Sunday, May 23, 2010

Maps and Legends

D.C. Harrison on the bogus Facebook story about England tops being banned during the World Cup and the meaning of nationalism.

[This is a guest post]

Mark Twain knew what he was talking of when he said "A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on". I was reminded of this by the latest farce of nationalistic pride to sweep the nation.

It's been well covered in many other places, but to recap: Croydon police sent out memos to several pubs advising them how to curb anti-social behaviour this summer. One line mentioned banning football tops. This is already policy in a fair few bars in Manchester, at least. However, this got warped by a certain tabloid rag into a ban on England tops during the World Cup.

In no time at all, a Facebook campaign was launched stating that England tops were to be banned to avoid offence to immigrants and the like. Yes, that old chestnut. Mercifully, I refuse to engage with any social networking sites, but it would appear it's still going strong despite all evidence to the contrary. Indeed, it would seem the truth is struggling to tie it's laces on this one.

I've never quite understand patriotic fervour in any big way. 30 years ago, two people got it on in a town in the North of England. Nine months later, this screaming jaundiced mess was dragged into the world. I didn't get much of a say into any of that.

Yet, I'm grateful for the incredible luck I had in where I was born. Sure, I can moan about just about anything but I also recognise I live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. There is no real chance I am going to starve to death or do without the basic essentials needed to survive.

If any, it's these things we should drop to our knees and thank blind luck for being born in Britain. Instead, tens of thousands of people express rage against other people for a reason that doesn't actually exist.

On the flipside, I can understand patriotism in some forms. I've been to Estonia several times, and can appreciate why they express their nationality so much. It's a young country, and it's people have had many years under the rule of others. It makes sense that they need to embrace their new found freedoms.

But here? I don't see it so much. Unlike Estonia, there's no 'real' English people in any ethnic sense that I can make out. I can't understand who the English Defence League are looking to defend against. If we're going to celebrate Englishness, then let's make it because the vast majority of us get to live with a roof over our heads and clean water coming through the taps.

D.C. Harrison blogs at The Tedious World.

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