Happy St George’s Day

23 Apr

Today we honour St George, the Patron Saint of England. Unlike St Patrick’s Day, traditional celebrations do not centre around getting pissed out of our gourds. Instead we spend the day trying not to seem racist.

As a naturalised citizen, I bear no guilt from the evils of the Empire nor shame from the loss of it.  I embrace my new country and can display my Cross of Saint George. However, I am not naive to the world around me, which explains why I’ll be flying my flag indoors (which sounds like a euphemism but is meant literally).

Unfortunately England’s flag—which should represent our entire country, good and bad—has been co-opted by what most sensible people would call the bad.  Apparently, 24% of the English consider their own flag to be racist, according to a report called This Sceptred Isle.

This is unfair. There are still many things English to take pride in. David Beckham is properly lovely and you know it.  Our citizens are incredibly charitable. The NHS may not be perfect, but I’m grateful for it. We’ve got terrific architecture, art, comedy, music: I mean, we got a lot good going on here, people. It’s a shame that those who want to appropriately celebrate these things are too afraid to do so, for fear of being associated with racist ignorance. Is there a way to have national pride without being nationalistic?

I don’t know and I’m not in a position to make that call anyway. But I do hope we can all remember old St George on his day. Who cares that he wasn’t really English and that his greatest feat was killing an imaginary creature? I mean, we’ve all got our own personal dragons that need slaying and he can inspire us to do that. And our saint did tons of brilliant things, including bringing himself and others (even oxen) back from the dead, which is no mean feat, I can tell you.

As the song goes, “I’ve been dreaming of a time when to be English is not to be baneful, to be standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or partial.” God knows, Morrissey’s got his issues but let’s make his dream come true today, just for a minute, in the privacy of our own sitting rooms. Then tomorrow when we wake to the hate and violence in the streets, the dire economic picture and the idiots who run our country, we can return to feeling ashamed once again.

2 Responses to “Happy St George’s Day”

  1. MG Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 12:45 #

    “Is there a way to have national pride without being nationalistic?” I would say nein. No more than it’s possible to be a supporter of a football team and not want them to win.

    • SW/AWW Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 13:49 #

      I suppose. However, as you know from my football reports during the World Cup, I support England football and do want them to win but am not blind to or tolerant of their poor playing, daft strategies and horrifying off-the-field behaviour. I don’t think it has to be all or nothing.
      Note: David Beckham (obviously) is excluded from the above criticism, as he should be from all criticism everywhere.

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