history, where their heritage came, and other intangibles that a person deems important.

  24. 24 selena
    August 26, 2008 at 14:30

    Nationalism is the means by which governments keep its citizens off guard and toeing the line.

    We are encouraged to think of our country as the greatest and to defend it against all opposition.

    We don’t make our decision to be nationalistic out of free will; we are indoctrinated from birth to believe our country is the best and to defend it unto death.

    Nationalism is a barrier to world peace!

  25. 25 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 14:38

    @ Selena

    I’m not sure of that. From all the cars I see with Mexican and Guatemalan flags on them, you’d think MExico or Guatemala were the greatest nations on earth, yet people had to leave those countries to make any sort of money while breaking the law at the same time. How great can a country be if breaking the law to wash dishes or pick lettuce is better than what your country has to offer you?

  26. 26 Katharina in Ghent
    August 26, 2008 at 14:45

    @ Steve

    It’s about remembering where you come from. Whether we like it or not, but this has a big impact of the type of person we become, and we can’t just shrug it off when we move to another country. “At home” will always be the place where you grew up, where you live now is just the place where you live and work, but it will never have the same feeling.

  27. 27 selena
    August 26, 2008 at 14:50

    @ Steve

    There are probably not many Mexicans who wouldn’t drop everything to defend their country if called upon to do so.

    What’s wrong with picking lettuce and washing dishes? It is good honest necessary work.

  28. 28 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 14:52

    @ Selena

    Who said there’s anything wrong with that? I’m just saying, how great can your country be if picking lettuce in the US is an “improvement”? Yet they still wave their flags, and have lots of pride, despite there being no economy where they are from.

  29. 29 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 14:54

    @ Katherina

    There’s a book called Stiking Back, by Peter Masters, an Austrian jew who moved to the UK before WW2, and was put in a friendly, enemy alien prison camp, then joined the British military to fight againt the Germans. He dealt with issues of being an Austrian, despite them wanting to kill him. Interesting book. I got an autographed copy of it before the author died.

  30. 30 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 15:03


    I agree with Katherina. Several of my friends are jewish and they have the isreali flag on their cars and displayed proudly in their house. Additionally, I see more Irish flags than anything else but people are just proud of their heritage, just like you are.

  31. August 26, 2008 at 15:04

    Hi WHYSers!

    I think I will agree with Derval Lawrence’s comments above, but would go a step further to add that, nationality is also a reflective process, in many respects. One has to, in some ways, also want to be considered a ‘national’.

    So that, there is an active projection of a defined self image in concert with a collective history, conscious and political culture. How we behave is, effectively, who were are.

    Here, in Jamaica there are certain considered features of the ‘national project’ which though not always stated we are expected to conform to. Among them, a dislike for certain concept

  32. August 26, 2008 at 15:13

    Oops! My post was incomplete…

    The last line should have read:

    a dislike as well as a like (or so we say!) for certain concepts of ‘morality’ and identity. Here, issues like Christianity gets alot of play despite the fact that the crime rate often seems to contradict that reality.

    A Jamaican must also, at least on the face of it, reflect certain political positions such as a manifest dislike for (male) homosexuality and abortion, etc. These are anti-thetical to the Christian ‘virtues’ upon which the state is founded, even if peoples’ actions are sometimes in contravention with these.

    And, of course, there is the blackness factor insofar as the majority are descended from Africans who were brought here as slaves during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade under British Colonialism.

    To disavow these ideas, specifically the question of ‘blackness’ as per the received wisdom of the ages, as well as to suggest that one is not anti-homosexual places one in the curious position of being considered ‘other’ – not Jamaican ‘enough’, if at all, as per the Obama statement.

  33. August 26, 2008 at 15:15

    PS: I have not (yet) received an email for today’s programme. What gives?

  34. 34 Sheikh Kafumba Dukuly
    August 26, 2008 at 15:21

    19 Abdelilah Boukili (Marrakesh, Morocco)
    August 26, 2008 at 2:12 pm.

    Like you struck the point on Immigrants. Many of them usually hold Dual Nationality. So then, nationality then broadens beyond a single territory on place of birth. Any place therefore that one is able to live harmoniously in pursuit of happiness forms part of his heritage and aspiration.

  35. 35 Keith
    August 26, 2008 at 15:22

    Way to stay on topic! 😉 lol right off the bat

  36. August 26, 2008 at 15:24

    Just sort of informative – you are allowed to have 2 nationality at the same if you are a Hong Kong citizen, that includes your identity and passports, etc. Take me as an example, I have a British passport (because my mum is a British Citizen), and I also hold a Hong Kong SAR passport at the same time (because I am a HKSAR citizen).

    I think although you have got papers of what nationality you are, you can also have an “emotional” nationality – just what you feels like to be. I live in Hong Kong and study in England, and I am a truly British citizen. When people ask me, I would say I am a Hong Kong person, then an English (mainly because I don’t have much “feeling” about England)

  37. 37 Keith
    August 26, 2008 at 15:26

    “I mean, why do you have to prove anything to anyone?”

    oh maybe because he’s RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT?

  38. 38 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 15:29

    @ Keith

    It’s not my fault he decided to run for president. If he can’t handle it, then he shouldn’t run.

  39. 39 Keith
    August 26, 2008 at 15:34

    Circular logic- the point is that he has to prove something because he’s running for president, and a bunch of republicans are accusing him of being a secret Muslim. If he doesn’t address the ridiculous claims that were printed in a book (number 1 NY Times best seller), you don’t think it’ll have an effect on his campaign? Negative campaigns work, buddy.

  40. 40 1430a
    August 26, 2008 at 15:36

    hello everyone,
    Well,for me nationality my cannot be defined by a pasport i hold.its not even the language or my colour.its the ‘official right to belong to a particular country’.thats what Obama has and so he is ‘An American’,and i think no one can take that away from him.
    I dont understand the need to keep on saying that he is not American enough to be a president?
    But,yes there have been instances when people have been stripped off their rights to belong to a country.people who have migrated off to a foreign land have not been given the right that a normal citizen bestows.


  41. 41 Keith
    August 26, 2008 at 15:40

    Being American enough for president means being rich, white, and male. Isn’t that what everyone thinks? 😛 (joking.)

  42. 42 Michael Redbourn
    August 26, 2008 at 15:47

    I wish I was going to be home for this debate but I will be at a barbecue.

    I have lived in several countries and never felt myself to be a citizen of any one of them, and in particular, not the one that I was born in.

    Natives of the countries that I lived in and I’m talking years and not months, always stopped me in the street after just a few days and asked me for directions etc and I find languages very easy.

    One thing is for sure and that is that you can’t be proud of being English, Chinese or of any other nationality just because you were born there since you were not responsible for it.

    You can move to a country and adopt its nationality and then be proud of it or you can be proud of a country’s achievments and say ‘I am proud of Germany because it makes wonderful cars etc.

    Sadly perhaps, Merceedes and VW are now at the bottom of the reliablilty list since they are no longer made in Germany so one could no longer say that of course 🙂


    P.S. I hold 3 passports legally.

  43. 43 rash
    August 26, 2008 at 15:51

    does it matter what nationalty you are, when the world we live in, has grown so small?isn’t it ironic to sit infront of a pc debating over what nationalty means to someone whilst it it predicted that in the future, the wars between countries would not be to defend themselves nor their religion etc, but for SURVIVAL?(see London Metro, 23rd February 2004, pg 5)

    i live in SriLanka, citizen of Maldives(with a valid passport) with future plans not to go back , but to migrate to elsewhere…yes there are emotional connections attached to my birth place, but that won’t stop me from going to another place to settle, where i can give a better future to my children if and whn that day comes. and for me nationalty is not an issue that would really impact my decisions.

    @ selena

    defnding your country should not make you a blind person to reality. and i think someone who can accept reality, will stand up for the truth.and when majority of people living in one country stands up for truth, that’s where you find that world peace can be achieved.easy to say, hard to do

  44. August 26, 2008 at 15:58

    I think the actual meaning of Nationality remains always same in all kinds of political systems and time period. No doubt today we are becoming global villagers because today’s world is boundary less world. But when Nationality comes then we want to belong to a single country rather than global village. Geography or place where we born, hold citizenship and passport and lives is the perfect indicator of Nationality.

    Although I strongly believe in “one world one people”, I feel more proud be a Nepali. Because I bonded with Nepal since my birth by different perspectives like origin, culture, language, affiliation, geography and etc…

    We have many examples of war and struggles happened because of Nationality. For true patriot Nationality is always first priority than any other else personal interests.

  45. 45 Kelsie
    August 26, 2008 at 15:59

    I’m ethnically South Korean but adopted by a U.S. family at 6 mos., so I’ve grown up in the U.S., speak its language, eat its food, and am pursuing a degree in its history. So I guess I define “nationality” in my case according to cultural values and contexts–certainly not ethnicity or descent.

  46. 46 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    August 26, 2008 at 16:02

    Hi, World Have Your Say Team,

    I was born and raised an American citizen in the USA. I married a Swiss, was given Swiss citizenship and moved to this country 25 years ago. I am now divorcing him but am remaining in my adopted country. I vote in every election I am entitled to vote in in both countries.

    My loyalty is not divided and I am patriotic to both my countries. For example, I am for legal immigration in the USA because I think it is good for America, but I am against any immigration in Switzerland because I don’t this this fragile little Alpine land can handle any more people no matter where they come from.

    My bottom line is, would I fight and die for the United States of America? Absolutey. Would I fight and die for Switzerland? Again, absolutely.

    Nuf said.

    All the best,
    Donnamarie Leemann

    Lavigny, Switzerland

  47. 47 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 16:18

    pl. na?tion?al?i?ties

    1)The status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization.

    2)A people having common origins or traditions and often constituting a nation.

    3)Existence as a politically autonomous entity; national independence.

    4)National character.


    -Anthony, LA, CA

  48. 48 Emile Barre
    August 26, 2008 at 16:22

    Global Regionality defines nationality. If you are for examples a Dane you are European, a Burmese you are Asian, a Syrian or Israeli you are Middle Eastern and so on. Nationality is rapidly becoming an anachronism and rightly so.

  49. 49 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 16:24

    Defining Americans are like asking to define beauty, or define perfection. It’s so different to so many people. Is American “supporting our troops” or “protesting the war” or both??? I don’t know, but everyone always thinks they’re more American than everyone else no matter what you think. Maybe being American is believing you’re right no matter what, without even needing proof?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  50. 50 gary
    August 26, 2008 at 16:26

    I do not. I reject the concept. I am a citizen of Earth. I advise all who hold their national membership superior to all other considerations, to imbibe a bit of global reality. It ‘s a well-aged brew; bit it isn’t very smooth. Our commerce, pollution, and environmental destruction is global, yet our world view is not as well-developed as that of the typical migratory water fowl. Nation-States evolve to build wealth, and wealth begets waste. However, there are limits to the number of profligate wastrels the Earth can support, so wealth is hoarded, and the have-nots get really irritated. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, thank your local Nation-State.

