An interesting article, fit to drive the flag waving bigots daft or even dafter.
2015 Thursday 16TH posted by Morning Star
Of all the things to be proud of in life, an accident of birth isn’t one of them, muses JON TAYLOR
Across Europe the tide of nationalism is on its way back in after a low period, and it seems to have picked up the traditional flotsam of jingoism, xenophobia and casual racism from an outflow pipe en route. But, unpleasant though these are, what’s really confusing is that somehow a default position has developed whereby we’re all supposed to be proud of our nationality.
Why on earth would you be proud of being British? I don’t mean that being British is a bad thing — clearly it’s fantastic, in a relative global sense. Most of us aren’t ever going to risk starvation, drowning in a typhoon, having our tongue lopped off for criticising the head of state or being eaten by a bear. We live in a developed country, with some public services that are almost up to scratch — though subject to change during the next five years of Tory rule.
But to be proud of a nationality acquired through accident of birth? Really? How little must you have to be proud of in your own life that the act of being born in a particular place is a source of pride to you? I’m British. I’m also 5'10" tall. It would clearly be ridiculous to be proud of my height, but I had about as much control over my height as I did over my nationality. To put this into perspective, I gained my nationality before I gained control over my bowels.
You can be grateful you were lucky enough to be born British. You may well feel you have a lot of shared ground with other Brits. You might even support one of our uninspiring national sports teams, but surely you should save your pride for something you’ve achieved yourself, something you’ve fought for, or at least something to which you’ve contributed more than carbon dioxide and other bodily waste products.
If you’re proud to be British, would you have to feel ashamed if you lived somewhere less fortunate? If you hold a Syrian passport, should you have to accept some sort of blame for the fact that the country now resembles a piece of Swiss cheese dropped on the beach at Fukushima (by which I mean it’s sandy, full of holes and probably lethal to humans within 20 minutes)? Of course you wouldn’t feel ashamed, unless you’d in some way contributed to the bloodbath.
In fact, if you accept that pride should be reserved for achievements over which you should have some control, you’re left with this conclusion: the only people with any right to national pride are immigrants.
It makes perfect sense. Only an immigrant has taken a conscious decision to earn or claim nationality. In many cases they have taken great risks to come here, leaving family and friends behind them to be faced with outright hostility on arrival, with newspapers printing front-page headlines like: “NOW IMMIGRANTS ARE MAKING OUR CURRY.” In fact, the costly and bureaucratic tangle involved in the citizenship application process alone means that anyone who gains British nationality today really has to have earned it.
The irony is that those people with the most extreme sense of national pride are those most opposed to anyone else earning the right to share it with them. And, in most cases, they are people who earned their citizenship with no more conscious effort than I did, by arriving landing on a bit of ground that happened to be governed by the British Crown.
In fact, I’d like to see some kind of legal ruling that national pride may only be publicly expressed by those who’ve gained their nationality through their own actions, if for no other reason than that pathetic right wing newspaper editors like Paul Dacre, Richard Desmond and David Dinsmore would have to print the headline: “NOW IMMIGRANTS HAVE STOLEN OUR PATRIOTISM,” and then dissolve into a puddle of waxy sploodge from pure rage, like the bad guys at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to base my own feelings of pride purely on the achievements or failures of people who are the same height as me. It seems to make as much sense as the nationalist approach, and would give me an exciting new choice of people with whom to associate.
Jon Taylor is a freelance journalist, writer and comedian, visible to the world at jonnalism.co.uk.