Thursday, May 05, 2005

Flags pt2

Someone commented on my previous post about how strange it was that someone could be considered racist for displaying their national flag in their own country.

Let’s be specific here.

We’re talking Britain here.

Let’s be more specific

We’re talking England.

I can think of no other country on Earth where people feel that they cannot display their national flag.

Now, the explanation given for that is because the Union Jack and the Cross of St George have been hijacked by racists and fascists, tarnishing their image.

That’s bollocks though isn’t it.

Plenty of other countries have extreme nationalist parties that display national flags but residents in those countries haven’t abandoned their symbols of nationhood.

Nope, ultra right groups in the UK picked up our flag after it was dropped by the mainstream. They didn’t hijack it. No-one was holding it.

Without repeating thoughts I have already expressed, it’s fairly clear to me that the new British establishment has a streak of middle-class guilt and self-loathing running right down its Chablis-swilling back. According to this strain of thinking the British are xenophobic and narrow minded, live in a country with a uniquely shameful history, their society and institutions are outdated and, above all, we never ever forget The War. World War 2 that is, not that other War.

Now we’re really talking bollocks.

Britain is the most ethnically diverse nation in Europe, possibly the World and it is the mother, or saviour, or both, of pretty much every democracy in that World. People are strapping themselves to the underside of freight trains to get here.

… and we’re ashamed of our flag.

The debate on whether we should integrate further with the European Union is a fine example of our supposed xenophobia and narrow mindedness. Apparently, we’re not to keen on signing up for more Europe because we’re a nation of insular Little Englanders. Umm, that would be the same European Union that seriously doesn’t want to admit Turkey on the basis that it’s full of Muslims. By my reckoning, even if you believe that the British are still obsessed with 1945, that puts us about 270 years ahead of the rest of Western Europe. The Ottoman Turks were turned back from the walls of Vienna in 1683 which, as bigoted race memory goes, leaves even the Irish and the Scots far behind.

That Neo Nazi sticker I commented on in my earlier post represents, in part, an extreme expression of a reaction against this curious self-loathing some of the British have for their own identity. Let’s be quite clear. I’m absolutely not condoning fascist thinking but I do think it’s sensible to try and understand the drivers behind it.

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