  51. 51 rash
    August 26, 2008 at 16:29

    @ anthony

    what makes you say that?what is the proof you have to prove that?

  52. 52 Keith
    August 26, 2008 at 16:29

    hmm…nationality….I believe it’s from a Spanish word meaning “old wooden ship”.

  53. 53 rash
    August 26, 2008 at 16:33

    @ gary

    well said gary, well said.

  54. 54 Virginia Davis
    August 26, 2008 at 16:39

    born & raised in the USA by parents born & raised in the USA – my immediate
    family – parents & sibling and myself – span three centuries…..

    Virginia in Oregon

  55. 55 Lubna
    August 26, 2008 at 16:47

    Hi gang ! :-)… To me as a proud Iraqi citizen nationality is a sense of deep, original and unshaken love, loyalty, and passion for your homeland no matter how harsh, intolerable, and miserable your day to-day life in that homeland is… Down here in Baghdad we’re going in and out of hell on daily bases, and its only my nationality that forces me to stay… I do have a dream of pursuing my postgraduate studies in either the US or the UK, and in case that dream ever comes true, then I’d surely get back home soon after getting my degree because my Iraq does need me one billion times more that the US or the UK needs me… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  56. 56 Joel Meyers
    August 26, 2008 at 16:55

    I definitely think its the set of values we follow for the good of fellow citizens in a country, if you are born in a state where the administration is cruel and undemocratics no way a citizen can support it. If its the other way people will support. Basically its the values we beleive in to make world much better.

    I hope growth of media and intermingling of race and eceonomic growth will fuel for a different kind of nationality the feeling that all are one in this world and it would be commonly governed by a body which beleives in the best of everyone.

    Joel Meyers

  57. 57 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 17:10

    Whether he is American enough or not, Obama picked the wrong person. The fact that Hillary isn’t V.P. (plus that narcissist Nadar is in it) has already made the numbers jump towards McCain. Hillary only has the woman, senior, and blue collar workers vote. Obama was a trend, and now the American people are starting to doubt the choice they made.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  58. 58 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 17:12

    @ Rash

    I need no proof, I’m American and always right!!! 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  59. 59 John in Germany
    August 26, 2008 at 17:26

    The European idea is causing a lot of problems with nationality. i am a Brit and proud of it, but as far as my rights are concerned i am a second class citizen. i cannot vote for the Parliament in my adopted land, nor at home. So if i want to vote here(Germany) i have to take up German nationality, i wont do that. If i want to vote in Britain i have to live there for 6 months, i cant do that.

    Poor old me, and iam still better of than those with no nationality, stateless. Sad old world. They cant even get the basics right in the European Parliament, let alone the complicated stuff, Georgian?.

    John in Germany

  60. 60 Bekele Woyecha, United Kingdom
    August 26, 2008 at 17:28

    When I think of nationality, I think about the sense of belongingness to a particular place being bound to its core values; to feel concerned about it and remain vigilant to safeguard its interests. At the same time working hard and helping it come out of its challenges and enjoying it successes. As an Ethiopian, born and raised in Addis, I am always concerned about Ethiopia and Ethiopians, their cultures, religions, languages, interests and core values that are peculiar to Ethiopia. As someone living in Britain, I have the same feelings and I feel concerned about the British values and interests. I feel part of any successes that Britain and Brits make; and when there are challenges, I strongly feel about them and ask myself as to what my share may be in helping overcome these challenges. I just feel that this state of being an essential part of a country or countries is something natural embodied in humankinds. Though the issue was raised this morning by Michelle Obama, the nationality feeling has been at its peak in the past few weeks almost across the globe due to the Beijing Olymipcs.

  61. 61 Livia
    August 26, 2008 at 17:30

    There is a difference between citizenship and nationality. A person could be an American citizen, but when asked about his nationality, he might say, German -American.

    In any case, a President must be a true national of the US, with loyalty and principles that leave no doubt. Obama’s place of birth is disputed: was it Hawaii or Canada or Indonesia? Apparently his Birth Certificate is suspicious. He has lived in several countries and thus one doubts his undivided loyalty to the US. By the way, since he was adopted by an Indonesian and most Indonesians are Muslim, one even doubts his true religious convictions. If only Hillary Clinton had been chosen!

  62. 62 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    August 26, 2008 at 17:35

    @ Marrakesh
    Nationality means belonging to a country and being proud of it despite its shortcomings. It means having a sense of identity through it and contrasting it with other nationalities for tolerance and not bigotry.


  63. 63 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 17:35


    he was born in Hawaii, don’t believe the republican propaganda machine.

  64. 64 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    August 26, 2008 at 17:41

    I think that here in America part of defining nationality is where we came from. I am an Irish American 3rd generation. I am an American first but I also have connection to my Irish heritage. . I think that most Americans feel connected to their heritage to help define who they are.

  65. 65 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 17:44

    Well, this is an interesting debate, since i am currently waiting to obtain my forth citzenship. for me personally nationality or citizenship depends on the place you live. although I have been only for 8 years in the usa i do feel american and support american sports teams. of course i look also at britain and swizterland and hope they do well. however my initial nationality was german, i do not care about that country too much, because i never lived there.

    in a way nationality to me is a standart by which one can meassure integration. if you cannot support the country you live in you may want to consider leaving that place, because your heart is not in it and you do not belong there and are most likely only there for economic rather than to support that country

  66. 66 Kydala Danappiah
    August 26, 2008 at 17:51

    Really Tough question.

    When independent Inda was divided into India and Pakistan, many who were Indians till then, became Pakistanis overnight. A new nation, a new nationality!
    At one level, the Obamas also fit into this logic.
    They are immigrants in one sense, at the same time, the socio-political history of USA makes them as AMERICAN as anybody.
    However, to become a citizen of a non-English speaking country is not simple. This can be debated at length.

  67. 67 Scott (M)
    August 26, 2008 at 17:51

    Anyone identifying strongly with a nationality is no friend of ours! Nations are artificial, there borders can quickly be modified, and there geography is nothing but a fabrication constructed by governments to keep ‘us’ in and ‘them’ out.

    To be interested in our ‘culture’ for a sense of place and community is a different matter. But even in areas of culture, it is often easy for many to romanticize their cultural heritage and have an aggrandized sense of cultural pride. My heroes, try hard not to define themselves by belonging to superficial collectives.

    The actual question of this topic means little! Nationality is matter-of-fact and not up for dispute—it is defined by function and practicalities. Nationalism is what this topic should really be about.

  68. August 26, 2008 at 17:53

    For an example as to a person’s British nationality, if one legally moved to Britain, and resided there for a period of time and applied for British Nationality and was granted it, the person would be British by naturalisation and have all rights as a Briton, but will not be able to attain the position of a Prime Minister of Britain. Similarily in the USA, whilst he or she becomes an Ameican Citizen, I am of the belief the position of becoming President is acceptable. Each country has laws as to the rights governing conditions for becoming a leader or head of state of a country.

  69. August 26, 2008 at 18:04

    Nationality is the where you place your allegiance, your loyalty and the place you would die to defend. Is that the attitude of Barack Obama? I hope we do not have to find out!

    John Somers
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA

  70. 70 Suresh in Chennai
    August 26, 2008 at 18:13

    Be careful about the difference between nation states and state nations. The former are held together by cultural and ethnic bonds. It is the state nations like America and India that are held together by ideological memes. That of living in a secular and democratic polity under the same laws for all irrespective of ethnic, cultural, regional or racial differences.

    As a dark-skinned south Indian Tamil, I share neither religion, race, colour, ethnicity or language with a Ladakhi who is Tibeto-Chinese by race, Buddhist speaking a language I cannot fathom. Yet the two of us call ourselves Indian because we both believe in the idea of a secular democratic polity that offers equality and opportunity.

  71. 71 Kenny In Florida
    August 26, 2008 at 18:15

    Lets stop and think about the people who are not necessarily proud of the values and traditions of the country they live in. I am an American but had the the amazing opportunity to live in the U.K. as a younger lad for some time. As I’ve grown older I find American culture and customs to be down right ridiculous and often ignorant. I long for the chance to return to the U.K. as an older, working adult. Most in the states would be very upset with my beliefs and consider me to be a traitor to America.

  72. 72 Keith
    August 26, 2008 at 18:16

    @ Scott-
    Absolutely right…nationality is not based on opinion lol. Nationalism- that’s the correct word. But hey let’s just keep talking about nationality for the heck of it!

  73. 73 Chrissy
    August 26, 2008 at 18:19

    I think that “nationality” is about little more than where you were born or where you choose to settle. I think there is much more importance placed on it than is necessary. I don’t think that a person needs to be nationalistic to deserve a chance to lead. I am often not proud to be an american because I don’t agree with the way that we globalize and try to influence and destroy other cultures in order to feel that ours is better or somehow fundamentally “right”. I don’t agree with consumerism and greed. But I was born here, I live here, that makes me a merican, but I don’t think I am a bad person for not agreeing with the direction this country has gone.

  74. 74 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 18:20

    I think different nations have serious differences that makes “nationality” harder to define. Example, the US is a very diverse nation, so there’s no american last name. However, if you went to Germany, you can tell someone’s nationality basically by their last name. If it’s German, they are German. However, if someone living in Germany had the last name of “Pierre” or “Bogolavsky” you know that they aren’t ethnically german. Same could be said for people in France, or in England, Spain, everywhere. I would imagine it’s easier to feel like an outsider when you aren’t of the majority group, despite being of the same race, etc, you can tell by someone’s last name that they are of Polish descent living in Germany, despite being a German citizen. Whereas in the US, everyone lives outside of the country they are descended from anyways.

  75. August 26, 2008 at 18:21

    The Republican Party has a lot of weight, the military, those already in political office and big business that hold government contracts. The Republican Party is a don’t ask and don’t question forum. A delegated rank and file bureaucracy exist that defines any republican office as a profession only qualified to make a decision and available choices for the every individual.

    This I do not agree with because a republic that can not be questioned is a dictatorship not open to individual views. When political offices can not be questioned it has become a bureaucracy and fails the defined meaning of democracy.

    If Obama did not possess the qualifications for the democrat presidential candidacy he would not have been allowed to be elected.

