Friday, 24 July 2009

Union Jacks Unsettle Me

Call me a pinko-lefty-liberal-fag-Commie-cheese eating surrender monkey-Jew-homo-leftist-moonbat-leftard-socialist-freedom hating ballbag but when I see a house that has a Union Jack in the window, I shudder.

I shudder because the chances are they are some kind of daft racist and/or suffering from a crippling small mindedness and/or, worst of all, feel that flying the flag is their patriotic duty at this time of war. And I'm not talking the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan, people have been putting up Union Jacks in their windows long before those conflicts.

I'm talking about the imaginary war being fought in Britain, as it comes "under siege" from Johnny Foreigner, darkies and a smattering of gypsies. Oh and don't forget about all those Somalians...

Thankfully, the people flying these Union Jacks fight this imaginary war by...well...putting up flags, moaning to their mates down Wetherspoons at the Curry Club (every Thursday 3-10) and shouting at the TV, as they become one with their Argos sofa bought on the drip with their nan's death money.

I'm not sure why I'm so squeamish about the Union Jack, maybe because it represents a union of nations that I don't really believe in, or because nationalism seems so silly in the modern age as we learn that national identity and basic elements of nationalism are relatively new man-made inventions, with little basis in reality.

I think the main reason it puts me ill at ease is that the Union Jack has been won over by goons like the BNP and the National Front, that my flag has become their flag and as I don't really care much for it anyway, I've handed it over to them and they've sullied it and transformed it into something deeply unsavoury.

Come back next week folks, where I'll be attacking people who fly the Saint George's Cross and bang on about celebrating Saint George's day as daft racists that are clinging to outmoded ideas of nationality and that Saint George was actually a Turk with an Arab mother.

21 comments:

  1. Avoiding the temptation to lecture you on the difference between the Union Jack and the Union Flag, the British Empire sullied the flag - don't blame the Nationalists for a job the Victorians did; they're just morons for thinking that was a Good Thing.

    While I concur with your sentiments about Nationalism on the whole, your inferred critique of Wetherspoons' curry club night seems unfair - while it may well take money away from genuine Eastern food retailers, at least it's offering an alternative to fish and chips to an otherwise unadventurous demographic, at reasonable prices.

    Argos, on the other hand, is just shit.

    Btw, I came here from The Enemies of Reason, via Flying Rodent. It's amazing where comments will take you, these days...

    ReplyDelete
  2. In the UK, I would expect to see many Union Jacks in the windows of any university town's student ghetto. Someone will always give you a flag, so you don't have to buy a many curtains. Looks better than a bedsheet. And always someone will get pissed off because you are somehow disrespecting the flag, even though it is not being burned or allowed to touch the ground, and indeed it is being treated with reasonable reverence.

    So for a student, a) saving money and b) pissing off the reactionaries, is a winning combination.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Union Jack is a bit like the word nigger or queer or jew. However, unlike those words we need to reclaim it back from those who mishandle it. For me, that flag (not the shitty George Cross) represents the nation as one, and show that we are not an island with borders, but countries united. United Kingdom. Strength through unity, etc.

    Being a leftie, it is easy to throw your arms up and take the politically correct notion that flag-waving is wrong, but it is not. The issue is that there are some many problems and inadequacies in this country that we feel ashamed as a nation to unite under the flag. This is a great shame.

    I have more issues with George's Cross because it cries ENG-ER-LAANND! It is more to do with a football team than any notion of national identity. There is a house in Loughton where the occupant has painted, yes painted, a giant George Cross on the front of their dwelling. It must be really shit for the neighbours who want to sell up or throw back the curtains wide first thing in the morning to be greeted by that visual abortion. It's not even a fucking flag!

    But I digress, we need to put some of our insecurities behind us and gather under the flag. We need to take time to think what it truly means, what it means to be a citizen of this fair isle and to realise that a great disservice has been done to our flag in the name of ignorance, prejudice and hate.

    The ones who claim it often mention WWII and the brave soldiers that gave their lives for our freedoms, but what they forget to mention was that those old soldiers fought against the fascists and regimes of hate that they now preach.

    Oh why am I trying...? It's all fucked up anyway...FUBAR!

    ReplyDelete
  4. national identity and basic elements of nationalism are relatively new man-made inventions, with little basis in reality.

    --We were always tribal. Did you know that whale species have tribes in the ocean, with cultural oddities from group to group. One interesting thing about large-brained sea animals is observance of contraspecific cooperation at times. Anyhew, I agree w/ much of what you're saying but I still decorate my car with an American flag decal.

    Go USA.

    ReplyDelete
  5. it is strange that something like this pisses you off so much. I never really thought of it as a bad thing, given that in my home country there is a sense of non-belonging that everyone is suffering from. We have become a nation of individuals with large scale divides and sects. Some people in Egypt (me included, in the past for which I hate myself still) live in their own bubble interacting with their own social class and do not look down on the broken majority, which themselves are in ghettos not looking up, and those closed classes are many and diverse with zero interaction. Mate, it would be months until I open my air-conditioned car window moving from one night spot to the other and notice those REAL people broken by lack of basic needs trying to just make enough money to feed the family for a single night.

