Sunday, 15 March 2009

~This Is England...Just Don't Tell Anyone~

Today saw Birmingham's St Patrick's Day parade.

I was going to go this year, but work made sure that I didn't.

St Patricks Day is quite an occasion here in the UK, with pretty much every pub doing the obligatory 'Guinness' promotion.

It's quite an occasion in Ireland too, I'd wager.

Just as St Andrew's day is a big deal in Scotland and St David's day is a big deal in Wales.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for St George's Day here in England.

Somehow, we have allowed the situation to arise where it is acceptable to be proud of one's Scottishness, Welshness of Irishness, but decalring yourelf as 'English' is frowned upon and the declarer deemed to be a rabid racist of the worst order.

If you are 'English', then one has to be 'British' in order to be politically correct.

The last few years HAVE seen a few St George's Day parades, but these seem to be discouraged at every turn by whichever local authority is in charge.

My local council have refused to grant a licence to hold the Sandwell St George's Day parade this year, their excuse being that the British National Party were distributing leaflets at last year's event.

I'm in no way a supporter of the BNP, but they are a legitimate political party who have every right to dostribute leaflets if they want to. I don't agree with them, but I agree with their right to free speech.

Everyone is equal, after all.......

Unless you happen to be English......

And have the audacity to actually live in England.....

TODAY'S MOOD: Disliking double standards.

SOUNDTRACK: The Clash - 'This Is England'

Even the slideshow put together for this video seems to mistake 'British' and 'English'.

FOOTNOTE: I am an Englishman, Wednesbury born....

The Victimised Groover


  1. Love that song.

    Further to your pont, we've talked about it here at the beginning of rugby games - there never seems to be an English national anthem only God Save the Queen which we thought was the British one but Scotland and Wales don't use it - what is the English national anthem? Is there one?

  2. Lou:

    That is a VERY good point.

    Personally, I'd pick 'Jerusalem' or 'Land of Hope and Glory' as the English national anthem.

  3. During the Soccer games in 2006 the Germans FINALLY showed a bit of patriotism, even actually having the national anthem played and German flags displayed. For obvious reasons, national pride is rarily displayed. And within Germany? People are usually quite proud about which state they are from, especially the Bavarians!

    So, what are YOU? British or English? *evil grin*

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  6. Dorrie:

    Just as the Germans flagelate themselves for WWII, the English flagelate themselves for the audacity of once having the biggest empire the world has ever seen.

    After all, it's only the English who are 'British' these days.

    Oh, I consider myself as both 'English' AND 'British' ;-P

  7. Well, you need to get a petition going, to have a St. British Day parade. That'd go over, wouldn't it? lol. Hugs.

  8. My knowledge of all of this is limited due to the fact I'm American, but typically such displays are for formally marginalized members of society. African-Americans were slaves and weren't considered human, and days like Martin Luther King Jr. Day are given to commemorate his achievements for African-Americans. For Irish-Americans such as myself, St. Patrick's Day is a sort of celebration for overcoming the prejudices the Irish had when they first arrived in America - "No Irish Need Apply."

    Parades for dominate groups don't typically happen because minority groups can claim every day is privileged for them. So victimized? It depends. On the one hand, the English did some terrible things in their history to the Irish and others (I'm not chastising you...America has done similiar things and the Irish haven't exactly been friendly back), so it's hardly fair to claim yourself as a victim. On the other hand, your generation personally didn't perpetuate any of those things - they were generations way before you.

    Regardless, you have every right to be proud of being English.

  9. cartguyforever:

    Yup, we've done some pretty lousy things over the centuries, but we've done more than our share of good deeds too.

    The sad thing is that even our own eductional system emphasises the bad over the good. Hence the present situation where it's fine to be Scottish, Welsh or Irish, but it's frowned upon to declare yourself as English.

    Scots, for example, are the dominant group in Scotland, but it's still ok for them to celebrate St Andrew's Day. So why the double standards with regard to the English?

    I'm not being too emotive when I say that the most discriminated against race in England are the English themselves.

    And that's coming from a (realist) socialist!

  10. And I'm not trying to imply the English are evil and did nothing but horrible things - that isn't the case at all. And I understand what you're saying. There are a lot of people - and I'm just expressing the argument and not giving my two cents on the issue - that view affirmative action in America as punishment for slavery. And many are upset because they feel they had nothing to do with that period in history, as horrible as it may have been, and don't understand why they're taking the brunt of it.

    I'll say this - as an Irish-American, I can appreciate St. Patrick's Day and I love to celebrate it because I know what it stands for. But the truth is, I have never experienced discrimination for being Irish-American. The harshness relatives of mine felt in England or the slights they received when they arrived in the United States is lost on me - I've been treated fairly and kindly my whole life. And to me, St. Patrick's Day is just a fun holiday where everybody, no matter what their background, can be Irish for the day.

    I dated an English Protestant girl whose father was from Manchester for nearly two years. Many close friends of mine are WASPS and we think nothing of it. Maybe it's America's distance, or maybe it's time simply having passed, but we don't judge each other based on what we are but on who we are.

    I can understand your frustration at being proud of being English yet not being able to celebrate it adequately. I don't know the political climate in the United Kingdom, obviously, but maybe you can start such a parade and movement.

  11. cartguyforever:

    I don't have a problem with the other UK nations celebrating their own particular Saint's day. In fact, I would have attended today's St Patrick's Day parade myself if I hadn't been working.

    It just smacks of blatant discrimination when, as well as the UK countries, we have Afro-Carribean and various Asian carnivals, but the only one singled out as being 'racist' is our own St George's parade.

    'Multiculturalism' should be inclusive of the home nation too.

  12. I agree. The English should be able to celebrate their heritage as well. Fair is fair.

  13. And as a show of good will from America...feel free to keep Madonna even though she split with Guy.

  14. cartguyforever:

    Hmmm.....what should we do with her?

  15. Keep her out of the United States - particularly Michigan.

  16. My views sort-of reflect cartguy’s. I’ve never felt that the English, or anyone else, needs an annual day of celebration (or, heaven help us, a song) in order to feel proud of our country.