  76. 76 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 18:22

    @ Selena

    I’m Canadian and I have never felt indoctrinated into believing Canada is the best country in the world. In fact, I have always felt criticism of the Canadian goverment and culture is a part of Canadian identity. I’ve always loved how Canada talks about its achievements without constantly adding “We’re number 1”. As a Canadian I’ve also always felt like a citizen of the world and that’s where I draw a lot of my nationalism from: that having to share Canada with other cultures (first English and French and now so many others) has had a civilizing effect on the nation.

    True nationalism might lie in adopting a critical eye towards your nation and continually questioning its ideals and influence in the world.

  77. 77 Devra Lawrence-Jamaica
    August 26, 2008 at 18:23

    Nationality is a patriotic sentiment … I am SUPPOSED to be proud of where I was born and grew up. I am somewhat ‘brain-washed’ from birth about the history of my country, what my National Heroes went through, the meaning of the colours in my flag, coat of arms, national dish, national flower, national bird, national pledge & anthem. I am taught to STAND @ attention when singing the anthem and to do the same when reciting my pledge.

    But what is this really all about? As Gary said “I am a citizen of earth”. That seems to make a bit more sense! I am and will always be a proud Jamaican, and be loyal to my country. I have never thought of being someone of a different nationality … maybe another Caribbean Isalnd, but never really gave it much thought.

  78. 78 weddingsoverhere
    August 26, 2008 at 18:23

    Nationalism is tribalism at its insidious worst and should have no place in the 21st century.
    It incites hate and racism at its worst.
    We are people and humans first.

  79. 79 jesse
    August 26, 2008 at 18:23

    my 14 year old daughter said that she is american. when i asked why, she said that she was born here, and her mom and dad were born here. this is somewhat an old fashioned idea, defining yourself by where your parents were born, but it is still relevant to some. if each parent is from a different country, then the identity changes of course, and becomes even more complex if then the child is born in a third country altogether.

  80. 80 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 18:24

    Your guest mentioned that christianity was used to prolong slavery in the US. In fact, it was christianity, the most extreme abolitionists were very devout christians. If anything, it was the religious people in the USA that brought about the end of the slavery.

  81. August 26, 2008 at 18:24

    The Republican Party has a lot of weight, the military, those already in political office and big business that hold government contracts. The Republican Party is a don’t ask and don’t question forum. A delegated rank and file bureaucracy exist that defines any republican office as a profession only qualified to make a decision and available choices for every individual.

    This I do not agree with because a republic that can not be questioned is a dictatorship not open to individual views. When political offices can not be questioned it has become a bureaucracy that has failed democracy.

    If Obama did not possess the qualifications for the democrat presidential candidacy he would not have been allowed to be elected.

  82. 82 Tara
    August 26, 2008 at 18:26

    I think that nationality is where you believe you belong.

    My mother is a Chinese born American and my father is a caucasian Canadian. I was born in Canada. So where do I fit in? I feel that I am both Canadian and American. I would not say that I have any national identification with China because my family has lived in North America for so long.

    Yet, I have been told that my family is not Canadian because my mother is of Chinese ethnicity. If you ask my mother what nationality she is however, she will tell you that she is American. If you ask her what ethnicity she is she will say she is of Chinese decent. She does not feel nationalistic identification to China.

    I find that many people have difficulties seperating nationality with ethnicity.

  83. 83 Vijay
    August 26, 2008 at 18:26

    I think you have it the wrong way round regarding who can become head of government and head of state in the UK and USA.

  84. August 26, 2008 at 18:26

    Michelle Obama wasn’t really talking about nationality as you are speaking of it. America is the only country where one can be “unAmerican”. Can someone be “unBritish” or “unFrench”.

    In many other countries people know without any question that they are French or Spanish or Italian by simply being born in a certain place.

    Only in America can a person born and raised in America can be accused of being “unAmerican”.

    Her speech was to persuade viewers that she and her husband were “American” in the sense of not being “unAmerican.”

    When many months ago that she was “finally” proud of America she was criticized as being “unAmerican”.

    This is an issue created by the right wing in the US (or any right wing politics) as a way to smear their opponents.

    thank you.

    Washington State USA

  85. 85 Sara
    August 26, 2008 at 18:27

    I think that, to a certain extent, nationality is defined by a shared history which leads to a shared set of values. We are who we are as individuals partially based on our personal histories, and countries are somewhat the same way. The treatment of the US colonies by the British led to the values included in our Constitution; the practice of slavery in America led to certain amendments and shaped cultural movements that are a part of the American conscience. Even though individual Americans did not actually live these moments in history, the imprint they left on the culture survives and is common. In some ways it’s a shared commitment to these values and ideals that leads us to call ourselves one thing or another, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  86. 86 George
    August 26, 2008 at 18:27

    It’s silly to be proud of where you happen to have been born. You should use your own judgment and decide whether being a resident of your country of origin is something to be proud of.

    Just like if you were raised religious, you should question that religion and decide if it’s the right thing for you, not just stick with that faith because your parents raised you that way.

  87. 87 Jordan Jancz
    August 26, 2008 at 18:30

    It’s a simplistic way for people to separate themselves from the “other”.
    It’s also a way for political leaders to raise armies to fight that “other”.
    We are all citizens of the world.
    The closest I coming to having a nationality is Musician.

    Jordan Jancz
    Bridgeport, CT

  88. 88 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 18:34

    I don’t know about other countries, but there are people in the states that are proud of what coast they are from, what state, what part of the state, what county, what city, and what part of the city you are in. It’s all kind of funny.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  89. 89 Chrissy from Oregon, USA
    August 26, 2008 at 18:35

    It seems to me that the concept of “nationality” serves as an impression that we as humans are fundamentally different depending upon what country we live in or what country our ancestors came from. If we believe that the country in which we were born or choose to live is a defining factor in who we are, we lose sight of how many more similarities there are than differences among human beings. I did not choose to be born in America. I could have just as easily been born in Africa or Saudi Arabia or Germany or anywhere else in the world, and no matter where I was born, I will be influenced by that culture and my experiences will help to define who I am. The concept of “nationality” indicates a level of pride. If you are not proud of your country, it is supposed that there is some problem with you. I do not agree, and I think we ought to worry less about our candidates sense of “nationalism” and more about their willingness to lead our country. I look for someone to lead us in new directions and help to improve things. I feel like someone with a strong sense of nationalism might embrace our country for the way it has been in the past or is today, and I look for leaders who want to change and not maintain this country’s mistakes.

  90. 90 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 18:36


    The slave owners down south promoted slavery through christianity, the Southern Baptists.

  91. 91 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 18:38


    I agree. I love the quote, “American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God.”

  92. 92 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 18:40

    I dislike the notion that America is a Christian nation, and I believe that America has been steered in dangerous directions by generations trying to make it a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson, at least, never meant it to be God’s city on a hill, and that the identity of America as if sets law and custom should be guided by a broader ethic.

  93. 93 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 18:41

    To the contributor who said she would fight and die for both Switzerland and the USA. Say if the US and Switzerland went to war?

  94. August 26, 2008 at 18:42

    How do you define nationality?

    History – very simply put. I feel, as an Englishman, I am a part of the history and culture of my nation.

    As the old saying goes: “You can take the Englishman out of the country but you can never take England out of him”

  95. 95 kaushal
    August 26, 2008 at 18:42

    Nationalism has always referred to an ideology and a sentiment, a form of culture or even a social movement focusing on a nation.
    I believe that this is merely an instrument and a cause for the trouble all over the planet. The history is a witness
    Why should a NATIONAL from a not so affluent state be discriminated because of his nationality as opposed to somebody from an affluent state?
    NATIONALISM doesn’t embrace the Universal Human Rights Charter

  96. 96 Johanna
    August 26, 2008 at 18:42

    Citizen of the world by choice, European by birth, I hold a french & a british passport. Nationality means my right to vote on certain territories in the world, and the price of visas whilst visiting other nations!

  97. 97 Bobr in Oregon
    August 26, 2008 at 18:42

    Sorry, but I think the BBC is missing the real point behind Michelle Obama’s speech.

    Obama wants to be president, wants voters to vote for him.

    People tend to vote IDENTITY, rather than economic interests, etc.

    Michelle was trying to tell the U.S. voter, Barrack is just like you! And it just happens that the average U.S. voter is an “American” and identifies nationality by association.

    And Michelle also tries to get us to think she is just an ordinary average middle class American, not a privileged “first lady want to be” like Teresa Heinz Kerry or Cindy Beer McCain.

    It almost nauseates me when privileged people honestly think they are just average.

  98. 98 Kenny In Florida
    August 26, 2008 at 18:42

    Being American: Being a mutt of foreign decedents from sometime or another. I am so glad to hear many Americans acknowledge that their is no clear definition of what being American means.

  99. 99 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 18:43


    a lot of people need identies and where you come from is part of that identity. it’s kind of cute in a way. i first lived in michigan when i can to the usa and many americans look upon this as my american root. besides being swiss and british I am now a michigander as well. i don’t mind and in fact i am still supporting michigan, the wings and pistons, just because they were the teams i went to see there. plus the lobos just suck too much, nevermind i go watch them occasionally.

  100. 100 Maura
    August 26, 2008 at 18:43

    I’ve just never understood why when you asked some people in the US about their nationality many would never say “I am American”, they would say “i’m a 1/4 this and 1/4 that”. One guy said to me once, i’m a 1/2 italian and i asked him where from italy and if he spoke italian and he wasn’t really sure where from italy and did not speak italian. I moved to the US when i was 15 and i’m now 25 and I still can’t say i am american (I just say i hold an american passport). I might change this later but for now I keep saying i’m ecuadorian. If I have kids in the US though I would like for them to feel and say they are American because that’s the place where they were born (just say they have a different background).

  101. 101 Vijay
    August 26, 2008 at 18:43

    The state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is made up of four nations(Scotland,England,Wales and Northern Ireland).
    I am not a member of any nation however,I am a British Citizen who is loyal to Britain.

    My ethinicity would be punjabi and finnish(with a few others mixed in scottish,black and arab)

  102. 102 Charles
    August 26, 2008 at 18:44

    The problem facing the Obamas in America is that White America feels that they are the only true Americans. To the world America is a melting pot but to Whites in America everyone is from some other land except them. Never will you hear in the media or read in print that Whites are European-Americans.
    Will the shrinking majority of whites in America ever join the Asian- Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans in this country and accept being referred to as European-Americans and let go of the White-American superiority complex that has been passed on for generation after generation? ,when this happens America will have become as it should be. Every nationality in America are decendents of some continnet out side America and this is what being an American is about.