    I always thought we can move a step closer to actually achieving something if someone can unite us all under a flag. Even a gay flag would do a better job than how we are now.

    Having said that, in Germany it is different. Because of their history, some close friends of mine have said with low voices after a few beers, that they are not allowed to love their country. They are educated out of it, their history reigns over them. They sometimes say it with bitterness. I once said to a German friend of mine "Look girl, your country made mistakes, but so did all empires and nations! those who want you to live in pain and blame forever are just fucken assholes! You have made a great country out of the ashes and you should be proud" I said so and followed by a hug (i'm emotional, and she was cute!) This is why if you have noticed, far right wing movements in Germany are very weak, and almost silent (Eastern Germany being always the source, since they have not had the same culture in which the western Germans were raised).

    But I see your worries mate. I'm in London for the month as you know, and everyday I walk the streets of London seeing people of all creeds, dressed in every conceivable fucken religious or non-religious costume, all respected and all protected under the law. You too have a great country.

    Be proud man, you are trying to make it all better, with or without a fucken flag.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mr. Bish:

    You barely avoided the temptation and considering that the Union jack is a nother term for the Union Flag and a well known one at that I'll avoid the temptation to call you a tedious pedant.

    As for the Empire damaging the flag, I'm not convinced as I find flags pretty silly in the first place and as the Empire wasn't around when I was a nipper, it's not really part of my thinking.

    My inferred critique of Wetherspoons' curry club was purely based on how bad the food is and the irony of being a nationalist whilst chowing down on a curry, never mind the fact that I'm a terrible pub snob.

    "Argos, on the other hand, is just shit."

    Something on which we can agree.

    Bud:

    Students on general share my dislike for the flag and with the invention of IKEA cheap blinds are easy to purchase, rather than the use of a flag which is dearer than the aforementioned blinds.

    Darren:

    I'm all for a reclaimation but I'm not sure I'm convinced by the ideas behind it, or that flags are of any use.

    M@:

    Go USA indeed...

    muslims4europe:

    I think the difference between us is how we feel about our flags.

    I also think German's should be free to bellow their love of their country from their hearts with no shame.

    I'll be in touch about walking the streets of London with you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, we no longer need flags because we are all, in fact, living in America. (Cue James Brown)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Just saw your response to my comment on the cricket post ... I know nothing about cricket, as my comment proved. The 'proud to be British' was a bit tongue in cheek because patriotism of any kind unsettles me. That's what happens when you are an American abroad. Patriotism just isn't kosher.

    And speaking of not being kosher ... I was at Auschwitz this weekend. I found the multitude of Israeli flags to be unsettling. I like jews (and cringe when typing 'jews' because it sounds derogatory, but it shouldn't) ... but I felt the presence of flags was inappropriate. It's not the place to be making political commentary. What if a Palestinian were visiting ... would he / she be allowed to bring an Palestinian flag (do they even have a flag?).

    All this to say, I understand the unsettling that a flag can do.

    BTW - I would love for Poles Apart to be reprised. Any chance? Love ya, mean it. x

    ReplyDelete
  9. You may be a pinko-lefty-liberal-fag-Commie-cheese eating surrender monkey-Jew-homo-leftist-moonbat-leftard-socialist-freedom hating ballbag, but you're MY pinko-lefty-liberal-fag-Commie-cheese eating surrender monkey-Jew-homo-leftist-moonbat-leftard-socialist-freedom hating ballbag!

    On this side of the pond, it's slightly amusing to watch the flag bearers flip from staunch defenders of a unilateral president who believe that anyone who disagrees with the administration should be extraordinarily renditioned, to staunch defenders of the God-given right to protest when some damn muslim foreigner gets elected just because he's a christian native.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I live in Texas..
    Everyone but me has a big ass flag waving in the front fucking yard..

    I'd sort of like a cuban flag to hoist..
    that would be funny..
    unless they kill me :(

    ReplyDelete
  11. Darren:

    I'd fly a flag for James Brown.

    Ellie:

    Nice thoughts on the flag thing at a historical site, I'm not convinced by the need for flags there.

    As for Poles Apart, yes we'll be in London in November so you better bloody be there!!!

    uphillrider:

    I love you too man.

    Cynnie:

    Texas is the land of flags, the maths are the number of flags times by how many times you vote GOP equals your level of Americaness.