    Generally speaking (and I admit it’s a pretty sweeping generalisation) it’s countries which have just achieved something such as independence from another country, or the establishment of a republic, or something similar, who are most likely to have a national holiday to commemorate their nationhood.

    England hardly needs that, given its dominant place in Britain and British politics. Many Scots, Welsh and Irish are trying to achieve various levels of autonomy within the UK (or independence from it), but England isn’t trying to break away from Britain. We’re uniquely placed in NOT having a reason to distinguish ourselves from our ‘rulers’. We’re the ones who conquered, colonised or subjugated Wales, Scotland and Ireland. To have any meaningful equivalent we’d be marking our independence from the Romans, or the Danes, or whatever.

    Let me put it another way. Some politician or other (probably Blair) made a remark about inculcating a greater sense of patriotism in people by getting kids to sing a nationalistic song at school, have flags flown from state buildings and so on. Do you think it would? To me, and to many others, this sounded a bit too un-English. Part of what makes us English (and don’t laugh) is our LACK of ostentation. Leave it to the US to have flag-raisings at schools, leave it to the Soviet Union to have May Day parades. We don’t need them – we’re secure enough in our identity as it is.

    Oh yeah, and as cartguy said, don’t set too much by St Patrick’s Day parades. Few people who take part in them are Irish. They’re Irish-Americans or whatever, and they’re not celebrating their nationality or national pride. Most of them have never been to Ireland. It’s just a celebration. It’s much like Christmas is celebrated by just about everyone in the world, even though only a tiny fraction of them are devout Christians. People just like an excuse to get drunk and sing.

  17. Simon:

    Don't you think it's about time that the welsh, Scots and Irish grew up a little with regard to the 'conquering English' stuff?

    They seem to do pretty well out of 'Great Britain'.

    You know as well as I about the discrepancies with regard to prescription charges and university tuition fees. I daresay there are more examples too.

    Part of me thinks they should grow up and get into the 21st century, part of me wants to tell them a blunt 'f*ck off' and let them have their independance....just don't come crying back when it all goes tits up!

  18. I agree so much with Simon's last paragraph! LOL Its a reason to get drunk for most...and look stupid wearing green face paint and wigs.

    But I did want to say...

    You have talked about this before. Until I visited, I didn't realize how truly mulit-cultural England was! I went expecting to mostly see what are perceived as 'English' people, but your list of ethnic groups is as long as ours!

    I think it is just a recent human thing to not be the perceived 'bad guy'. Those in power always have to walk that fine line. Here in the US, it seems being Irish-American or whatever -American you can makes it easier to be not part of the ones who crapped over others since Europe discovered this rock. It used to be assimilating if you could and 'just being an American' was the desired state for most people (at least publicly). If you couldn't assimilate because of color or ethnic features, or simply changing your name, you tried to make your ethnicity work for you. Now it seems being ethnic and historically discriminated against is the new trend. Not that people weren't necessarily always proud of who they were, it just didn't used to pay to make a big deal of it.

    We still have the traditionally American celebrations, but do try to stay away from the bad stuff as much as possible.

  19. The Lioness:

    I'd go as far as to say that no other country in the world has done as much in the name of multiculturalism as England.

    To the point where we barely have a recognisable culture ourselves. I've even heard it said that the English 'have no culture'. A statement which, if said about any other race, would have caused outrage.

    Yet we have out noses rubbed in it time and time and time again. We are accused of racism at every turn, as are our institutions.

    It gets a bit old after a while.

  20. I think it is the same here with 'white' Americans. They can't win for losing in some ways. There is some white guilt that perpetuates the problem, but some of it is the chip on some minorities' shoulders that makes it easier to yell racism (and expect something to be given to you) than to just do your best with the opportunities that are available.

    Yes, racism exists, but it exists on all sides and against all people.

    We can't really make up for the past as a country, but if we don't start learning from and moving forward from the crap of the past we will just continue to sit in it and stink.

    Sorry, I know I got off the British thing, but I'm not really an expert on all that. There are similarities though. ;-)

  21. Lone Groover: What you say about English culture is accurate. There's a reason why English as a language is so widespread - the English were very open to incorporating words from other languages, unlike the French, for example, who actually have governmental boards to protect the French language. You succeeded because you were flexible.

    Simon: I take a bit of an issue with your assessment of St. Patrick's Day. While I agree a major motivation for St. Patrick's Day is an excuse to drink (why do you think Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo?), there are many Irish-Americans who are proud of being just that. The notion America is a melting pot is false - we're more like a salad bowl. While every group that has come to America has conformed to an extent - most have learned English - we don't assimilate to the extent people assume. There's a "Little Italy" in places like New York and Chicago for a reason. Many ethnic groups - though it's becoming less prominent as Americans draw lineage from more nationalities than just one or two - stuck together in their own little communities within the United States. Americans take individualism to another level - I'm from Michigan, I'm Catholic, I'm Irish-American, I'm American, etc.

    Well St. Patrick's Day is just a fun holiday, and I personally have had a great life free of discrimination - I think it's important I never forget why I'm here in the first place: my ancestors fled during the potato famine. I'm a descendant of refugees. And while it would be unfair of me to harbor ill-will toward the English for something I never experienced personally, it's important I know where I came from. So to tell people to get over it - and I can understand your argument that you being held liable for a history you never lived is unfair - is unfair as well.

  22. cartguyforever:

    Yes, it's important to know where your roots are, but it's also important to keep things in perspective.

    I don't hold a grudge against the Danes because the Vikings came raping and pillaging all those years ago. Nor do I have a dislike of Italians because the Romans invaded us.

    I think the past should be learned from, then left where it is; in the past.

    It's both pointless and damaging to carry ill-feeling for something that happened centuries ago.

  23. The Lioness:

    Ahhhh....the old caucasian guilt chestnut....

  24. Lone Groover:

    I feel exactly the same way. While I'm mindful of why I'm here and not in Ireland, it would be unfair to hold a grudge against the English for things that happened long ago when I wasn't even around. That's why I feel you should have every right to have an English parade.

    I reserve my opinion toward people - not groups of people - based on how they've treated me personally and not based on skirmishes of ancestors.