  103. 103 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 18:45


    switzerland and usa going to war. my friend you forget that swizterland represent the usa in countries which do not want any ties with the usa, like cuba and iran.

  104. 104 Devra Lawrence-Jamaica
    August 26, 2008 at 18:48

    “To the contributor who said she would fight and die for both Switzerland and the USA. Say if the US and Switzerland went to war?” -I think that’s funny! I kind of wondered the same thing too.

    I always see on the news where ‘brave American soldiers’ died in Iraq for their country. I often ask myself if I would ever do that for Jamaica. Is that bad?

  105. 105 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 18:48

    “Every nationality in America are decendents of some continnet out side America and this is what being an American is about.”

    i think the navajo and other native american tribes beg to differ on this quote……

  106. 106 eric reed
    August 26, 2008 at 18:49

    Maintaining a relationship between nation and ethnic boundaries will become increasingly less possible in the future.

    Conflicts attempting this are already appearing wrong.

  107. 107 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 18:49

    It’s interesting that this is being discussed while Russia has recognized the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. How is nationality defined by people in regions seeking separation from larger countries? I’m thinking here of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec against English Canada, or Northern Ireland trying to wrest independence from the UK. Whole nations have been created by divided feelings of nationalism. Who here feels divided along these lines?

  108. 108 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 18:49

    @ Kenny

    I know the definition of an American (like myself). Thinking I’m right, and the best, with no proof.

    Seriously, even though other people from other countries think they are right, at least they have a reason even though it may be very flawed. The average American (that I’ve noticed) just hears things and makes up their minds with no proof. Thats why a lot of Americans think Obama is muslim, that Americans are the smartest, and voted for Bush becuase he said that Jesus is his biggest influence in his life..

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  109. 109 Eva-Maria
    August 26, 2008 at 18:50

    I agree with the person that was just on the air who said that nationality is defined by where you grow up as the early years in your life have a huge impact on your values. I grew up in Germany and moved to the US at age 20. 20 years later I am still in the US but I fundamentally feel that I am still more German than American. This is despite the fact the US offered me far more opportunities, did a lot more for me, than did Germany. However, I do feel that I am fundamentally still more German than American because my core values are more similar to German believes than those of Americans.

  110. 110 roebert
    August 26, 2008 at 18:50

    I think that the more enlightened you are, the less you will be much aware of your nationality or your nation. Nationhood is quite a recent political artifice, and it gives rise to many dangerous allegiances, including the nonsense of patriotism.

    What matters is a shared culture that goes deep enough to enable us to recognise our cultural unity simply in the way we think and act. It’s so ancient and entrenched that we are completely at home in it.

    Other than that, human unity is something to be worked at by trying to come to grips with alien cultures and, in this regard, nationhood is a divisive rather than a unifying factor.

  111. 111 Margaret
    August 26, 2008 at 18:50

    There are two versions on American patriotism. There is the patriotism of an immigrant who has created a successful life for themsel here.

    There is also the jingoistic Christian patriotism that is sold to us by politicians.

    As I am neither Christian nor an immigrant, I do ot define myself by by nationality. I don’t find that this is a problem for me in m everyday life.

  112. 112 Vijay
    August 26, 2008 at 18:51

    Ms Siddiquis comments would suggest she is an international Islamicist who is residing in Britain (holding a British passport)with no loyalty to Britain.
    Is the somali from the former British Somaliland(PUNTLAND)or from Somalia.

  113. 113 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 18:51

    @ Jens

    I think steve was just putting a hypothetical out there (which for some reason people on the WHYS blog can’t understand). It’s just a way to dive deeper into the subject.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  114. August 26, 2008 at 18:51

    Nationality is Border, Culture, Language and traditions. A citizen of a nation live the patriotism of his country to the point of giving his or her life fighting for their freedom.

    I’m proud of my nation. The national Anthem and the nation flag represents the spirit of nationalism and love for country.

    I’m not a citizen of the world, I’m a citizen of a nation and a member of the human race in the world.

    Solomon Urriola
    Salt Lake City

  115. 115 Ken
    August 26, 2008 at 18:53

    A few years ago, I was engaged to an Indian woman, who was very proud of her heritage and nationality. I always felt that although she’d be a “hyphenated” American after we married, she never warmed to the idea – she hated the idea of “becoming American.” She’s now married to another Indian, and they seem to be planning on staying here in the US.

    I am proudest of my country when I see how accepting it can (sometimes) be of those from other shores. For me, being American is not about nationality, but patriotism – believing in the ideals of our system of governance.

    As an adopted child, I’ve always felt that racial/genetic nationality is a bit of a fetish.

  116. 116 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 18:53

    @ the black woman on right now

    You WEREN’T taken from Africa. You are AMERICAN. You’re GREAT GREAT grandparents were taken NOT you. I hate that stuff!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  117. 117 Angela in Washington
    August 26, 2008 at 18:54

    I completely disagree with the guest from Harlem. I am African American or black. I was not taken from Africa but my ancestors were taken from Africa. I am only contected to the US.

  118. 118 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 18:54

    Your caller said that African Americans don’t have the opportunity to get an education like Michelle Obama did. That’s completely untrue. African Americans benefit from affirmative action, they have special scholarships. The only thing many lack is the will to actually want to get an education. many don’t even finish high school, fewer go to University. They have the opportunity, many choose to not take the opportunity.

    Again, watch Hard Times at Douglass High of what an all African American high school in Baltimore is like.

  119. 119 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 18:55


    that’s funny. i started of german/danish became swiss and british and i have lived in the usa for 9 years. i feel more american than any of the other nationalities. i feel better and more accepted here than anywhere else and my loyalties are clearly with america, this even without being a citizen yet.

    to truely integrate you have to adjust your core-values

  120. 120 Colleen
    August 26, 2008 at 18:55

    i think nationality is self-defined — there is no set definition. it is a combination of where your ancestors are from, where you were born, where you grew up and what community/country you most closely identify with. I am primarly American, but all my great-grandparents came from ireland so i consider myself Irish also… if I moved somewhere else for a long period of time and adopted that culture, I’d probably start claiming that place as a part of my nationality too….

  121. 121 Tony Ramos
    August 26, 2008 at 18:55

    When asked “Where are you from?”, I use a little humour to both disarm and inform. Although I am Filipino-American (both parents emigrated to the US before I was born), I usually respond, “I am from Chicago. Can’t you tell just by looking at me?” We share a laugh. This gives me the opportunity to say that another way to ask is “What is your heritage?” Then I can proudly inform my new friend about the Philippines and my own family’s history. It’s usually a win-win situation.

  122. 122 Anthony
    August 26, 2008 at 18:56

    Kudos to Angela in Washington!!!

    Very nicely said!!! 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  123. 123 Jennifer
    August 26, 2008 at 18:56

    I am first generation born in Chicago to Bulgarian parents who migrated America before my birth. I grew up in Chicago but in a Bulgarian household – we spoke the language ate the food, and so on. I have always felt a sense of conflict when it comes to nationality as my Bulgarian relatives view me as an American, and my American friends view me as a foreigner (Bulgarian). Oddly when I am in America and I am asked of my nationality I say Bulgarian but when I am in Bulgaria and someone asks me I tell them I am American. Not sure why I am naturally inclined to respond this way. All this considered I do find it jocular, in America especially, when someone is asked of their nationality and they respond with half the countries in Western Europe tracing back hundreds of years of ancestry. I think it’s important to not confuse nationality with lineage in the US that is why I feel it is important for the American presidential candidates to proclaim their nationality because in a country as large and diverse as the United States the presidential point is how we are viewed as a whole. It’s also important for us to reshape the popular (and mostly republican) view of what being an American is…

  124. 124 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    August 26, 2008 at 18:56

    I think I can help everyone understand why Americans spit themselves up into groups like Irish American, African Amarecan and alike. It is because we all came from another place. Our history is from other places. The only true Americans can be the Indians who were here already.

  125. 125 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 18:56

    @ Jens
    “switzerland and usa going to war. my friend you forget that swizterland represent the usa in countries which do not want any ties with the usa, like cuba and iran.”

    But we have the evil BOOOSH as president, so anything’s possible. Which side would she take?

  126. 126 Michael
    August 26, 2008 at 18:57

    I was born, raised and educated in the American midwest. My father’s parents were immigrants from Croatia and Slovenia and we still have relatives there that we have visited. My mother’s grandparents were immigrants from Hungary and Flanders. Both my parents were raised bilingual – English/Croatian and English/Hungarian. I was raised to know and appreciate the cultures of my ancestors, but was not taught language other than English. I have always thought of myself as primarily American, however, I have never really felt like I fit into the usual notion of what Americans are generally perceived to be, and in the 2000 US census, defined myself as “Balkan-American” to make a political statement.

    When I first traveled to Europe in the late 1990’s, I was often mistaken for a local. They told me this was because I did not carry myself like the usual arrogant and “ugly” American tourists.

    I had a similar experience when I lived in Taiwan and visited China. People there started calling me “egg-man” because they thought I was white on the outside and yellow inside. They said this because I was not like the arrogant tourist and appreciated their culture.

    I have found that my cultural values are quite different than the seeming norm of individualism, materialistic consumerism and instant gratification that defines the stereotypical American in the USA.

    Although, I think there is nothing that really defines what it means to be American, I certainly take pride in many things about the USA, but also maintain what I think is a healthy criticism and maintain an understanding that the USA was formed from and continues to be formed by a multi-cultural society made up of immigrants from all over the world.

    Perhaps what defines American nationality is trying to maintain a civil society in response to the dynamics of cultural adaptation, change and development in the face of a constantly changing make-up of widely diverse cultural and ethinc traditions among its citizens within the dynamic of both “melting pot” and “salad-bowl”.

  127. 127 Jane
    August 26, 2008 at 18:57

    As an American who has lived abroad for almost fifteen years now, I can see that nationality is very much an attitude and demeanor. However, I can also see in myself, that nationality (being attitude and demeanor) is highly malleable.
    I have adopted some Czech attitudes (some to my chagrin) and others I have fought against tooth and nail.
    As for American nationality – I think it’s not so much the American dream (ah hahahaha) as the idea that if one tries to do something, one is rewarded at least in some way. That effort itself is important. Of course, I am NOT saying that this is exclusive to Americans. However, it really isn’t something that Czechs have. (yet?)
    The one thing that irritates me intensely is the American penchant for hyphenating our nationality. I’m not an Irish/Chinese/Polish-American. Those divisions weaken us as a nation. Everyone regardless of his/her origin is entitled to the same rights and possesses the same responsibilities as all Americans.

