Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Kenneth Aslakson

Second Advisor

Mark Walker




Arab, September 11, 9/11, Patriotism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, United States


The United States has always claimed to be endowed with unique values, such as tolerance and justice, and so throughout its history has sought to convey these values with expressions of patriotism. However, is this patriotism simply symbolic, and further, does it even lead itself to xenophobia and racism. This thesis seeks to answer this question by examining the genesis and development of patriotism throughout the country’s history, as well as the way in which its racism and xenophobia have changed. Beginning with a general examination of the usefulness and positivity of patriotism from a scholarly standpoint, the basic points regarding the controversial issue are laid out. The main ideas of this dispute are provided by noted scholars George Kateb and John Kleinig in their works Patriotism and Other Mistakes and The Ethics of Patriotism: A Debate, respectively. Next, using research on history of the United States beginning from the Revolution, and ending with the Vietnam Era, an extensive picture of these issues in America develops. This then provides good comparison to the main discussion of this thesis; the change in patriotism and islamophobia following September 11th, and how they are connected. This will mainly revolve around the changing relationship that America had with its Arab and Muslim citizens, as well its changing relationship with the world. (The former is in many ways a result of the latter). In this more recent era, more primary sources are to be used, such as One America in the 21st Century: The President's Initiative on Race, as well as Newspaper articles. The positions of Patriotism and Islamophobia following soon after 2001 will be the peak of the research and discussion, as further than this is arguably too recent to garner useful research.

Throughout this thesis, the various issues with patriotism are explored, as well as its possibility for usefulness. What is meant to be shown throughout is that patriotism can and has been used to uphold the positive values of the country, but only when it is iconoclastic and willing to be admitted as false. When patriotism has been used symbolically and nationalistically, it has been the cause of extreme racism and xenophobia, especially in times of crisis such as during World War Two and after September 11th. In fact, patriotism has been a self fulfilling idea, as it seeks to protect itself by weeding out dissent. What this all shows is that patriotism is a hard term to get a clear definition of, but its form in the first decade of the 21st century was very damaging. It must be made to resemble a purer form of loyalty to the ideal rather than the symbol to ever be practical again.