    But at the same time, telling people to get over it isn't exactly fair either.

  25. Don't you think it's about time that the Welsh, Scots and Irish grew up a little with regard to the 'conquering English' stuff?

    I entirely agree with you – it gets on my nerves intensely. But people are people, and there’s nothing like bearing grudges against a common oppressor for giving you a sense of national identity. Carla sums up this very well when talking of minority groups in the US (such as the Irish-Americans or African-Americans): it gives them a feeling of superiority, which is what nationalism is all about. If some of your ancestors have suffered in some way in the past, it makes you feel that you too have some sort of a cause, and a sense of unity.

    Cartguy, sorry if that rather throwaway remark about St Patrick’s Day parades insulted you, but in your own answer you acknowledge that there’s no logic in harbouring grudges by people who haven’t experienced something against people who haven’t caused it. Knowing something of your ancestors’ history is fine, but let’s keep things in proportion. What if some of your ancestors are English? Are you going to apologise on their behalf? Are you going to apologise because the Irish Celts displaced the Neolithic people who occupied Ireland before them? Apologise to the Picts because Irish Scots invaded what is now Scotland and wiped them out? And if you say “That would be nonsense!” then you get some of the idea why the English get pissed off as being portrayed as the bad guys all the time.

    Hell, my surname is Butler, so I’m probably part Irish: perhaps I should be demanding an apology from myself. I have Welsh relatives, and since my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Walker, I’m probably partly Scottish. Of course my mother is German, so lets me half off the hook vis-a-vis the Irish Potato Famine – no one blames the Germans for that. But should I apologise for the Holocaust? You tell me.

    And while this presumably doesn’t affect you, what about those Irish emigrants who went to the Southern States and ran slave plantations? Are their descendants going to apologise to African-Americans? I doubt it. And why should they? Perhaps all Africans should be apologising to the United States for those of their ancestors they sold to slave traders? It makes as much sense. Indeed many African-Americans should be blaming their ancestors.

    The ‘our cultural history’ may have some sense to it, but it’s mostly just to give people that badly-needed sense of belonging to a group, and having a past. It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or fair, just so long as they have it.

    I’ll leave it there, or I’ll be writing a book, but hopefully I’ll have conveyed my opinion on the matter. Apologies again for the length of the comment.

  26. Simon:

    With attitudes like yours, it's no wonder there are people who still harbor grudges.

    "There’s nothing like bearing grudges against a common oppressor for giving you a sense of national identity."

    You're right - thank you for giving Irish-Americans a sense of pride. That makes the potato famine completely worth it. Perhaps the Jews should thank Nazi Germany. I mean, if Hitler and his boys hadn't tried to exterminate them all, odds are the United Nations wouldn't have felt sorry for them to the point they allowed the establishment of Israel.

    The reason I feel those who belong to a minority group shouldn't hold ill-will stems from my experience in America. While I feel awful for slavery and feel it should never be forgotten, the current population in America had nothing to do with it.

    Despite your insensitive remarks, I do not hold a grudge against, or disrespect, the English. I merely have a lack of respect for ignorant people.

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  28. Sorry I wrote a huge comment and then read it back and realised it didn't make a lot of sense!

    I was basically saying that while yes we are losing our own cultural identity, I can understand why their is an apprehension when it comes to St Georges day.

    The George Cross being seen on TV too often wrapped round some idiot knocking seven shades out of some other guy with a bar stool for one or an idiot with it painted on his face throwing a petrol bomb at a police car in Italy.

    "England" is too often associated with football fans and violence and our flag along with the Union Flag (it's only the Union Jack when it's on a ship) used as a rallying point for whatever nationalist group of the day who want to ship everyone back to where they came from, which would leave England pretty much empty seeing as the people that are indigenous to our country have been wiped out or interbred with a multitude of other cultures over the millenia but let's be honest, they aren't thinking this through at all anyway, it's just pure bollocks and hatred they are spouting.

    National pride is too often associated with let's kick the crap out of the other guy in England and that's the whole problem with having a parade, the man power alone needed to try and contain any violence that might spring up is mind boggling.

    They were thinking of stopping the Notting Hill carnival for the same reasons, it's just too hard to police and ensure the safety of people with so many idiots around.

    We all want a sense of belonging, an identity and being tribal as all humans are, we want to belong to a group and celebrate our group.

    It's the idiots who want to prove their national pride and identity by beating the hell out of other cultures and the reputation that sticks to us all because of them that makes local councils say no to St Georges day.

    It's sad but true, I was even asked at Immigration in the USA just last month if I had ever been arrested I said no and the response was "what not even for being drunk and singing football songs in the street or fighting?" after all I am English and that is how we're portrayed on TV and all be it a racist remark it's the fact that people here do, do that and it makes the news so often that, that is the reputation we all get.

  29. Simon / cartguyforever:

    That's quite a discussion you have going there. Unfortunately, I don't have time for a worthy reply at the moment.

  30. Tristram:

    "The George Cross being seen on TV too often wrapped round some idiot knocking seven shades out of some other guy with a bar stool for one or an idiot with it painted on his face throwing a petrol bomb at a police car in Italy."

    Yes it is...just as it's often associated with nationalist groups.....and that's the problem; they are pretty well the only time we ever actually SEE the English flag!

    I can't think of another country that's made to feel quite so ashamed of it's own flag and culture.

    Hell, it wouldn't be ALLOWED to happen anywhere else!!

    I am English and I'm proud of the fact. That doesn't make me a racist.

  31. i'm english but it's not my choice... i was born here to english parents, so i'm english; we're all english by accident so what is there to celebrate? Proud to be english? it's like being proud to have brown eyes or proud to be over 6ft...
    Paddy's day etc became big because of immigrants/emigrants feeling homesick.
    I rather like the fact that St George's Day gains no traction... it means that english people who have moved abroad don't feel the need to associate with the homeland and assimilate into their new countries well.
    having pride in one's country simply because one is born there, is just entirely illogical for me.
    nationalism is like religion, it suits the leaders massively if people feel some binding force, it makes them much easier to control.
    one look at the majority of the morons in the street here, one look at our foreign policy over my life time is enough for me not to give two tosses to be associated with england; do i want to be another nationality? nope... not at all.