  128. 128 Kydala Danappiah
    August 26, 2008 at 18:58

    A nation becomes vulnerable and prone to disintegration as it tends to become more and more homogenous. Right now, the world’s most forward looking nations are those, which do not have a identity crisis within them.

  129. August 26, 2008 at 18:58

    I do not define myself by nationality, as I feel I am a citizen of the world.
    I was born in Greece and have lived half my life there and half in the US. I feel equally American and greek. I am greek in the US and American in Europe. Equally proud of both my countries’ achievements and history.
    But I am muslim as well, which means that I don’t agree with any of Greece’s policies, attitudes and religious affiliations. I feel way close to Turkey, culturally as I share the same beliefs and customs. It would be very difficult for me living in Europe, but it is very easy for me to live in the US, as here anybody can blend cultures, infuences and can adopt new customs.

  130. 130 Andrew
    August 26, 2008 at 18:58

    The saddest conflicts in life–patriotism confused and upstaged by nationalism.

  131. 131 Brian (Salem Oregon)
    August 26, 2008 at 18:59

    I posted on this blog a couple weeks back regarding immigration. I think that nationality ties into this.

    In my opinion when you leave a country you are choosing to leave your nationality and embrace your new home. It is incumbant on a person to integrate as fully into the culture of your home as possible.

    I fully disagree with the premise of “X” American … African, Mexican, Irish, Cuban what have you. You either are or you are not an American, Canadian, Spaniard etc… Claiming a hyphenated existance is crap. It is a divisive method to splinter a culture or nation and as the old saying goes “A house divided falls”.

  132. 132 mithu
    August 26, 2008 at 18:59

    nationality make sense actually where you have grown up. if u live a long time in a place definitely that places culture will defiantly effect u. that makes nationality.

  133. 133 ivan
    August 26, 2008 at 18:59

    i was born in Serbia and have lived in canada for about 30 years.
    i see nationality as ethnicity,. this makes me Serbian; however, i see my self politically liberal and my sensibilities are Canadian to a large degree.

    this is a touchy subject given what went in Yugoslavia in the last few years.

    it seems shallow to define peolle this way though.

    people are more than that.

    all teh best no matter what nationality you may be. 🙂

  134. 134 steve
    August 26, 2008 at 19:00

    I’m shocked about the comments read that somehow your nationality is not from where you are born, but rather what your job is and how much you succeed at it. First, there is no relation to nationality and what you do. Second, I truly feel sorry for people that live to work. Must be truly miserable lives. I also know to avoid people who the first thing they ask me is “what do you do?” because they are overly concerned with status, and they tend to be miserable people, and make others miserable.

  135. 135 1430a
    August 26, 2008 at 19:01

    hello again,
    i didnt get a chance today but a very interesting debate. i did think you guys forgot the basic points regarding Barack Obama not being white enough to be a president.But thanks again to everyone at WHYS(it quite late here!)

  136. 136 KMjumbe
    August 26, 2008 at 19:05

    nationality is a flawed concept of demarcation and exclusion. if i am the progeny of a military family born abroad but residence in a certain country not where i was born, do have have duel nationality?

    the whole concept of the current borders and demarcation lines have led to the systemic and constant clashes within Africa for years. What is the difference between some of the peoples of Congo Brazziville and the Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Angola? Not much. The Mande/Malinke can be in what is now Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Cote d Ivoire or Mauritania south.

    while i might have a us border passbook, i am first and foremost African [not African American because the term is flawed since there are African descendants on all three continential masses of the Americas; therefore, no one group for one portion has exclusive right to use of the term. Ditto American. a Mexican is just as much American as a Brasilian just as much as an Canadian if they choose to be].

    i argue that Mr. Obama needs not prove that he is American since by definition that mean proving what? that he is WASP enough? to be considered viable? and viable to whom? Should it not be the other way around? Should not this institution called American which markets itself around the world as a melting pot of equality and acceptance for all prove that it is viable enough to elect a half Kenyan, half white as president or a native america or a latin or an asian, or a south asian or even a full blooded african slave descendant?

    bem conche
    esse mindelo pequinino
    bem conche
    sabura di nos terra
    bem conche
    ess paraiso di cretcheu
    qui nos poeta canta co amor
    na ses verso imortal criol
    quem ca conche mindelo
    ca conche Cabo Verde…

    ESS pais [manueul de novas as sung by Cesaria Evora

  137. August 26, 2008 at 19:10

    Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Why should Michelle have to prove she’s “American” when Mr. Cheney never did? Both were born, raised and educated here. One was asked by his country 5 times to come to it’s aid and did not. It’s about what you do rather than where you come from.


  138. 138 Timur, Moscow
    August 26, 2008 at 19:11

    hahaha, this is really a trap that you guys set for yourself. I just looked it up in the dictionary (in Russian) and it suggested the definition: Nationality – affiliation with any of ethnical group :-). And below, it gave the meaning of Nationality in the western countries, were most of the languages, when reffering to the term “nationality” (in English), actually mean “citizenship” :-). Thus, when we, Russians, talk about nationality, or “natsionalnost” in russian, we clearly understand this term as an affiliation with any of ethnical group, and when we talk about citizenship we use “grazhdanstvo” or the term “poddanstvo”. No confusion as you can see. 🙂 And for the remaining part of this article, when the author started going on and on about different attributes of nationality, refferig to views, beliefs, habits, religion, places of birth, etc. – this is stupid. It reminds me of another conversation that some people like to have – how do you define motherland? Is it the country you were born? Is it the country you grew up in? Or is it the counry you currently live in? OR is it Israel, if you are the only Jew in that country, that you currently live in? 🙂 Everyone decides for themselves. 🙂

  139. August 26, 2008 at 19:11

    Nationality means both nothing and everything. Many of my fellow members of the American electorate care to much about trivial issues such as race, religion, and previous gaffes. The right wing has been all to successful in exploiting these things. As far as nationality goes, inciting racism and paranoia are as un-American as it gets.



  140. August 26, 2008 at 19:11

    I think it is important that we separate and clearly identify the ideas of nationality and nationalism. The first is a non threatening description of a person, the second a dangerous and historically destructive point of view. Nationalism is frequently identified with jingoism and extreme patriotism

    Sheila from Oregon, US

  141. August 26, 2008 at 19:12

    While traveling across North Africa during the early 80’s I would ask how a person would identify himself. (all males) The answer from Casa Blanca to Cairo was more or less consistent in this order. I am an Arab, a Muslim, a man, an Egyptian, a shoemaker. This question to an American would probably be answered in reverse order. When I travel and am asked my answer is always the same. I am a New Yorker.

    Ken Wade, Artist

  142. August 26, 2008 at 19:13

    I was born in Sri Lanka, lived there till my early twenties of age and then I moved to Britain and have been there for 40 years. I have British citizenship and feel fiercely British and give my country all my support. When I am in Europe e.g. France when I say I am British they ask me where are you from originally obviously because I look different to a typical British person. Then I say I was born in Sri Lanka and feel proud of my Sri Lankan origin. So I have dual nationality and feel proud of both. But when you work in one or the other country you have to support the culture religion and customs of the majority of that country. If you are going to be the president of one of the countries, you have to be able to die for that country and feel fiercely proud of all that county stands for. And leave all other loyalties behind.
    I cannot give one definition to encompass everything.

    Zita from UK and Sri Lanka

  143. August 26, 2008 at 19:13

    Being a great citizen of the world, a common goodness, of living the golden rule will qualify you as being a great representative of what ever chunk of ground where your spot on the planet sets.

    I’ve been a traveler of the world. Visited many, many different land. All have good people. Laughter is the universal language, love the universal message of understanding.

    Michelle Obama did a wonderful job communicating that she is from a wonderful family. The over-riding feeling I got from her was….Barak must really be a great person in order to be with her.

    She is the most impressive American woman I’ve seen in Puplic Life. No one approaches her outward projection. She is incredibly smart, comfortable with herself and her world. She is a great representative of what the American Woman is.

    Her heart and soul was so evident, so genuine. Her children, her Mom, her Brother, her Husband reveal one overwhelming truth……she was reaised with love, and is raising her two daughters with love and they project the most wonderful of joy and fortune of life for all the world to see.

    She would be a great citizen of any land. In our fortunate of fortunate random events she ends up being an American. Someone who make me proud to be an American. She is a bright and shining example of one of our people.


    troop on the Oregon Coast.

  144. 144 Kenny In Florida
    August 26, 2008 at 19:13

    Readers from across the globe, please be advised that the caller on today’s show who claimed ” to be taken from Africa” is only an example of the population of Americans who continue to blame their ignorance and lack of motivation on society instead of themselves. How are you born in the states, yet at the same time be taken from Africa? Have you even completed high school? Did you go to university on any of the number of grants and scholarships aimed entirely in aiding African-Americans in higher education?

  145. August 26, 2008 at 19:13

    I’m a Chinese , I can’t separate from my country.
    It’s a very strong emotion, If China fall I will fall with it. Not only but quite a lot of friends have the same faith as me.


  146. 146 Christopher
    August 26, 2008 at 19:13

    What a broad, broad range of comments. Since this whole issue was tripped by the DNC and Michelle Obama’s speech, I suppose what’s being blurred is the distinction between nationalism and nationality.

    Nationalism is having a sense or consciousness that your nation is above all others, that your nation is worthy of priimacy, that your nation and its culture must be promoted above all others, your nation’s interests advanced as opposed to all others. Typically, the kind of stuff one sees daily in playgrounds, on the soccer pitch, in a stadium – say, at the Olympics, for instance. Nationalism is what the USA is daily accused of espousing.

    Nationality is quite different – typically, a legal relationship to a particular nation, allegiance to a nation, membership in a nation, it can also equate to sharing a common origin, tradition and, potentially, language or other shared attributes. Thus, we can be the Green Bay Packer Nation if we are all Green Bay Packers fans, or we can be the Rythm Nation if we all claim to share a common tradition with Janet Jackson.

    In a sense, while we can subscribe to being part of a nation – gaining our nationality through that subscription — we espouse nationalism.

    To me, nationality is different for each of the intersecting circles of daily living. So, while I may be equal parts of French, Irish, Swiss and German, I consider myself 100% American – and that’s the USA kind.

  147. August 26, 2008 at 19:13

    I find myself quite uncomfortable with the focus on ‘Nationalism.’ I was born in the US and have always lived here; I happen to be a Christian. However, I would define myself as a citizen of the world.
    We are ALL citizen’s of the world, and until we free ourselves of the need to categorize (whether by nationality or by religious understanding), our hopes for tomorrow will continue to be distant.

