Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Making My Peace With Nationalism

Ugh. It is "St George's Day" yet again.

This blog was, once upon a time, created more as a reaction to nationalism than anything else. I know that is hard to imagine as I moan about marriage equality so often now, but yes indeed the posts I actually received the most response on (including being invited to speak at conferences(!), something I turned down as I'd be absolutely useless) were about nationalism. I explained why I'm a unionist, why you shouldn't call me English, and asked why those who bang on about flags never seem to treat them with respect.

In my personal life, when I lived in London, if you had asked anyone my politics they probably would have answered "He's obsessed about Britishness, just don't refer to anything as English" as they hushed you to be quiet lest I hear. My unionism, more all-encompassing than the most right-wing DUP nutter version, has been a central feature of my life.

But I accept I am in the minority. Wherever I look nationalism is no longer just "on the rise" but is here to stay. I mentioned merging two Wiki pages the other day, one about Latter-Day Saints in the UK and one about Latter-Day Saints in England, as they duplicate information. I've mellowed in my old age and wasn't even thinking about my old "Ugh England" agenda, yet was instantly attacked by someone determined I don't go near the Welsh or Scottish entries and telling me all about the evils of English colonialism (something that amused me as someone who probably despises the concept more than they do). Nationalists are everywhere. Alas.

I must simply accept that my distaste for Englishness (and the other forms of nationalism that prevade our world) is to be a solitary pursuit and leave the nationalists to fight over the bones of our islands. I shan't correct others when they call the UK "England".

But don't you dare call me English. I may not be able to convince you of the worthiness of unionism as a political concept, but at least respect who I am. I still treasure the parting gift I got upon leaving the first London job I had. It was a drinks coaster that said "Kentish First, British Second, European Third". My colleagues knew me well.

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