  32. Dickingtonbar II: I can understand what you're saying but there's nothing wrong with being proud of being English. The English have contributed lots of wonderful things to this world, and aa Cecil Rhodes once said, "Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.” The English have accomplished much and there's no shame in taking pride in that.

    Tristram: I've never dealt with United States customs so you'd have more experience with that than me, but I have a friend who taught in China for a year and when he returned customs gave him a hard time too and he's American. He told me they asked him whether he felt China was more home than America and things like that. From what he told me they try to harass you to get a rise out of you - to see if they can get you angry. While it could be possible the customs agents you dealt with just had bad stereotypes of the English, they may have been trying to irritate you too. Nice of them, eh?

  33. there's everything wrong about being proud of being any nationality
    Cecil Rhodes can bite my arse

  34. Dickingtonbar II: Compelling counterargument.

    I'm not saying that national pride is always a good thing. Pride can blind and lead to dangerous decisions. When you are unable to criticize decisions of your government without being branded unpatriotic - as was the case in the United States the past eight years - pride can be harmful to the point of danger. However, there is nothing wrong with being proud of where you're from or what lineage your blood entails. Branding nationality as nothing short of having brown hair or brown eyes reduces passion, a fundamental part of humanity. We're emotive people and it's a part of the human experience.

    I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone is passive.

  35. Dickingtonbar II:

    The 'binding force' that you seem to despise is called 'society', or 'community spirit'.

    No doubt you adhere to Maggie's matra that there is 'no such thing as society'?

    Look where 25 years of 'me, myself and I' have got us!!

    I don't just mean the banking crisis, I mean the selfishness, greed and disrespect that's eating away at every aspect of our lives.

    There's nothing wrong with being proud of your homeland. It's nothing like being proud of having brown eyes. If you think that, you've missed the point entirely.

  36. cartguyforever:

    "I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone is passive"

    Wouldn't it be a boring place to live if everyone was?

  37. Lone Groover:

    Definitely. I'm not going to deny bad things can come about from passion and nationality, but if every human being engaged in problem-solving (or used it as a philosophy of life) in a cold, rational way, we'd cease to be human. A good example is in the movie "Equilibrium."

  38. Being an American, I have to wholeheartedly agree with Simon's assessment regarding St. Patrick's Day in the's what we call "Amateur Night." One of those days that's merely an excuse to go to a bar and take advantage of drink specials and drink substandard Stout (yes Guinness, I'm talking to you) and weak lager dyed green, when those who don't normally drink a lot do so because "they're celebrating the fact that their great-great-grandfather fled the famine".

    There's no culture associated with it. Nothing is learned by anyone about Irish history. The only fact we learn about the Irish is their ability to ferment grains and make 56,745 recipes using a tuber (which is about 56, 740 too many). Maybe if they did like they do for Black History Month, and every night on TV that week show news snippets of contributors to Irish culture, I could take it seriously, but St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in the US for the exact same reason as Cinco de Mayo and get drunk. A tiny percentage do it to show off the fact that they have Irish ancestry. Those are the ones marching in the parade.

    And then, 7 months later they do it again on the first weekend of October, pretending they're Bavarian (only Bavarians celebrate Oktoberfest...and unbeknownst to ignorant Americans, it's the last 2 weeks of September, ending the first weekend of October, yet you can be sure you'll get drink specials for Becks all October, despite the fact Becks is not Bavarian).

  39. Steve: I'm not going to disagree with you. The vast majority of Americans that celebrate St. Patrick's Day are either a) not Irish or b) doing it just to get drunk.

    There are people, however, with Irish ancestry that also take pride in the day. And I wouldn't go so far as to say there's no culture surrounding the day. If you were to tune into the History Channel or something similar this week I'm sure you'd see a historical progression of Irish contributions to American history and the discrimination they faced initially. The information is there if you were to seek it out, but no, it isn't on par with Black History Month where it's actually taught in schools.

  40. First of all, apologies to Andy for continuing to drag out this argument in his blog. This is the last comment I’ll make on the subject, I promise.

    Cartguy: I was hoping that any reasonable person would interpret the phrase of mine you quoted according to the context I placed it in. For your benefit I will rephrase it more exactly:

    “In order to give a group of people a sense of national identity, there’s nothing like bearing grudges against a group of other people, some of whose ancestors may have lived in the country whose then leaders, several generations ago, oppressed the people in the country where some of your ancestors came from.”

    I hope that is clearer. I hope it also highlights the absurdity of the sort of logic employed by some nationalistic groups. The Nazi Party in the 1930s used just such logic to create a greater sense of national identity for Germans, by demonising the Jews, the communists, the Gypsies and so on, and of course the same tactics are used in just about any country whenever the opportunity arises. It’s very easy to manipulate people in this way, because it’s what people want to hear – a common enemy they can blame all their problems on. If you want an example from the US that doesn’t even involve race, consider the anti-communist hysteria of the McCartney years. It relies on most people being suggestible and not very imaginative, but that’s why it works so well.

    I can believe you when you say that with attitudes like mine people harbour grudges. Such people prefer to cling on to irrational prejudice rather than common sense, and don’t like to be told that. That is essentially the point I was making. I don’t go to parades or rallies saying ‘Fuck the [name of country or race in question], some of their ancestors once did something terrible to some of my ancestors!’

    Now you can believe me or not, but I don’t hate the Irish, the Americans, Iraqis, Russians, Israelis or indeed the people of any nation. As DB has indicated, the people of a country are simply those who happen to have been born there. Perhaps I should hate you because you’re partly Irish, and are therefore linked in some intangible way to the atrocities carried out by Irish Nationalists during the Troubles. I don’t of course, because that would be ridiculous.

    I like living in the UK. It’s a beautiful country. I even feel pleased if England beat Germany at an international football match. But I don’t delude myself that there’s any mystical property that makes its people superior to those of any other country.

  41. Simon:

    I appreciate your attempt at clarity but I believe your intent came through rather clearly the first time around, with comments such as this one:

    “Carla sums up this very well when talking of minority groups in the US (such as the Irish-Americans or African-Americans): it gives them a feeling of superiority, which is what nationalism is all about.”