    Jo Johnson in the US

  148. 148 Michael
    August 26, 2008 at 19:14

    Also important to see the difference between “nationality” and “nationalism”

    We may define nationality in many different ways, many of which are all interesting and acceptable definitions. It is also good to have some healthy pride in one’s nationality, however it is defined. But, I think we must be careful to avoid Nationalism, which generally results in beating each other up (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) while trying to prove whose nationality is the best.

  149. August 26, 2008 at 19:14

    nationalism has always referred to an ideology and a sentiment, a form of culture or even a social movement focusing on a nation. not necessarily a nation state. I believe that this is merely an instrument and a cause for the trouble all over the planet. The history is a witness. Why should a NATIONAL from a not so affluent state be discriminated because of his nationality as opposed to somebody from an affluent state. Lets say travel, or other services.


    By embracing Nationalism we are compromising the Universal Human Rights.

    Kaushal, Surrey

  150. August 26, 2008 at 19:15

    Nationality is Border, Culture, Language and traditions. A citizen of a nation live the patriotism of his country to the point of giving his or her life fighting for their freedom. A citizen of a nation doesn’t need labels, i.e Spanish-American. We are citizens without labels. I’m proud of my nation. The national Anthem and the nation flag represents the spirit of nationalism and love for country. I’m not a citizen of the world, I’m a citizen of a nation and a member of the human race in the world.

    Solomon Urriola
    Salt Lake City, Utah

  151. August 26, 2008 at 19:15


    I was born in Shanghai and raised in New York & Hawaii. However, I lived the majority of my life in Hawaii. Being so far away from the mainland US, I didn’t really consider myself an American, rather I clung to my Chinese side because I never understood why my parents moved to America and didn’t feel that life was better in America, nor was I engulfed or melded into the American television, book, or music culture.

    It was only when I studied abroad in Beijing 2 years ago that I was regarded as an outsider in what I considered my home country. It was then that I realized that nationality is an emotional entity that reflects whichever area’s culture and society educates and absorbs that allows one to feel nationalistic towards his or her country. In that being said, I felt more American in China, whereas I feel more Chinese in America still, maybe it’s the alienation from both cultures that leaves me indecisive.

    I also feel that nationality can also be used advantageously considering which country I’m in, ie: in China, it’s good to be foreign, as you’re regarded with higher status (not all the time). In America it feels honorable to be faithful to my heritage in a country that’s so diverse.

    But truly, what is American?


  152. August 26, 2008 at 19:16

    I was born in Bahrain to a British father and an Australian mother. I got British nationality at birth and Australian nationality some years later, when Australia amended its laws to recognize nationality through the female parent.

    Therefore, most of my life I have had two western passports; furthermore, I have spent all of my life (except for the first year in Bahrain) in western countries, and yet I have never had the right to vote! To be specific, when I turned 30, and was living in the Netherlands (after 2 years in the UK, 3 years in Spain, 10 year in France, 1 year in Austria, and 10 years in the US) I was able to vote for the first time ever.. for the European parliament and my Dutch municipality. These are the elections that most people don’t bother turning up for. The “right to vote” is mostly considered as a “national” right to vote. I have never had that right. The EU and the West generally are encouraging people to be flexible, to move around, and adapt themselves to the economy, and yet the people who do that will increasingly find themselves in my position): taxed, but without national representation.

    You will understand, I’m sure, why I laugh my head off, every time I hear your reports on countries that don’t give women, or anyone, the right to vote!

    Philippa, The Netherlands

  153. August 26, 2008 at 19:17

    I am a strong Hillary Clinton supporter, and was very disappointed when she did not win the nomination. I have not been a fan of Michelle Obama. However, I watched her speech last night with excitement and pride, and I thought she came across with the perfect mix of “stand by your man” old-fashioned femininity (which, unfortunately, many in the U.S. need to see) but also independence, intelligence and commitment to our Country.

    I was going to vote for WHOEVER won the democratic nomination, and I have always liked Barrack (but just not as much as Hillary) but after seeing Michelle Obama speak last night, I felt a sigh of relief that our country will be in good hands with this presidential team in the white house — Barrack and Michelle for president!

    Beavercreek, Oregon

  154. August 26, 2008 at 19:17

    I thought about nationalities a lot growing up. I am only 23 but already encountered these complicated issues from an early age. I am Latvian by birth, have a US passport, but grew up in Sweden. Growing up I could never really decide which nationality I was, at one point settling on plain “international”, but have come to the decision, that people can claim to belong to any nationality given they have a reasonable argument backing it up. By this I mean they can have grown up in that country, be a certain nationality by blood, have a certain citizenship or have lived in a country for a considerable period of time or whatever else feels reasonable to the person in question. I now call my self only as Latvian as I now have lived here for a few years and feel most comfortable here with friends and family. I am grateful I grew up in Sweden and received my education there, but I never felt fully comfortable there and have never called myself Swedish or had Swedish citiz! enship.

    Jule Rozite

  155. August 26, 2008 at 19:18

    I am a Sierra Leonean now living and working in the United States. However, I tend to feel strongly as an American when it come to foreign policy. There is not an instance when I have felt any American foreign policy is wrong. I usually get into strong agument with my fellow Sierra Leonean when they tend to think some of American foreign policy is wrong. It all about believing in an ideology. Can I say some people can even be a patriot of another country even if they never get to go their?


  156. 156 selena
    August 26, 2008 at 19:18


    Like you, I am Canadian!

    Where/when I grew up, we were fully indoctrinated into being nationalistic Canadians.

    Churches prayed for Canada at every event; Armistice Day praised Canada; Cadets were a part of the school program; On Canada Day little kids stood to attention and proudly waved the Canadian flag… and so on and so on. We never doubted that Canada was the best country in the world.

    Don’t tell me you never experienced any of this! Where did you grow up? 🙂

  157. August 26, 2008 at 19:18

    I am a citizen of the Universe.

    Michael Zonta
    San Francisco

  158. August 26, 2008 at 19:20

    Do you think there might be time to discuss how WHEN you were born affects your sense of nationality?

    I am 61 and my formative years included growing up in the states post WWII…..i am certain this has something to do with my generation’s sense of nationality……what we are taught as children is often reflective of the time that we were children, yes?

    be well – a beautiful day in the willamette river valley! thanks to you all –

    Oregon, US

  159. August 26, 2008 at 19:21

    Michelle thinks she is the only wife and mother in the US. No, there are millions of mothers and wives in my country. What is the big deal? My mother would never say, “For the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country.”


  160. August 26, 2008 at 19:21

    I am an Australian and I have been living in the US for almost 5 years. Being Australian means being genuinely friendly, with a laid back outlook on life, a huge sense of humor, lots of sarcasm and an ability to compassionately communicate with fellow human beings. Difficult to find that here.


  161. 161 GB
    August 26, 2008 at 19:21

    @Kenny in Florida,
    Thank you . I was hoping I wasn’t the only person listening annoyed by that tired old rant.

  162. 162 Jane
    August 26, 2008 at 19:23

    As to the lady on air who said her nationality was African. I guess we could call it a continentality, if we were to belabor the point.

  163. August 26, 2008 at 19:23

    Yes Ros, a sense of nation helps gets some things done – look at Hitler…

    Martin, Amsterdam

  164. August 26, 2008 at 19:25

    I’m so sick and tired of some off the people of the black race that are always complaining about everything. What do you people really want? and Why are you so angry like your friend Michelle Obama, that woman is so upset at the whole world. I think she hate the reason of her own existence. My personal advice is to get rid of your ridiculous label, you are not an African_American, What the hell is that? That doesn’t exist and it is impossible. if you are born and grow up in a specific nation that’s who you are.

    You are either made in America or China, or wherever, but that’s applied only to merchandise.

  165. 165 Christopher
    August 26, 2008 at 19:27

    As for the brewing Barack Obama “just where was he born” controversy, it is not one of nationality or nationalism….rather, it’s a matter of federal constitutional gravamen.

    It’s my understanding that a former Democratic official and former district attorney in Pennsylvania, USA, filed a declaratory judgment action in federal district court in Philadelphia on August 21, 2008, seeking to have Barack Obama removed from nomination at the DNC, claiming that his Hawaiian birth certificate is a forgery based on his younger half-sister’s, and that he was actually born in Kenya, his father’s homeland, while his mother was there with his father, and while she was only age 18.

    I will not hazard a guess to the truth or falsity of any of this – but in hearing a bit of commentary on the CBC last evening, by a Canadian left-wing politico, I was startled to hear him say that “everyone knows that Obama was born in Kansas, and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.” Born in Kansas?

    The politico went on to note that Obama’s is really a story of Everyman – but, to my knowledge, not Everyman (at least the bread-and-butter USA variety) was born to an unmarried free-spirit caucasian teenager and a Kenyan gadabout, was raised by a grandmother halfway around the world, has more than a half-dozen half-siblings on both sides and around the world, and ends up on the eve of potential election to the Presidency of the United States of America. An Everyman he most decidedly is not – extraordinary, gifted, blessed, maybe – but not an Everyman.

  166. August 26, 2008 at 19:31

    Americans should stop asking about Obama’s nationality. He was made a senator – why now?
    Geofrey in Mbale Uganda.

  167. August 26, 2008 at 19:32

    In Africa we have different levels of belonging – country, tribe clan, down to family. Actually nationality is a foreign word.
    Gilbert Musinguzi. Kabale Uganda.

  168. 168 selena
    August 26, 2008 at 19:34


    Michelle thinks she is the only wife and mother in the US. No, there are millions of mothers and wives in my country. What is the big deal? My mother would never say, “For the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country.”

    Oh yes she would, Mathew, if she felt Michele’s self sense of entitlement.

    Just think what had to happen before Michele felt proud of America. Isn’t that selfishness in the extreme?
    I dunno… it is all beyond my poor imagination!

  169. August 26, 2008 at 19:36

    Nationalism is a feeling that comes from deep within.It cannot be given any definition.I am an indian origin kenyan and yes i certainly got lumps in my throat watching our athletes doing so well.
    Dr.Ali mombasa kenya

  170. August 26, 2008 at 19:36

    Am muslim first, Muganda next, Ugandan and African finally.
    Moses, Lugazi, Uganda.

  171. August 26, 2008 at 19:37

    Born British but lived 46 yrs in Africa. I define myself as Swazi. Not blindly but committed. Rooting 4 Swaziland 1st southern african 2nd Brits 3rd.
    Pamela in Swaziland.

