John McCain Condemns “Half-Baked Spurious Nationalism” at Medal Ceremony

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.”

In what was widely interpreted as a rebuke of white nationalism and the “America first” principles embraced by President Donald Trump, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday warned against the dangers of “half-baked spurious nationalism.”

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” McCain said during his acceptance speech for the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, where he was introduced by former Vice President Joe Biden, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil,” he continued.

McCain was one of the few Republicans to condemn Trump by name for his response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, when the president repeatedly blamed both sides for the violence and claimed that there were some “very fine people” among the white nationalists.

The Arizona senator’s mention of “blood and soil” was a reference to some of the chants used by the white supremacists during the rally.

The event on Monday was dedicated to honoring McCain’s service. Trump has never apologized for claiming the Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war was “not a war hero.” 

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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