    A person proud of being Irish-American or African-American doesn’t automatically give them a feeling of superiority. An individual can be proud of, say, being from Michigan without their Michigan identity needing a counter – meaning, I can be proud of being from Michigan without the “I’m proud of being from Michigan not only because I’m from there, but also because I’m anti-Ohio.”

    And while I appreciated the rephrasing of the context of your argument mid-thought, your examples fall short. You now argue groups gather their identity by uniting against another group. Your first example, the Nazi Party, did this against Jews and other groups to blame others for their problems. In reality, the Jews had done nothing to the Germans. It was a straw man they created to achieve such unity. Your second example, the McCarthy Hearings, did help unite America against a communist threat (though it has also been looked back on as excessive paranoia at its finest). However, at the time of those hearings, the Soviet Union had done nothing to the United States, though there was no doubt both were engaged in a bipolar competition for world supremacy.

    African-Americans truly did suffer from whites. The Irish truly did suffer at the hands of the English – those were not imagined harms from other groups to establish unity. And while I will be the first to admit the Irish have done reprehensible things in return to the English, their complaints are legitimate. African-Americans and Irish-Americans have unity that isn’t rooted in a feeling of superiority to another group – it’s pride in being a group that was on the receiving end of terrible circumstances and surviving.

    That being said, I’ll be the first to admit a counterargument you would, if you posted again, mention: the English of today did not commit atrocities against the Irish of the past or of contemporary times. I agree fully, and that is exactly why I believe it to be foolish to hold a grudge against another group based on the past. And I believe every group at some point or another was on the receiving end of discrimination or some form of an atrocity. I’m with you 100% on those comments.

    But you commenting that some social groups are just looking to feel superior to another, and the idea groups such as the Irish or the Scots should get over what happened, and because they haven’t, it “gets on my nerves intensely” is not only unfair, it’s ignorant.

  42. cartguy, I have no doubt he was trying to get a rise out of me, their were two Italian gentlemen in the line in front of me and he put on a very bad Italian accent and asked them if they were trying to smuggle Salami and Parmesan Cheese into the country, it was just interesting that the line he took with them was a stereotype of the Italian love of food and me, an Englishman, the stereotype of a drunken lout who loved singing almost as much as he loved a good fight. Which pretty much illustrated my point about the reputation we have abroad.

    Groover, I agree that is pretty much the only time we see our flag and the Welsh and Scottish Flags for instance are not used in the same way and it's perfectly acceptable to fly one.

    The catch 22 is, we want to play down the hooligan element of our society so we try not to fly our own flags because of the association they have with less than desirable groups but at the same time, they are our flags and we have every bit as much of a right to fly them as any other country and we shouldn't feel ashamed of it.

    Unfortunatley a lot of people do feel ashamed because of the actions of a few.

    I always give my nationality as English first and British second and if anyone asks me the difference I tell them, you would be surprised how many people didn't realise that Scots and Welsh were Brits too and thought British = English.

    I love my country and I'm proud to be English and it does sting that people use my flag in such a way and that I could be branded a racist just for flying it in my back yard but I can understand where this stereotype has come from.

    All in all, I think England could do with some "brand restructuring" given a make over and a face lift and step one would be to celebrate our country and our nation.

    Unfortunately it is going to be hard to get such celebrations off the ground and organised with so much embaressment felt due to the actions of a small minority who still walk on their knuckles and think a fist to the face is the rational conclusion to any disagreement.

    On this one I think we have a lot to learn from America, who can and do celebrate their country and have a sense of pride being an American, be it Irish American, African American etc etc they fly their flags with pride and the only place I have seen Union Flags and George Crosses flown with pride is outside a British Pub in Minnesota, I took a photo of it because it made me feel good that somewhere, in some corner of the world, it was OK to be English and British, in fact it was considered cool and celebrated.

    Shame it can't be like that in our own country.

  43. Tristram: Wow! That is absolutely appalling and uncalled for! There is no need for United States customs agents to be engaging in activity like that. It's one thing to try to get a rise out of them, but quite another to engage in just useless racial stereotypes. I apologize for it. You know, with my luck, if I ever go to an airport and see something along those lines I'll run my mouth off and get a nice shot from a taser or arrested.

    I'm also surprised to hear you guys don't fly your flags much. Hell, even the South flies the Confederate flag all over the place (the one exception being government property). There are lots of places in Michigan that fly the English flag. For instance, Niles, Michigan is known as the "City of Four Flags" because it had been occupied by the French, English, Spanish and the United States at differing periods. If you drive into the town - and it's just a small town that seems stuck in the 1950s - you'll see the sides of the streets adorned with England's flag, France's flag, Spain's flag, and America's. Those flags are everywhere. It's pretty cool, actually.

  44. cartguy, I hasten to add that this was the first time I have come across an agent like that, I have had gruff agents who weren't very polite but never used any racial slurs and I have had one who was very polite and nice indeed and even wished me a good vacation.

    To his credit he did after a lot more questions than I was used to and his little pops at my nationality, say "OK Simon, go have some fun" and although he was trying his best to get a rise out of me I didn't feel insulted, after 10 years walking a beat, things like that roll off my back and I just smile and shrug it off.

    As for the flags, no other than outside Buckingham Palace and Government institutions you rarely see a flag flying and it is very cool to see them flying over there when I've been.

    What I like about America is it's OK to have a sense of pride about where you come from and to celebrate that, being from England/Britain I wanted to hate Brit pub with a passion and go in and find fault with it, in fact Sammi was worried about taking me there just in case I did just that.

    But seeing those flags and walking inside to find old dark wood floors, a proper bar, football(soccer) on TV, Brit pop playing on the sound system and sitting down with a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale in a real pint glass and looking around at all the memorabilia on the walls, I just got swept along with it, yes it was a little garish and cheesy but I loved that, the celebration of my country all be it 4,000 miles away.

  45. (Before I write I'll say this: Lone Groover, if you want me to stop writing all over your post, just let me know and I'll stop. I just find all of this interesting, and it's a nice break from homework).