  172. August 26, 2008 at 19:38

    It means a home where one’s heart is at peace & love.
    emma, kampala

  173. August 26, 2008 at 19:38

    I think religious values can also act as a facet of nationality. I am an American but I am also a Christian, and being a Christian carries loyalties and responsibilities that trancend common nationality.
    Brian in Namibia

  174. August 26, 2008 at 19:39

    What makes me Ghanaian? Where I was born, my culture, the people around me, & our skin colour. NATIONALITY : A country a person feels he hails from which he is proud of.

  175. August 26, 2008 at 19:40

    I see my self more an african than a Sierra Leonean, that’s the most important thing.

  176. 176 Mathew
    August 26, 2008 at 19:40

    Nationality and patriotism go hand in hand. If you love your nationality you will be a loyal patriot of your country.

  177. August 26, 2008 at 19:40

    We identify ourselfs with achievements from our origins.Am Proud Kalenjin tribe than kenyan. Most GOLDS were by my tribe.

  178. August 26, 2008 at 19:42

    Nationality is the holistic appreciation of the environmental influeces of the country you prefer and love to live in momoh john kamara SIERRA LEONE

  179. August 26, 2008 at 19:43

    Nationality – the country or region you identify with, love and defend, that you can criticise but don’t like others doing so.
    Pamela – Swaziland

  180. August 26, 2008 at 19:44

    Born British but lived 46 yrs in Africa. I define myself as Swazi. Not blindly but committed. Rooting 4 Swaziland 1st southern african 2nd Brits 3rd. Pamela in Swaziland.

  181. August 26, 2008 at 19:45


  182. August 26, 2008 at 19:46

    Nationality is identity of the person in all the meaning of the word. In Somalia this was written in the charter of the TFG. So any person without the nationalty of Somalia can’t hold a position in the Goverment. Mohamed Amiin Hassan in B/weine Somalia.

  183. August 26, 2008 at 19:48

    I didn’t realize how varied in understanding people would be on this issue. Nationality, and the reason the audience is having a hard time defining it, is a cascading attribute. First we all identify ourselves as earthlings. (Well most of us. I once knew this girl….)

    Then we identify ourselves as humans. Remember how “profound” the concept of “Planet of the Apes” was at the time. Could you imagine if today say, dolphins were equally smart evolved and adapted as humans are, what kind of chaos would ensue.

    Then we identify ourselves as a specific race. This mostly has regional connotations. White Caucasian, Hispanic, black, oriental are examples. Members of these races can now be found all over the world.

    Next along the ladder is ones country of nationality. As with all of the previous, there is an allegiance to like people. A relation to people who have shared many of the same experiences.

    From there you have a waterfall of allegiances. State, city, neighborhood, family, gang, religions, and self.

    Ones “nationality” is defined by what group they consider themselves to be part of at each level of the ladder.

  184. August 26, 2008 at 19:48

    I am confused when it come to Nationality. Because people who are supposed to teach young people in Liberia are all serving in a dual nationality position.
    Preston P. Jackson, a Liberian.

  185. August 26, 2008 at 19:49

    When I am in Africa, I am a Ghanaian. When I am outside Africa I am an African.
    J K Buckson

  186. August 26, 2008 at 19:50

    The bible story of Adam & Eve,father & mother of the whole human race, told centuries ago the same truth that science has shown today: that all the peoples of the earth are a single family and have a common origin.
    Ikechiukwu U.Obidiegwu.

  187. August 26, 2008 at 19:50


  188. August 26, 2008 at 19:51

    Having a sane level of nationalism is fine. But the ultimate natural state of being is belonging to the Human race, and the sooner the world realizes that the sooner will we achieve lasting peace and tranquility across the globe.
    Houman from Zambia

  189. August 26, 2008 at 19:52

    As an American in self imposed exile, and a frequent traveller, the strongest nationalism I have seen and experienced, is by Russians, Americans and Serbs. Strange how they are all three guilty of waging inhumane war in the last decades. It is aggressive facism in disguise.

    Stefan in Prague

  190. August 26, 2008 at 19:53

    What makes us Ugandan is our boundary and the common values we share. Am proud of my country both in good and bad times. In fact I am hurt by all evils that happen in my nation.
    Okalang sam, Katakwi.

  191. August 26, 2008 at 19:53

    A deep sense of belonging which almost defies definition is what defines nationality for me.
    Tom Yormah, Freetown

  192. August 26, 2008 at 19:55

    I am kenyan and proud to be one no matter what. I pray for kenya every day. I was ecstatic when we won all those medals. I am kenyan first, then african.

  193. August 26, 2008 at 19:55

    I went to ukraine, married a ukrainian , got a 1st class degree in computer engineering & returned home to work. Friends told me to say & work in europe. I refused. I call that nationality.
    Walter in Uganda.

  194. August 26, 2008 at 19:57

    Nationalism is more of a political expression that connotes a sentimental kind of attachment to not only a defined territory, but a cause of a national character.
    M Daboh- Accra

  195. August 26, 2008 at 19:58

    Your true nationality is the country you are identified with when no one wants anything to do with you. Blonker. Ghana

  196. August 26, 2008 at 19:58

    Nationality is an identity buried in your conscience and it follows you wherever you go.
    Ayo, Nigeria.

  197. 197 ivan
    August 26, 2008 at 20:03


    I grew up in Canada (I landed in 1977 when I was 9) but not in the one you did.

    Churches teach that ‘we’ are Serbs, Greeks, Croats, Russians, Italians, etc and that ‘they’ are ‘Canadians’, and ‘French’. It depends which church you attend; and we certainly don’t all attend Protestant ones like most ‘Canadians’.

    ‘We’ as immigrant kids spoke ‘our’ language at home and were always taught the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

    Strange perhaps, but true for most kids I grew up with: Irish, Italian, German, Croats, Chinese, Vietnamese, Persian, Serbian, Scottish, American, Francophone, Punjabi, Six Nations, etc.

    It depends on parents and the strength of the mother/parent culture I suppose. My experience is that the closer the ethnic origin is to English/French the less this is a question.

    For my Czech girlfriend the experience was opposite: She was pushed to integrate more. So who knows. I could be wrong.

    I did not attend Cadets, although I did go to the cemetery in Dieppe last fall, and I did have a strong expereince looking a the Canadian men who died for a free France.

    I did not pay much attention to the other nationalizing things you mention since I had a handy replacement thrust on me very early on. The choice was there; however.

    I hope you understand that this, and not nationalization is the good thing about Canada, the UK, America. They do not require you to give anything up, explicitly at least. We are not fettered that way and are freer to think and speak openly because of this. This is the biggest thing Western Philosophy has come up with I think.

    You can simply grow in any direction you pick as long as you can afford it.

    Given that, we are both Canadian (as well as Serbian in my case) but our Canadian experience is not the same.

    The Great White North has room for all of us.

    All the best. 🙂


  198. 198 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 20:09


    Absolutely I experienced all of that, but there’s a distinction between recognizing your country and your devotion to it, and being indoctrinated into saying that it’s the best. We sang the national anthem every morning in school, but I never felt it was because we were above others. Afterwards, we were free and directed to look critically at the state of Canada.

    Have you never felt this way? That there is a national tendency to shy away from patriotism? In fact there’s been a long standing debate over Canadians not showing enough pride. Every 4th of July, Americans always know why they are celebrating their country. But on Canada Day, the question of “Who are we as Canadians” routinely comes up.

    I disagree that praying for the caretaking of our country, or recognizing the sacrifice of Canadians on behalf of Canada or other countries is indoctrination. To be indoctrinated implies a strong and directed path towards an unthinking, unwavering rhetoric. Indoctrination is, I think, an anathema to the free press. I doubt very much that any Canadian has ever experienced true indoctrination, which is a word I find tossed around a lot just like “tyranny” and “fascism”. I have pride in my country, and I’ve been that little kid with a flag in my hand – as I’m sure you have too – but none of that says to me that I was being steered away from debate about Canada’s state of affairs. The very discussion over Quebec separatism speaks to this. How can we claim supremacy when we have these divisions within our own borders?

    Canada’s acheivements do not make feel better than other nations, in fact it makes me feel that Canada has a greater moral obligation on it to spread its wealth and charity. Nor do Canada’s failings make me feel less Canadian or lesser than other countries. They enliven debate and that is really important to me as a Canadian.

    (I grew up in S. Ontario, singing the national anthem in both English and French. I find it hard to feel indoctrinated into two separate cultures. Visiting Montreal the first time was like going to another country.)

  199. 199 Michael Redbourn
    August 26, 2008 at 20:14

    Anthony @

    “I don’t know about other countries, but there are people in the states that are proud of what coast they are from, what state, what part of the state, what county, what city, and what part of the city you are in. It’s all kind of funny”.

    It’s not only “funny’ but it’s also dumb.

    How can a person be proud of where he was born?



  200. 200 roebert
    August 26, 2008 at 20:18

    If Henry Kissinger could be secretary of state and Arnold Schwarzenegger governor of CA, what does it matter where the president is born – as long as he/she does a better job than the all-American gringo currently in charge.

  201. 201 selena
    August 26, 2008 at 20:22

    @ Dan, Ivan

    🙂 Well there are three of us and we don’t seem to be unduly nationalistic. Therefore, I guess the freedom to explore counteracted the National Anthem which was a steady part of our diet.

    All the same, there are people I know who are not so worldly!

  202. 202 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 20:47


    I love what you wrote. There were four Polish guys who had the worst time our first year of high school together. They kept to themselves, couldn’t speak English and were the angriest people I have ever met. I remember I once put my lunch down where they usually sat. They were livid when they saw it. They had carved out a place where they knew they could gather and, in their eyes, I broke the sanctity of being able to sit together in the same place every day for lunch. I felt for them then, and in looking back I feel even worse in thinking how alone they must have felt. There was no place provided in the school for them to be Polish. That’s not the face I want reflected in the world: the angry foreigner finding himself lost in Canada.

    Just like you said, the Great White North has room for us all. That’s Canada for me. That space should be made in our cultural hemisphere for people to feel at home with the traditions they carry with them, but also to feel like they can share in the promises of confederation.

  203. 203 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 20:54


    Where did you grow up? Just so you know, I think you have a good point. Nationalism often inflates common human arrogance, and that’s a really strong motivator.

  204. 204 Jens
    August 26, 2008 at 20:57


    even booooosh would not attack switzerland. we have no oil, unless he wants to dominate the chocolate and wrist watch market……ok we have great pharmaceutical companies, banks etc.

  205. 205 selena
    August 26, 2008 at 21:02


    I grew up on the East Coast and, to begin with, we have to fight being thought inferior by Central Canadians.

    So we are not that far removed from first generation immigrants (not sure if that is a good way to phrase it?).