    I think the Cuban flag thing would get you shot.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That's right, DHG. That's because we live in a shallow celebrity culture where to celebrate the life of someone who "entertains" is held in higher regard to those who actually make a difference in this world.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Come back next week folks, where I'll be attacking people who fly the Saint George's Cross and bang on about celebrating Saint George's day as daft racists that are clinging to outmoded ideas of nationality and that Saint George was actually a Turk with an Arab mother. "

    Don't bother, there's enough attacks on Gordon Brown out there on the internerd as it stands...

    ho ho ho

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm laughing all the way to the European mainland...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dan – But at least you’re an honest lefty pinko…

    Interesting post.

    I cannot identify with your feelings on this. The flag itself, made up of thread and colors, means nothing without the meaning you infer. Your position on the flag only tells me something about you, not so much about the Union Jack or the nation it represents. I can, as you do, look at the Union Jack and see the “crimes and follies” of a nation. I can also look at the flag and see all the good things the British have done, and should be proud of. And there are many things.

    In the U.S., most Americans are proud of our flag for what it represents. That unity is a core strength for us. Our histories have been different of course. Certainly there have been events in our history not to be so proud of. The flag reminds us of the good and the bad. But history cannot be changed. Mistakes and missteps happen. The times have changed. We have this bad habit of judging past injustices by present day standards, which is just plain bad thinking in my view.

    Anyway, look around the world Dan. What societies have the level of freedom and prosperity we have in the West? And where they do have any real prosperity, which ones have gotten it without some type of Western influence? The answer is none to very few. Most of the world lives on less than 5 U.S dollars a day. Poverty, aides and peace keeping missions around the world are mostly being funded and carried out by Western nations. We are far from perfect, but if I judged a nation only by its errors I’m going to naturally despise it. No person or nation is without sin. If we want to succeed we forgive, correct, and move on. It seems to me all those flag waving Union Jacker’s have just moved on.

    Okay—off to hang my flag!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Jeff, well, Americans are famous for their sense of nationalism so it is of little surprise that it is hard for you to identify with anti-flag sentiment.

    We all know Americans take their flags very, very seriously indeed.

    The Union Jack carries much loaded information, as do all flags but the idea that my feelings are not the feelings of many is not the case, that perhaps exposes your lack of understanding about the British feelings towards their flag and its 'taking' by the far-right.

    As for levels of freedom and prosperity, not sure what that has to do with flags, freedom is a notional idea, our governments have been guilty of some serious infringements in the name of freedom.

    And prosperity is overrated, at what cost and what false foundations has it been built on?

    And not sure what you're inferring about Western influence, that is a broad term that seems to be a catch-all to claim credit, when I question the need to claim credit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You’re correct I can't say exactly what the average Britishers sentiments are. Not sure exactly what "freedoms" you have had infringed upon exactly. I mean exactly how have you personally been hurt? Maybe you have, I don’t know. But I find few people saying this being able to really name material examples. And the ones they name just tend to show they don't understand the difference between liberty, under the law, and freedom. Two different concepts.

    Prosperity overrated? Well, I'm not sure some of my poor African friends would agree with that at all. Funny, many of them shake their head and consider Americans and Europeans as spoiled children complaining about fake grievances. As one Afghan told me, "all this protesting and complaining from people who have the best living standards in the world. I'm happy to live here and have a good job and live in peace. These people have never had to live in a refugee camp." He's right, maybe they need to for a while.

    Western influence refers to the spread of western style economics and politics. The later British empire was a good example of a liberal empire that spread western ideals for the benefit (in the balance of things) of many. Certainly it was not perfect but many people benefited. Sub-Saharan Africa is a perfect example. GDP was higher per capita under the British than in is comparatively today. That is sad. There is little law and order there now and poverty and war will not invite investment and economic improvement. And, of course, none of this will happen until security and stability is returned. Something the British Empire provided.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Just as many in the UK and indeed Europe are bemused (and in some circumstances jealous) by America's seemingly inbuilt ultra-nationalism, an American's appreciation of the complex nature of the British nationalism with all its nuances is a similar struggle.

    Remember, many Welsh, Scots, Irish and English do not believe in the idea of the Union and unlike America's union which is one of states, not nations, the UK union is made up of countries with very different people and beliefs.

    I'm not sure where you go this idea my freedom's are being impinged upon, I never say that in the post at all.

    As for prosperity overrated, it is all about context, this post is not about that.

    Western influence also has incurred plenty of terrible damage, esp, in Africa and the British Empire had plenty of flaws as well as joys.

    Your diatribe against Africa regarding it was better under the Brits is a shorthand and simplistic take on what has occured in many nations, please see my blog post on Africa here to stop me outlining complex arguments twice:

    http://danielhg.blogspot.com/2009/02/catholic-orangemen-of-togo.html

    ReplyDelete

Please do not be under the misapprehension that this blog has a laissez-faire comments policy where commenters can get away with whatever they want to say on account of their ‘freedom of speech’.

Blurred Clarity has a stringent comments policy. So anything off-topic, diversionary, trollish, abusive, misogynist, racist, homophobic or xenophobic will be deleted.

Cheers duckies.