I posted this week on the spectre of nationalism (and the inherent pseudo xenophobic racism) which erupts now and again throughout Europe, highlighting that, even after the Second World War and the millions of dead, not much has changed, and a vein of intolerance, based around nationality, religion, and, yes, colour, continues to thump, thump, thump under the surface of continental, right-wing cultures, not out-of-place in 1930’s Berlin.
This month, we’re looking at some of the people who contribute, in some way or another, to this ideology of intolerance.
Let’s have a look at some crap from people who live in this Little England:
When I was their age it was crystal clear. Newspapers would report: “Fog in the Channel: Europe cut off.” Peter Ustinov would arrive at JFK airport and, having studied the signs saying “US citizens” and “Aliens”, he’d ask a security guard where the British should go. We were separate, different, better.
Reminding ourselves that Peter Ustinov, the quoted epitome of Britishness, the same Peter Alexander Baron von Ustinow, was son of a German father and Russian mother, with a fair distribution of Ethiopian, French and Italian ancestry. Not that I’m disputing his nationality, because, IT DOESN’T MATTER, but be mindful of the people you use to demonstrate Britishness, given that Ustinov was clearly just say British (It helps that his German father was a spy for MI5.)
We had saved the world from tyranny so often we’d lost count;
Was that because the British Empire, the largest empire humanity had ever seen, which encompassed entire continents at various times in its history, was less than tolerant of other powers within its borders, and our governor’s ruled like tyrants in North America, Africa, Australia, India etc, thereby removing the functionality of other tyrants?
We were defined by our brilliance, our superiority, our technical know-how.
Of course, in the same that if I travelled back to Victorian London with a fully charged iPod, I would be defined by my iPod. The Industrial Revolution started in Britain, and, therefore, and obviously, defined us. It wasn’t as if the rest of the world, from the 16th to 19th century, had everything we did, but thought, ‘Wow, the British rock this better than we do’
Empire? When I was at school, teachers spoke with pride about how a little island in the north Atlantic turned a quarter of the world pink, but now all teachers talk about is the slave trade and how we must hang our heads in shame.
I forgot Jeremy left school last month, and has such close grasp of the current history curriculum. Aside from this, the problem with boasting about ‘turning a quarter of the world pink‘, was that it was mostly at the expense, and exploitation, of native cultures.
I believe people need to feel like they’re part of a gang, part of a tribe. And I also believe we need to feel pride in our gang.
This demonstrates what bolsters nationalism: tribes, historically, fought one another, not just for survival, but supremacy, revealing a modern undercurrent of militarism, and a pride in the days of militaristic glory, the kind that Prussian monarchs would have exuded. Whenever Britain is glorified, it usually includes something related to the second world war. Britain has never been a militaristic nation. That’s why people find it hard to swallow when moron’s bleat on about ‘Rule Britannia’. The likes of Clarkson remind me of WWI veteran general’s, who never fought, but sipped brandy, trying to remember the glorious battles.
This is the only country in the world where the national flag is deemed offensive.
Yes, because, the likes of the EDL and BNP, believing in the kind of tripe Clarkson does, saw a niche in quiet, calm, ‘Britishness’, and perverted the flag. We never had a reason to flutter the flag at our front doors; not because we had nothing to be proud of, but simply because we didn’t see the need to, in the same way I don’t need to walk around with a placard saying ‘I’m Gay’, because I’m neither proud, nor ashamed. I just am. In the same way I am just British. I just am. It’s an attempt to identify with our tribalism, and hark back to militaristic glory, and, usually, challenging someone to say/do something contrary.
I sometimes get the impression Kate McCann is being hounded precisely because she has a stiff upper lip.
I don’t think it is, Jeremy.
Today disabled people get a statue in Trafalgar Square just because they got pregnant.
Again, I don’t think that was quite why. I think it was more because of its artistic and critical challenge, and not a commentary on the success of someone’s fertility. That’s just an uneducated guess.
Cowardice is the new bravery.
Is Clarkson actually a Klingon Viking? Are we all to aspire to an honourable death in battle?
I want to end with a question. It’s addressed to all the equal opportunity, human rights, diet carbon, back room, bleeding heart liberals who advise the government: “I am English. Why is that a good thing?”
Not for the reasons you think, Jez.