Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The last resort of a scoundrel...

Patriotism that is, according to Samuel Johnson anyway. I tend to disagree with such a silly statement, clearly Ambrose Bierce is much more accurate:

"In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.”

Apparently we they are proposing 'Britain Day'. On the plus side they are talking about making it a Bank Holiday, which would be cool but to be honest, they are much more likely to try and steal one of our weekends. This concept appears to have been developed by one of the Amazing Coma Twins, Ruth Kelly. She and her double act partner Patricia Hewitt tour the country demonstrating their ability to walk and talk whilst in a coma. I'm not sure how that qualifies them as cabinet ministers, but there you go.

I suspect that the day will consist mainly of flags. That and bigotry concealed beneath a barely visible veneer of tolerance - basically the Daily Mail in holiday format. In fact I imagine the Daily Mail will fully support the initiative as they are missing a Summer headline. I mean from November through December they lead with '[Muslims]* ruin Christmas'. In the run up to Easter - 'Muslims ruin Easter' and in the Autumn the 'Muslims ruin Halloween'. The problem they have is that 3-4 month bit in the middle that doesn't kind of run up to anything - they have to make do with stories about how anyone vaguely foreign looking has stolen all of our jobs, resulting in a child prodigy dying from starvation.

With a correctly positioned 'Britain Day' in that period, they could have a brand new headline 'Muslims ruin Britain Day'. I don't know how they come up with it I really don't!

*Of course 'Muslim' here can be replaced with any minority it is currently fashionable to persecute, such as Poles or any other eastern European.


Olivia said...

You old grump! First I will comment solely on your post without colouring my views with the news article.

I suppose the celebration of a Britain Day just goes against the British distaste for any emotional release apart from ranting, hooliganism, and drunken brawls.

Pride in one's country? Oh, the horror. I guess Americans can be proud of their country because their forebears did it on purpose, so to speak.

Olivia said...

OK, having read the article I can see that the protest arises in the fact that many of the "patriotic" elements resemble America's:
Citizenship ceremonies
Volunteer service
State of the Nation address

"BBC News political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Brown has wondered privately why young British men blew themselves and their fellow citizens up, when in the US, where they celebrate their citizenship much more, young Muslim men had not done the same."

Ooh, GOOD ONE...It's true. American Muslims are proud to be American. Every immigrant group can be proud and not feel excluded by, say 4th of July celebrations...but I have had this discussion before and it was probably on this blog...

Anyway you lot must be fed up of me sticking up for the Yanks every time...

MattJ said...

lol! hey calm down Liv! For once I wasn't actually making asides at the states or the bizarre penchant for a flagpole every 3 yards they have.

I am just cynnical about the motives for this particular move and know the tabloid press in this country too well! Combine that with the fact that the person in charge of this idea is pathologically incompetent, there is no way on this Earth that the businesses that run our government will allow a new public holiday and the inevitable hijacking by 'real' British people.

I had no intentions of drawing comparisons with American pagentry simply because it is an entirely different country. Trying to immitate an entirely different culture because it looks like it works over there and they speak a similar language to us is as vulgar as it is stupid. I am all for a new holiday, but we won't get one - we'll just get a cheap and tawdry 'solution' to the divides that have been created by successive governments. Maybe when a government provides a plan for social reform, instead of the regressions we see, the communities in poorer areas wouldn't be so fractured and frictitious.

Then again, maybe all they need is a flag.

And no, stick up for what you think all you like - I love a good argument! hehe and it's interesting to see such a different view on the origins and history of the states to what i have.

Hanrah said...

I really don't see the point of it at all - and clearly Hewitt doesn't either 'cos she really hasn't described what Britain Day would actually be about except some vague mumbling about "maybe there could be something local??".
We already have Citizenship tests and ceremonies, which probably leave the applicants with a better knowledge of Britain than 98% of people born here!
"Volunteer Service" is also a pretty vague thing - which will never happen, as sooner or later someone will demand that MPs and other rich people will have to do it too.
And do we really need a "State of the Nation" address? It'll just be another platform for the PM to tell us that we're all gonna die if we don't allow them to dismantle our civil liberties. We already have an equally pointless tradition in the Queen's Speech - do we really need Gordon doing one too?

You can't just artificially construct a holiday because everyone else has one and expect it to bring people together. Doing it that way will just make the whole thing seem fake and forced. July 4th and Bastille Day grew out of real events that nations shared, which were celebrated by those involved and then became tradition. To turn around after 800 years and go "Woohoo! The Magna Carta!" is never going to catch on - none of us were there, no-one has ever celebrated it, so why the hell would we start?!

Sorry for the excessive rant - I have issues! lol!

MattJ said...

Lol! I kept putting stuff up here about national pride and why I really do see patriotism as the last resort of the scoundrel, but that's not the point of the post really!

Like hanrah says, just what are we celebrating? July 4th is historically significant day marking a massive event that forever changed the course of American history, it's the same with other nations' similar days - March 3rd in Bulgaria, Bastille day in France, Australia day celebrates the founding of a nation. Britain Day? If i get a day off work I am all for it but flags are for decorating embassys, barracks and castles, not for lawn ornaments.

Hanrah said...

Maybe to display true Britishness we should all join together in a large queue (with cups of tea strategically placed along the route) to complain about having Britain Day at all - and chuck in a complaint about the Olympic Logo too, just for good measure!

After all, that is what being British is TRULY about!

MattJ said...

hahah! That's the spirit! Though I am goign to do a post about he Olympic logo now...... heheh!

Olivia said...

It's true though - the Britain of today wasn't formed definitively out of one historical event, as the US was out of Independence Day and France out of Bastille Day, so there isn't a point, sure - but of course I was just arguing!

I like Hanrah's idea - could do a Queue across Britain with lots of cuppas, and complain about Britain and what makes it so lovably hateful/hatefully lovable.

By the way Matt, I am reading a book called "A Fete Worse Than Death: a juorney through an English summer" by Iain Aitch - you might enjoy it.

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