  206. August 26, 2008 at 21:08

    Nationality is Border, Culture, Language and traditions. A citizen of a nation live the patriotism of his country to the point of giving his or her life fighting for their freedom. A citizen of a nation doesn’t need labels, i.e Spanish-American. We are citizens without labels.

    I’m proud of my nation. The national Anthem and the nation flag represents the spirit of nationalism and love for country.

    I’m not a citizen of the world, I’m a citizen of a nation and a member of the human race in the world.

  207. August 26, 2008 at 21:13

    I do not think a person should use the name “World Have
    Your Say” as an ID for this forum. Be original man!!! Don’t be lazy and come up with your own name.

    King Solomon

  208. 208 Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 21:20


    I completely agree with you, there is a prejudice against the East Coast in Canada while enjoying the tourism and fishing revenue we get from there. I’ve heard the same complaint all my life: that Ontario dominates the country. And it’s probably true! Everything seems to be routed through Ontario.

    I see where you’re coming from by saying you feel akin to first generation immigrants. It’s hard to feel like you belong when you’re forced to the fringes.

    This is a thread I’ve been missing on this discussion, about feeling a divided loyalty. Which is not to say the East Coast wants to separate, but there are divided loyalties in many countries (like Georgia, for instance).

    But, Selena, anyone who clings to those central Canada prejudices past the age of 15 is an idiot.

  209. August 26, 2008 at 21:21

    Nationalism is the determinant of identity, rights, freedom, and prerogatives for a government and people that are indigenous within a geographical space or definition, and the force that drives and justifies the exercise of these as absolute values by governments and the people who are indigenous to the defined geographical space.

    Prince Awele Odor

    Lagos, Nigeria

  210. 210 ivan
    August 26, 2008 at 21:36


    Everyone who doubts this should walk on Danforth, Roncesvalles, or Kensington Market in Toronto, and look at the sprawl in Brampton to see the textbook version of Canada. Its there.

    I can’t remember hearing only English in the TTC (Toronto Metro) and that is the way it should be if you ask me. It makes me feel like I have a voice here since I am not from Canada. I am almost certain I would feel differently if I was talking about Serbia though. That is hypocritical but somehow is the way it is. They are different places to be certain. Strange.

    I know of a few ‘Canadians’ who have had the opposite view to the one you are alluding to when they first migrated to teach English in Japan and Korea. Later they told me they get why people need space to ‘be Polish’ in Canada as you put it, but only after they were in the great obvious minority elsewhere. Its very difficult to point out this barrier let alone to overcome it..

    The immigrant experience is common in many ways but it should not in it self be limiting either. We are more than that either way you look at it.


  211. 211 Christopher
    August 26, 2008 at 21:51

    Just to say it, as there were several questions – the USA’s Constitution defines who may be elected to hold the office of President of the United States under Article II, Section 1: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” Thus, for example, California’s Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, cannot run for President, as he was born in Austria (even though he is now a US citizen, he is not a natural born citizen), and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a native of Germany, likewise is barred.

  212. 212 jamily5
    August 26, 2008 at 21:57

    Brian (Salem Oregon)
    August 26, 2008 at 6:59 pm
    I disagreed with you, than and still do.
    But, I am sure that I don’t need to reitterate.

  213. 213 Syed Hasan Turab
    August 27, 2008 at 02:09

    Defination of Nationality sound like a bubble in USA. Infact presantly US society in transforming though each & every subdivision of ethnic group is listening without any intrest & intention to gave up majority right.
    Any way Oboma is standing on a weak foundation on the top of that he went toofar to support Isriel against Muslim world without knowing histry of loyality & devotional love with duel policy.
    No douibt he got good size of Jewish Controlled media support, by the way he will damage the public trust on media too.

  214. 214 Tom
    August 27, 2008 at 02:32

    Born to a family that has been constantly migrating from one land to another, nationality doesn’t mean much to us apart from the passport we currently hold for residing in a place of safe refuge. Today, members of my family are scattered all over the world. Like a globalised corporation despite living under varying political jurisdiction we are bonded together because of our common heritage.

    I don’t sign up to the army to protect my adopted country, but I do support it by having respect for the law, integrate into the community, and pay my taxes to support the infrastructure that have accommodated so many of us and safeguarded our way of life. I still do have special regards to my childhood home, my ancestral home, and places where my ancestors have sought refuge in the past.

    Nationality to me, therefore, is more of an inorganic construct serving to both divide and unite.

  215. 215 Vijay
    August 27, 2008 at 03:16

    those are SMS messages and EMAILS sent to WHYS.

  216. 216 Demet
    August 27, 2008 at 08:29

    Mankind need some notions to explain where they belong to. Nationality is one of those notions. It is important that whether your nationality conception covers a family as big as world or a family as small as your own. So my family conception is sum of the differences not based on a unique difference.

    Moreover, if you explain nationality on the base of differences or similarities, then you musn’t miss that point, cultures are getting much more similar under the globalisation. In this case, please imagine how the nationality concept changes in time.

  217. 217 Florian
    August 27, 2008 at 08:44

    That there is a mix-up of nationality and identity. People sometimes use the terms meaning the same thing. But nationality is only one element in peoples identities, next to a regional affiliation, religion, class, profession, the football team, and a lot of other elements.

    The problem with nationality is that it is often used in an excluding way, that one group defines very narrowly, what a certain national identity means and tries to exclude everyone else who is not fitting their definition and is not sharing their political views.

    In the US that would be the term Un-American for a lot people who have more social ideas for instance, in 3dr Reich German ethnic groups (Roma), religious groups (Jews), political groups (communists and socialists), sexual groups (homosexuals) were excluded and persecuted as Un-German, no matter for how many generations they were living in Germany.

    I am German, living in the Netherlands and have as a lot of the other listeners not clear-cut national affiliation. As you can imagine, being German I cannot be totally proud of my Nationality, but I also don’t want to become Dutch. Being German is part of my personal history and I embrace it as well as the idea of the diversity of a bigger identity as a European citizen and human being.

  218. 218 Sakriya
    August 27, 2008 at 10:08

    I am a nepali and i am proud to be it. Identity and nationality is not the same. Here in third world country like nepal, people want to go to US, UK, Australia and other top countries. They live in nepal but their first priority is other countries. So can i tell them nepali even though their heart is somewhere else?
    So I define Nationality as the place of which a person always thinks of.

  219. August 27, 2008 at 10:54

    our/your nationality is the place on earth where our/your former colonialists were able to partition and call it a republic.some nationalities came up as a result of one tribe partitioning itself,like Britanica….the english.

    creamium boy


  220. August 27, 2008 at 11:35

    I am not about to give myself to any religion, nation, etc.. I belong to myself and am no ones property. The world as it is was here before i came into it. I have not had a hand in any of it. The society of nations can constantly ally or enemy bombard the mass media what it wants the people to think and do but I am not falling for it.

    I tell you why.. I was born into this world and the government put a radio in me that caused me to relish every moment before I was implanted and when I was first broadcast to knew from that moment the errors of humanity and it’s demented society. A infants brain and cognitive ability surpasses the Gods and genius’s of the animal kingdom. The first broadcast was: “Look out and see the world you live in. ” I expanded beyond my body, the dwelling I was in and iI embodied the universe.

    The demented and abusive nations of humanity I live among you but I am not one of you. Your taught to be insane, savage, destructive to yourself and to the world you live in.

  221. 221 batguano101
    August 27, 2008 at 15:23

    Nationality is defined by the nation where you were born.

    An exception is the child born in a nation but a citizen at birth of a different nation, the child of citizens of the second nation.

    In the exception, the “citizen born abroad” is usually automatically provided with dual citizenship- the parents nation and the nation in which the child was born.

  222. 222 Henry Karnilowicz
    August 27, 2008 at 16:43

    I was born in a refugee camp in Germany of Polish parents. Migrated to Australia and have Australian citizenship. I now live in San Francisco and also have American citizenship. I regard myself as an Australian citizen as that is where I grew up.

    Henry Karnilowicz

  223. 223 primal convoy in Japan
    August 27, 2008 at 18:44

    HI folks. In Japan, where I live, for many foreigners, one thing that they lament is that to some, or perhaps many Japanese people, being “Japanese” is all about being born into a Japanese body, if you get my drift. Its hard for some of my students and Japanese friends (but not all of them) to separate the idea of Nationality from Race, to the extent that even though a “foreign” person can claim naturalized Japanese citizenship, they can still be excluded from public places due to being a “gaijin” (even though some say “gaikokojin” is a better term, but that;s a different mater altogether).

    Phew, long convoluted first paragraphs aside, in Japan, it can be a real challenge BUT a few years back, I asked my Junior High Students in Japan a set of questionaire questions to examine what they defined as being “Japanese” and “Foreign”. Although it wasnt very scientific, the results showed that there were no clear-cut expectations on what either term was, showing that there are Japanese who think “outside the box” (I was cautioned by a more forward thinking teacher about giving the same questions to the Japanese teaching staff as some of the older/conservative teachers might “get offended”).

  224. 224 natalie sara
    August 28, 2008 at 10:11

    language certainly does not define nationality.
    in singapore, the national language is malay, but everyone speaks english!

  225. 225 Yasmin Schwarzkopf
    August 28, 2008 at 21:36

    I was born in England of German and Polish parents. My mother was German and my father was Polish. My fther died when I was very young.

    I grew up speaking German and spent every summer and winter holiday in Germany! All my mother’s friends were German and we sang German carols, ate German food and had all the typical German customs. We were a very German family living in England and only ever spoke German home. I also went to a German school here in England on a Saturday ran by the German church for children of Germans.

    I went on to study German, teach there and later do an M.Phil. in German Literature and I am a German teacher. I lived in Germany for several years.I am totally bilingual

    I have a British passport, but consider myself much more German than British.
    I have no English family or relations and still find it difficult to relate to this country (England).

    I feel much more home in Germany and fit in there better. If someone asks me my nationality – I say half German, half Polish. It’s my blood and cultural heritage.

    I have applied for German citizenship and German nationality – as a direct descendent of German, but this ultimately will only be something official as I am in my heart of hearts German. The official proof of my nationality will only be a formality.

    Nationality is what makes you you. It’s blood, cultural and historic heritage, ancestry and is something you parents instil in you.

  226. 226 Prema Tamang
    August 29, 2008 at 09:50

    Different people have different thoughts about the meaning of Nationality. Actually the word seems very small but contains very big meaning. Its very difficult to difine its exact meaning. Well i would say that Nationality is the combination of many components like the place where one was born and can freely practice his/her different types of rights like eudcational, socail, political, psychological, and economical.


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