    Tristram: England as well as the United Kingdom is viewed very favorably here. The connection the United States feels toward England, at least in my opinion, is deeply entrenched and I don't see it going away. It isn't unusual to see British pubs all over the place. Hell, Kalamazoo has two - Shakespeare's Pub and The London Grill (though Shakespeare's Pub is a very Americanized version). I've never been in The London Grill - though I've been meaning to - but it's very popular with college students and it's authentic to the point an English ex-girlfriend of mine, her father, from Manchester, attends it regularly. While I'm sure it's not on par with what you'd find in England, it's probably not too bad for Kalamazoo, a city of around 100,000.

    If you were to go to Chicago or Detroit, I know they have hardcore English pubs created by actual Englishmen. I'll admit, Shakespeare's is my favorite Kalamazoo hangout, though it plays football more than soccer (you can ask for it and they'll turn it on no problem, though).

    Anyway, not to ramble but England is viewed very highly here and many English-Americans are extremely proud of their ancestry, as they should be. You should come to Kalamazoo sometime - we could go hang out at The London Grill and watch a soccer game (a close friend of mine is a die hard Liverpool fan and has been going on-and-on about their win over Manchester United recently).

    Yep - come to America and you'll see English flags everywhere.

  46. Blimey Andy, this post opened up a debate.. :) and to me what is a really nice change is that it is a debate, no nastyness, no mudslinging, just a bunch of people talking and learning, excellent, just excellent... Thank you all for a good read..

    An Englishman

    p.s. You do have to wonder when even the people govening the country can't get the Union Jack up the rightway.. sigh

  47. Yes, sorry Andy, I said I’d end the debate there, but Cartguy has pointed out a mistake I made, and I’d just like to acknowledge it.

    Cartguy, you are right in your remarks about my use of the words superior and superiority: proud and pride are the words I should have used. As you say, national pride doesn’t require that a person feels superior to people of other countries. Also, rather than the phrase ‘holding a grudge’, it would have perhaps have been better to say ‘having a feeling of resentment’ – as the word ‘grudge’ implies that there is actually something to feel resentful about. This would have covered both the German Nazis’ resentment of the Jews (which was artificial) and the African-Americans’ resentment of the European-Americans (which did have a basis).

    The main thrust of what I was saying, as you observed, was that it was both pointless and destructive to maintain hatred for a country’s people for generations after the original event. In that sense I do maintain that people should learn to put things in the past and get over them (assuming of course that there isn’t a continuing cause for friction). A friend of mine who is Irish (Irish born of Irish parents, though having lived in England for most of his life) wants all of Ireland to be independent from the UK. He doesn’t endorse terrorism and he doesn’t blame me for the Potato Famine (or even use it as an argument for independence). I have no problem with that – indeed I’m in favour of a united Ireland myself.

    As a footnote, what Tristram says about the English flag is perfectly true. It is very unusual to see an English flag flying anywhere (though its use seems to have increased since my childhood). I can still remember, years ago, seeing an English flag flying from a church tower one day, and wondering what it was for: it wasn’t until after I’d got home that I was told it was St George’s Day. I still can’t remember what date it is – though it may be that this kind of thing is a relic of the Reformation, and the Protestant condemnation of the celebration of Saint’s days as anathema. Though the Anglican Church has got over that, stricter churches refuse to observe saint’s days for the same reason. The Scots banned the celebration of Christmas for centuries – the ban was only repealed in the 1950s. Ireland, being strongly Catholic, naturally maintains such festivals, which may go some way towards explaining why St Patrick’s Day is by far the widest celebrated.

  48. one thing on the potato famine... the irish planted nothing but potatoes 3 years running; havig previously been more diverse in their plantings, they found potatoes not as labour intensive and nutricious enough to keep them going, so they shunned all else... when the crop failed the first year, they again planted nothing but potatoes, saying it couldn't happen 2 years running; it failed again... they planted nothing but potatoes a 3rd year saying no way could it fail 3 times in a row... it did. The english treated the irish like 2nd class human beings, we have no business being in the island of ireland but the potato famine? they've gotta look at themselves a lot harder than they ever have done... it wasn't the brightest bit of resource management.

    "The 'binding force' that you seem to despise is called 'society', or 'community spirit'".... nope, the binding force i don't understand is nationalism... i'm very community minded and i would bet anyone who lives or works close to me would say i put others before myself the majority of the time... but that would be true wherever i lived; it has fuck all to do with being english

    not a massive maggie fan but i'd wager you wouldn't be running your own little business if it hadn't been for her...

    I'd argue you're missing the poit entirely if you think being proud of your homeland is in anyway different to being proud of having brown eyes... as far as i'm concerned, anyone who's 'proud of their homeland' should be working in some civil capacity, in the forces, the police, civil service etc... i don't see you, Tristam and Cartguy lugging backpacks in afghanistan

    "Branding nationality as nothing short of having brown hair or brown eyes reduces passion, a fundamental part of humanity. We're emotive people and it's a part of the human experience."

    we are indeed emotive people... but just because a human being thinks nationalism is a ridiculous concept, doesn't make him or her less emotive or passionate; that's a horseshit arguement... if anything it frees up emotion for other more important, more worthy areas of one's life such as family and work...

    a world where everyone is passive? i'd happily bet that the majority of genius artists/genius scientists in any medium have been less 'proud of their homeland' than the average man in the street...
    nationalism is right up there with religion as a way of controlling the sheep... if being a sheep makes you feel warm inside, then so be it.

  49. Simon, cartguforever, Tristram:

    Don't worry guys, feel free to comment and debate as much as you like.

    It's nice to see an adult discussion!

  50. Dickbar, one massive legacy left by the 20th century is the evil of Nationalism. Between the fascists in Germany, Italy and Spain, and the Soviets (they got every ounce they could from branding "The Great Patriotic War," while hiding the fact they used that war to kill many of their own undesirables...Stalin, a Georgian, killed more Georgians than Hitler), and the McCarthy years in the US, I agree, Nationalism is evil.

