Saturday, June 12, 2010
My country 'tisn't of thee
As the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, it is hard to imagine any participating nation discouraging its citizens from flying the national flag in support of their team. Any nation, that is, except my native land, where my departure has clearly lowered the national average IQ even more than I previously thought.
English - as opposed to British - nationalism is rarely as fervent as the Scottish and Welsh varieties - there is no English Nationalist Party in Parliament, and unlike Scotland and Wales, England has no Parliament of its own. Only major sporting events generally bring out displays of English patriotism, when the cross of Saint George, England's patron saint, is seen more often than the United Kingdom's Union Flag ( as the Union Jack is properly called).
One of the reasons being given by killjoys for banning the flying of the flag is fears that it might appear racist. Where do these people live? Clearly they haven't noticed that England's football team has been racially integrated for two decades - indeed, several black players have captained it over the years, and mixed-race player Rio Ferdinand would be doing so in this tournament had he not been injured.
It is true that members of the odious British National Party like to cloak themselves in the flag, but singer Billy Bragg neatly put their bullshit into perspective when he pointed out that their anti-immigration policies would make St George, born in the Middle East, unwelcome in England. (Ironically, the YouTube clip was apparently posted by a BNP supporter). But then logic has never been racists' strong point - I am old enough to remember people arguing that no black player would ever be good enough to play for England - at the very time when Pele (certainly not white) was establishing his reputation as the greatest footballer of all time.