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In Defense of Cosmopolitanism

Nowadays, the word "cosmopolitan" conjures an image of jet-setting, latte-sipping elitists with little or no regard for their fellow citizens. In fact, cosmopolitans are idealists for whom love of country begins with a fundamental commitment to the equal dignity of all human beings.

LONDON – Cosmopolitanism gets plenty of bad press nowadays. “Cosmopolitan” is often paired with “elites,” as in the cosmopolitan elites who sip cappuccino in the morning and pinot noir at night, jet around to places like Davos, and enjoy big gains from the digital revolution.

Once upon a time, anti-cosmopolitanism was code for anti-Semitism. Nowadays, cosmopolitans are former UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s “citizens of nowhere”: a foil for the noble citizens of somewhere who remain firmly rooted in the communities supposedly under attack by the globalization promoted by heartless cosmopolitans.

There is just one problem with this narrative: it is deeply misleading. And, for political reasons, that confusion matters.

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