    However, it is OK to have national pride without without having Nationalism, which has become synonymous with McCarthy, Stalin, Hitler etc. National pride is what gets us out of bed on holidays to applaud those who have had to serve in our armed forces. National pride is what gets us to enlist in the armed forces when our nation is attacked....or, when we're at peace, for that matter.

    I don't use the term German-American or English-American to describe myself, I call myself simply "American." But, I am proud to say that my forefathers came from German and England, and had to work hard in adverse conditions to forge a life here in the US, my dad's family surviving anti-German sentiment in the 20th century, my mom's family having to suffer from being Cubs fans in Chicago. The problem is, people with my attitudes also carry the cross wrapped in a flag, like Sarah Palin, but we're two different people. It is the duty of those of us with national pride to ensure those who are also "nationalists" do not get into power. Unfortunately that failure was evident in Germany, Italy, and even in the US at times.

  51. Oh, and I checked the listings on the History Channel. The only thing remotely cultural are a couple of programs on the Irish mob, and one on whiskey. There's also one about beer, but America's beer culture was created largely from German and a few Bohemian immigrants, but I guess they figured you couldn't honor St. Patrick's Day unless they discussed all aspects of alcohol.

    So no, there isn't a lot of cultural education on this, the most Irish of days (I'm sure you'd agree that you'd prefer there be more cultural education than just discussing criminal history and booze).

  52. i still don't get it steve... i see no reason and no way even if there were a reason that one can have pride in something one had nothing to do with/had no control over

  53. i can be proud of my boys because i've had a lot of input into how they operate... i can enjoy watching a good english performance vs the frogs at rugby but i can't feel proud about it

  54. Steve:

    I read a quote one, I can't remember who said it, but it went thus:

    "A patriot loves his country, a nationalist hates everyone else's"

  55. Dickingtonbar II:

    It people with precisely your attitude who've brought us to the lamentable situation that we're in now.

    Then again, we don't have a heritage to preserve, do we?

  56. Groover, I spent a lot of time trying to say the exact thing you said in one sentence.

    See, that's an example of Englishness. You guys are pretty friggin' literary, you know? You should be proud of that trait.

    Anyway, that's the exact point I'm trying to make. I've traveled all over North America, and been to Germany. I have relatives (those that stayed behind in the Old World) in Benfleet (Essex) and Hanau (Hessen) Germany, so I have an appreciation of other cultures, nationalities, etc. I am thankful I was born in a country with modern medicine, transportation, etc (despite the flaws, of course), and proud of the contributions the US has made to this world (and embarrassed by its flaws at the same time).

    And no, I don't hate any other countries. Well, except maybe Italy in the World Cup. I'm no Nationalist. I'm proud of the accomplishments of my country, and ashamed of its failures, and I try to teach my children to use their heads so that someday, they can further the accomplishments of the US.

  57. I think being proud of being born in a particular country is a very strange concept indeed. One tends to swell with pride over something they have worked to achieve, such as becoming an Olympic Level athlete, raising a child that has become independent and successful on their own terms, being able to fix cars, etc. Being proud of something you had no control over is kind of a weird concept to me.

    I think you should be able to enjoy being English and to have great respect for the accomplishments of your country, but taking pride in something you never had any hand in is a very strange concept indeed.

    Anyways, semantics aside I think you should be able to celebrate your country ESPECIALLY if you are living in it! I choose not to celebrate the fourth of July in a patriotic sense but I am glad we have the day to take off, sit on a boat and watch fireworks. Now the Americans have done some pretty oppressive things and we are still allowed to celebrate this day, but then again we are celebrating our emancipation from the "evil British empire" (but in reality I think we were being kind of whiny and petty). Anyways, rant over now.

  58. what's the lamentable situation Groover?
    nothing's to stop you going out and waving your George Cross if it makes you feel good... go fill your boots...
    Paddies day is huge, as is 4th July... we've all agreed... would you argue the situation is better in Ireland and the USA than here in England?
    I love where i live, i do all i can to make it better, which includes paying a fucking shit load of tax, council tax, VAT, inheritance tax... all i'm saying is that the concept of pride in one's nation is something that i just can't grab.

  59. i'm interested as to why you're so het up about my stance on this

  60. Dickingtonbar II:

    The lamentable situation?


    It's perfectly acceptable (and why shouldn't it be) for the Irish to parade through Birmingham in celebration of their Irishness.

    It's pefectly acceptable (again, why should it be) for the Sikh and Muslim community to parade through the streets of Birmingham in celebration of their respective religions.

    It's perfectly acceptable (see above) for the Afro-Carribean community to parade through the streets of Birmingham in celebration of their culture.

    It's perfectly acceptable (again, see above) for the Chinese community to parade through the streets of Birmingham to celebrate their New Year.

    Yet our local authority deems in 'inapropriate' for the St Georges Day parade to go ahead.

    Can you tell me one good reason for that?

    The only one that I can think of is that we've been made to feel ashamed of our own culture, history and heritage by decades of misguided PC nonsense.

    No other people on the planet have been as welcoming and accepting of other cultures than the English, yet we have it thrown at us time and time and time again that we are all 'racists' (whether we know it or not) and that our institutions are just as 'racist' as we are.

    It's happened is because we've allowed it to. Or, to be more precise, people with attitudes like the one you appear to have have allowed it to happen.

    I find the apathy and 'couldn't care less' attitude both disturbing and extremely sad. You've written on several occasions that you think our country is screwed.

    Yes it it, but not for the reasons that you think it is.

    There's more to making a contribution to your society and culture than simply paying your taxes.

  61. they're living away from their homelands, that's why it's ok for them to make such a fuss about it; maybe you should move to spain and celebrate st george's day there
    "I love where i live, i do all i can to make it better, which includes paying a fucking shit load of tax, council tax, VAT, inheritance tax... "... what you don't understand about that phrase i don't know, so i'll repeat it... the 'which includes' part is clearly what you missed...
    join the army... become a community policeman... run for the local council and eventually become an MP... do something about the apathy... do something about the lack of st georges day parades... have you written to your MP about it? it's dead easy to do, there's always a website for your local MP; it's your duty really as a voter to do so... my MP gets a note at least once a month from me either moaning or praising some aspect of my local community life
    i'm not ashamed of being english... it's just a fact... i am english... i'm not ashamed of our past, i'm not proud of it... i'm ambivalent because it has nothing to do with me.
    i totally agree with you that there aren't many places in the world as welcoming to foreigners as england, if any but i couldn't give a toss about walking down the street with a red cross on a white background... st george didn't even exist... we're here, we live here, we pay handsomely for it;
    i also agree we're lucky to live here rather than a lot of countries but it's luck... we could have been born in worse places, we could also have been born in better places

  62. Dickintonbar II:

    "ambivalent because it has nothing to do with me"

    It is that ambivalence that is the problem, can't you see that?

    Frankly, I'm staggered that someone can be so flippantly dismissive of their own history and culture.

    Ever wondered why the Asians here in the UK are so successful? It's because they respect their roots, their culture, their elders and their family.

    Ever wondered why so many of the English are so morally and culturally bankrupt? It's because of the lack of any respect for any of the above.

    So what if St George didn't exist? That's not the point.

    Does God exist? Does the Prophet Mohammed exist?

    They are fugureheads to gel people into working together. Is that such a bad thing?

  63. the asians here are so successful because they've given up everything they have at home, they have one shot to make it and so they get on with it... the indian chap i sit next to, who's parents moved here just after he was born couldn't give a f'ck about his roots... he doesn't want an aranged marriage that his parents are trying to organise and won't have it... he hates indian weddings and most of it's culture, he loves his parents but he doesn't 'respect' them per say.... his dad owns a corner store and works all the hours there are... the kid is doing better... just one example i know.
    respect your elders? listen, i'll respect my parents because i have kids and i know what they did for me and i know now how they love me but respect someone just cause they're older than me? you live in some kind of victorian dreamworld.
    before this country bent over backwards for immigrants, it bent over backwards for the poor... the welfare state created a class of people who could survive without working... a mate of mine got laid off recently, signed on... went to the job centre to talk about getting a job to tide him over and got told it wasn't worth going to work in a bar or cafe type thing because he'd lose his benfits... marvellous. it's people like that that we are paying... people like that and people like this:

    and this is why immigrants came, because we needed them and they are successful... because when they came, they did the jobs the farkin slackers couldn't be a'sed to do

    as for figureheads... i'm sorry but i don't need one to motivate me... if someone works for me, i'll work for them... i'll work for someone until i realise they're not working for me...

    i think poor schools, working mums, single parent families and the genral breakdown of the family unit has a lot more to do with where this country is now than a lack of national identity... and that is in no way meant as a dig at you... i know you're a solid dad and you've turned out a nice daughter as many single parents can do but you'd have to admit it's a hell of a lot easier to raise kids in a family where mum or dad doesn't have to work... that always used to be the norm.

  64. Now now, St. George did indeed exist, there is historical proof of his existence. It's the slaying of the dragon part that is mythical. In reality, it was probably just a rabid badger, or a rabbit, perhaps one with nasty, sharp pointed teeth.

  65. Dickingbar II:

    "respect your elders? listen, i'll respect my parents because i have kids and i know what they did for me and i know now how they love me but respect someone just cause they're older than me?"

    You mean you're one of those people who won't give his seat up on the bus/train for a pensioner? If you DO give up your seat, that's respecting your elders.

    I know plenty of Indians who don't want an arranged marriage, but they still have a damn sight more repect for their culture than you seem to have for yours.

    All I can see from your comments is that everything seems to depend on what you, personally get out of it. If there's nothing in it for you, then screw it.

    Thatcherism has much to answer for.....

  66. Steve: mean that he didn't REALLY slay a dragon?

  67. All those stories are embellishment. He probably stepped on a harmless snake, and told his buddies it was an enormous dragon.

    But don't worry, you think the English will be disappointed? Just look at Georgia, they named their friggin' COUNTRY after St. George. They'll probably rename the place after their most famous native son.....Stalinland.

  68. i think respect is the wrong word for that... i'll always give up my seat to someone elderly or someone female, especially someone pregnant, someone with young kids... but it's not down to respect; their need is just greater than mine

    and i respect culture of all kinds but i think the days of dividing that culture down national lines are thankfully gone... or going... apart from the odd backwaters clearly... and certainly 'pride' is very much the wrong word for it

    having seen and lived in several different cultures, it makes me appreciate others, while still i appreciate parts of english culture... i despise other parts of it and i certainly would never have 'pride' in it

    as for the selfish bit... hey man... you're the one who's self employed... i assume you're not part of the council... i know you're not police or services so apart from a lot of hot air and chest beating, i don't really see much in the way of service to english society credentials

  69. Steve:

    Taking the 'fishing tale' one step further...LOL!!

  70. Dickingtonbar II, or 'The Accidental Englishman':

    I think we'd better leave this there, don't you?

  71. Groover, EXACTLY! In my opinion, a large chunk of the Bible is a Fish Story. Jesus walking on water? They forgot to mention that he knew where the stones were. The walls of Jericho falling down? Well, while the one jackass was walking around blowing the horn and distracting the invaders, a few Jews snuck in the back way and sacked the place. Jesus healing the blind man? They forgot to mention the guy was just suffering from a bad case of eye boogies (he had just woken up), and Jesus just wiped them off.

    Now, St. George's "dragon" MIGHT have been a crocodile on the Nile River, but when you're from England, killing ANY large reptile when you see so few of them can easily get embellished.

  72. clearly we're not about to change each other's opinion on this, so you have a point on leaving it there... i guess peacefully agreeing to disagree is one part of english culture that's a definite bonus

  73. Hey you :) How are you? *hugs*

  74. Don't change the subject, Wiz!

  75. Steve do you mean like the killer rabbit out of Holy Grail? That was scary and could easily become a dragon in the re-telling.

  76. Dang - that's quite a long discussion here. I have no knowledge of anything that goes on over there besides what I read or hear in the already tainted news media.
    Just wanted to add nothing to the conversation, actually, but - that was an interesting song and video!

  77. Lou, with the right amount of alcohol, that rabbit could've EASILY been St. George's dragon.

  78. The White Dragon that was killed by the Holy Hand Grenade of Jesus' leftovers from the Last Supper.